The Italian air force Lockheed Martin C-130J that crashed with the loss of five lives on 23 November has been identified as the service's first example to have been modified to the tanker configuration.
Aircraft MM62176 (pictured below at the 2008 Royal International Air Tattoo) was delivered to Italy in 2000 as its first of 12 short-fuselage C-130Js, but was later adapted for tanker applications.
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It was subsequently used to support in-flight refuelling qualification activities involving the AgustaWestland AW101 transport helicopter and the Italian air force's Eurofighter combat aircraft.
© Lockheed Martin
© Alenia Aeronautica
The crash, which happened following a touch and go landing at Pisa airport, was the first to have involved Lockheed's new-generation Hercules, which is now in use with six nations, and on order or selected for another six. In the only other previous hull loss, UK military personnel were forced to destroy a Royal Air Force C-130J in 2007 after the aircraft was extensively damaged by two improvised explosive devices detonated while it was landing on a semi-prepared strip in southern Iraq.
The Italian air force is continuing to investigate the cause of the fatal accident, but has not halted flying operations with its remaining 21 C-130Js, which include one tanker.
Source: Flight International