Enhanced capabilities for C-130J Hercules

The Royal Australian Air Force’s C-130J Hercules airlifters have quietly been undergoing a series of technology inserts in the last couple of years, which are designed to make the aircraft not only more survivable in the modern battlespace, but also to enhance connectivity with other ADF assets.

Many of the capability enhancements and experiments are being undertaken under the Air Force’s Plan Jericho strategy, which aims to deliver an integrated and connected ‘5th generation’ force of the future. While not all of the technologies demonstrated will become part of the baseline C-130J capability, others are being rolled out across other platforms in the Air Mobility Group (AMG) fleet.

Some of the enhancements, which have been or are likely to be adopted throughout the Hercules fleet are an enhanced self-protection suite, using the laser-based Northrop Grumman Large Aircraft Infra-Red Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system; a precision airdrop capability which does not require the Hercules to overfly a drop zone; a satellite communications (SATCOM) capability and Link 16 tactical data link connectivity.

Joint Precision Air Drop System

One of the relatively simple enhancements to C-130J capability has been the adoption of the US Joint Precision Air Drop System (JPADS), which was initially trialled in its current form in 2015. JPADS has since been adopted by both the C-130J and C-17A Globemaster communities and it will also undergo trials with the RAAF’s new C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter later this year.

JPADS is a kit which can be fitted to any container delivery system (CDS) air drop load weighing up to one tonne.

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