The US Air Force will take delivery of its first HC-130J combat rescue tanker later this year, with the aircraft having emerged at Lockheed Martin’s ?xml:namespace>Marietta production plant in Georgia on 3 April.
Pictured leaving the main assembly building ahead of painting, the aircraft will soon enter production flight testing, says Lockheed.
“The HC-130J will meet an initial operating capability date in mid-2012,” it adds.
© Lockheed Martin
The USAF’s Air Combat Command has ordered its first two of a planned 18 HC-130Js, and will also acquire 26 MC-130J tankers, as listed in Flightglobal’s MiliCAS database.
Lockheed began assembly work on the first HC-130J last October, with the aircraft intended to support future search and rescue operations by the USAF. With an increased maximum take-off weight of over 74t, the variant also features an improved wing design.