Lockheed Martin C-130 Specs & Features 

Today we pay homage to the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules. Of course, nobody calls it that; it’s just “The Herc.” The Herc has been around since the 1950s and shows no signs of slowing down. It is used in all kinds of rolls, has been worldwide, and is tough, durable, and efficient.  

What is a Lockheed Martin C-130? 

The Lockheed Martin C-130 is a four-engine turboprop medium-lift cargo airplane that was designed for the Air Force. All military branches have since adopted it except for the Army.  Since its inception, the Herc has been used for all kinds of missions, from cargo to ISR, to flying artillery/gunships. But its primary purpose is to provide cargo support, paratrooper support, and anything else that needs to be done.

What is the Purpose of a Lockheed Martin C-130?

It came out of high demand for a rugged cargo plane that could easily go anywhere in the world but needed to have higher cargo capacity than the piston-engine aircraft of the time. Piston engines have their place and are certainly more fuel efficient than a comparable turbine, but pound for pound, they have nowhere near the output. A turboprop engine is much lighter, much simpler, and has far longer mean times between overhauls. It was conceived as a pure cargo mission aircraft but has evolved radically over the past five or six decades. 

Lockheed Martin C-130 Variants 

There are three mainline cargo variants of the Herc in service right now: The ‘E,’ the ‘H,’ and the ‘J’ models. The Echo models are the oldest in the fleet, with the originals ordered in 1962. Almost four hundred were ordered, many of which remain in service today. The distinguishing feature of the Echo was the addition of the telltale external fuel tanks, one of which is mounted on each wing between the engines.

Juliet models are the first new-production Hercs in decades, with production beginning in 1996. Dubbed the Super Hercules, J-model Hercs are equipped with a completely modernized flight deck that did away with the need for flight engineers, completely different engines, a glass cockpit, and most noticeably, six-bladed scimitar propellors. The six-bladed props replaced the iconic four-bladed paddle props. 

The Herc has been adapted to various missions outside the basic models. Here are a few:

  • AC-130 Gunships. These are equipped with cannons and sensor packages to orbit and fire on enemy ground combatants. 
  • EC-130. There are several different models, all used for different types of electronic warfare tasks. 
  • HC-130. These aircraft are attached to rescue wings and perform search and rescue (SAR) functions. They are usually equipped for aerial refueling rescue helicopters and other slow aircraft equipped with drogue refueling systems. 
  • WC-130. These are the Hurricane Hunters, based out of Keesler AFB, Mississippi. 

Many more variants and sub-varients are too numerous to mention, but these are the most common. 

Lockheed Martin C-130 Specs 

The Herc is a medium cargo aircraft, which is not all that large compared to other cargo aircraft but still large. 


Here are the exterior and interior dimensions (courtesy of the U.S. Air Force factsheet): 

Length: C-130E/H/J: 97 feet, 9 inches 

C-130J-30: 112 feet, 9 inches 

Height: 38 feet, 10 inches

Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches 

Interior dimensions:

C-130E/H/J: length, 41 feet; width, 123 inches; height, 9 feet. Rear ramp: length, 119 inches; width, 118.9 inches

C-130E/H/J-30: length, 56 feet; width, 123 inches; height, 9 feet. Rear ramp: length, 119.9 inches; width, 118.9 inches


The aircrew requirements depend on the model, but here are the basic requirements. C-130E & H: two pilots, one navigator, one flight engineer, and one loadmaster. 

C-130J: two pilots, one loadmaster. Upgrades to the flight deck and avionics completely eliminated the need for flight engineers and navigators on the Juliet models, as it has for many other legacy airframes. All other models of the Herc that perform special missions have the exact basic crew requirements for the base model aircraft (E/H or J). Still, then they may remove the loadmaster and replace it with a comparable position (usually a modified position to the loadmaster), and then have the addition of any other required crewmembers for electronic warfare, ISR, or firing and targeting. 

Passenger Capacity 

The C-130 Herc can be configured for a number of different missions, but it has a few base configurations to work from.

  1. Passengers: the C-130 can carry up to 92 passengers but stretch -30 models can carry up to 128 passengers. 
  2. Paratroopers: base length Hercs can carry 64 paratroopers, while stretch models can carry 92. 
  3. Litter patients: C-130s are configurable for aerial medical evacuation. Base-length aircraft can carry 72, while stretch Hercs can haul 97 litters.


The Echo and Hotel models use the same core engine: four Allison T56-A turboprops. 

  • The Echo is equipped with the T56-A-7, each producing 4,200 shp
  • The Hotel has the T56-A-15, each producing 4,591shp. 

