The first CC-130E Hercules entered service in Canada in 1960, and the current CC-130H Hercules was purchased in 1996. The first of 17 new J-model CC-130s will arrive in 2010 to replace the oldest aircraft in the Hercules fleet.
The CC-130 Hercules is a four-engine fixed-wing turboprop aircraft that can carry up to 78 combat troops. It is used for a wide range of missions, including troop transport, tactical airlift (both palletized and vehicular cargo), search and rescue (SAR), air-to-air refuelling (AAR), and aircrew training. It can carry more than 17, 000 kilograms (about 38, 000 pounds) of fuel for tactical AAR. In the tactical AAR role, the Hercules can transfer 450 to 900 kilograms (about 1, 000 to 2, 000 pounds or 450 to 900 litres) of fuel per minute, and refuels the CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft in less than five minutes.
The Hercules has a maximum range of 7, 222 kilometres (4, 488 miles) and a cruising speed of 556 kilometres per hour (345 miles per hour). Capable of short takeoffs and landings (STOL) on unprepared runways, it can respond to SAR emergencies on almost any terrain and under the most challenging weather conditions. It can also transport troops and equipment in support of humanitarian aid operations conducted by the CF Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).
In 2006, one CC-130 Hercules from 8 Wing Trenton delivered 12,250 kilograms (approximately 27,000 pounds) of equipment to Pakistan in support of a humanitarian aid operation by the DART.
The current CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft has been in service with the CF in southwest Asia since January 2002, when three Hercules deployed to the Persian Gulf with flight crews and ground staff as the Tactical Airlift Detachment. By the end of Operation Apollo, in October 2003, these aircraft had transported some 6,000 passengers and more than 6.8 million kilograms (about 15 million pounds) of freight to destinations in the theatre of operations, including Afghanistan. On Operation Athena, the CC-130 Hercules continues to operate with the Tactical Airlift Unit, part of the Joint Task Force-Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) Air Wing. The Hercules is a mainstay of NATO airlift in Afghanistan.