A Herculean Finish for the C-130K
On 25th October 2013, there was a sunset finish as RAF Brize Norton marked the completion of the final operational sortie of the remaining two Hercules C-130K aircraft, which will retire at the end of October 2013.
The two C-130K aircraft carried out a 2-ship flypast, making an appearance across many parts of the UK; Thorney Island, Colerne, Filton Bristol and Cambridge, to name just a few. They also bid farewell to a number of other RAF stations including RAF Valley, RAF Lossiemouth and their former home at Lyneham, Wiltshire.
The Hercules C-130 tactical transport aircraft is the workhorse of the RAF’s Air Transport fleet and is operated by No’s XXIV, 30 and 47 Squadrons, based at RAF Brize Norton. Since 1967, this aircraft has provided the UK with the ability to move equipment and personnel globally on both military and humanitarian operations. Its true strength, however, lies in its superb ability to operate at the tactical – intra-theatre level.
On landing, Wing Commander Graeme Gault, described it as a “Very very sad” moment. He said: “It’s a fantastic aircraft and on this last sortie, we took the aircraft around all the places that have been poignant in its history. It’s done a lot over the years and so it’s very sad to see it go.”
The aircraft are, of course, just the equipment of the men and women of the RAF; it is the unique air-mindedness, the courage to do what is right - often in split-second circumstances - that enables airmen to stand shoulder to shoulder with the professional sailor, soldier and marine, such that together we can best serve our nation.
The C-130K will be replaced by the A400M Atlas, a 4 engine turbo-prop military transporter designed and built by Airbus military as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities. To be delivered in 2014, Atlas will increasingly take on the C-130 role, replacing it completely in 2022.
With this contemporary fleet of RAF Air Mobility air power; the RAF is well equipped to continue to serve the nation for the decades ahead.