The engines are the only differences between the Echo and Hotel models. Otherwise, the aircraft are identical. Juliet model Hercs use the Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprops, each mating to a composite, constant-speed, full-feathering propellor. These engines produce 4,637shp each. 



  • C-130E: 345 mph/300 ktas (Mach 0.49) at 20,000 feet 
  • C-130H: 366 mph/318 ktas (Mach 0.52) at 20,000 feet 
  • C-130J: 417 mph/362 ktas (Mach 0.59) at 22,000 feet 
  • C-130J-30: 410 mph/356 ktas (Mach 0.58) at 22,000 feet 


  • C-130E: 19,000 feet with 42,000 pounds payload
  • C-130H: 23,000 feet with 42,000 pounds payload.
  • C-130J-30: 26,000 feet with 44,500 pounds payload.
  • C-130J: 28,000 feet with 42,000 pounds payload

Range with maximum normal payload:

  • C-130E: 1,000 nautical miles
  • C-130H: 1,050 nautical miles
  • C-130J: 1,800 nautical miles
  • C-130J-30 (stretched): 1,700 nautical miles

Lockheed Martin C-130 Features 

Over the decades, the Herc has transitioned from steam gauges and analog avionics to a thoroughly modern aircraft. 

Fully-Integrated Digital Avionics 

Part of the C-130Js expanded capability lies in the full-integrated digital avionics suite built into every aircraft. Here are some of the features: 

  • Dual head’s-up displays are a standard feature. 
  • Automated maintenance fault reporting, leading to much faster and more accurate troubleshooting 
  • An integrated defensive suite

Dual Inertial Navigation System

Replacing the need for navigators are dial INSs. These are some of the most accurate systems ever designed for oceanic travel. It is integrated with GPS systems to provide the most accurate locations possible. 

Fully-Integrated Defensive Systems 

A state-of-the-art defensive avionics suite is integrated into the main avionics suite. This is a huge deal because it means that there is no need for an additional crewmember to operate defensive countermeasures. 

Low-Power Color Radar 

The Herc is equipped with a low-power color weather radar to monitor weather in real-time. Unlike the extremely powerful offensive radar units used on many tactical aircraft, the Herc’s low-power system poses much less of a risk to ground personnel. 

Digital Moving Map Display 

Most modern airliners and corporate jets are equipped with moving map displays, and the latest avionics suites on the Herc have done the same. This is especially useful during VFR and low-level missions that Hercs routinely fly. 

Digital AutoPilot 

The C-130 now has a digital autopilot to improve safety and reduce pilot burden.


The C-130 is used by every military branch except for the Army and Space Force. 

United States Air Force 

The Air Force is the prime user of the C-130, with a total count of 428. The active duty component has 145 tails in its inventory, with bases in Texas, Arkansas, Japan, and Germany. 

Air National Guard 

The Air National Guard is the largest user of C-130s in the Air Force, with 181 in their ranks. It is ideally suited to the National Guard mission since it has numerous state missions, including firefighting, emergency response relief, and much more.

Air Force Reserve

AFRC is the smallest user of C-130s in the Air Force, with 102 to its name. They operate out of the inventory of Georgia, Mississippi (the only weather models), Alabama, Minnesota, Colorado, and Ohio. 

United States Marine Corps 

The Marines operate a fleet of KC-130Js that fill two rolls:

  1. Aerial refueling: any of the Marine’s aircraft equipped with drogues can refuel from the KC-130J. This includes the AV-8B, CV-22, CH53, or any other aircraft with drogues like MH-60s, MV-22, MH-47, etc. 
  2. The KC-130J can still perform all standard cargo and passenger movements as any other C-130. 

United States Navy

The Navy operates a small fleet of Hercs that they use for cargo missions. These are flown primarily by Naval Reservists and provide “the last logistical mile” support for forward-deployed Navy assets and forces.

United States Coast Guard

The Coast Guard flies the smallest concentration of Hercs by the military. They fly the HC-130J for long-range search and rescue missions.

Their Hercs are equipped with the following:

  • Automatic identification and direction-finding capabilities
  • Electro-optical and infrared 
  • Sensor turret to provide both imagery and target data
  • Advanced open architecture mission system processor
  • Long-range, multi-mode radar

Juliet model Hercs provide a 20% increase in speed & altitude and provide a 40% longer range than HC-130H aircraft. 


The C-130 Hercules is one of the most important airplanes in the entire Air Force inventory. It has evolved over the decades into the most versatile airframe in the Air Force, serving dozens of unique missions. However, the fleet of E and H models is getting old. They require upkeep to remain effective, and a strong supply of parts is the cornerstone of that. Greenwood Aerospace is your #1 source of parts procurement for these flying marvels.