On 31 March 2021, the US Marine Corps (USMC) received its sixtieth KC-130J Hercules from Lockheed Martin in March 2021.
The aircraft, BuNo 170037/BH-037 (construction number 382-5909), was delivered to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 252 Heavy Haulers ('BH-xxx') at MCAS Cherry Point (NC).
What made the delivery interesting is the fact that it was delivered with improved navigational performance, a modernised cockpit, and other key upgrades. The Block 8.1 cockpit upgrade includes a new flight management system that complies with communications, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management mandates. It also has enhanced GPS capabilities, improved communications systems, and improvements to the KC-130J’s friend-or-foe identification technology. The addition of the Department of the Navy Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (DoN LAIRCM), a laser-based self-protection system designed to defend against surface-to-air infrared missile threats, increases survivability of the aircraft and aircrew in the event of an airborne attack.
The USMC will receive the remaining 26 aircraft over the next five years reaching their programme record of 86 KC-130Js.
The KC-130J/KC-130J-30s are operated by the following units:
VMGR-152 Sumos ('QD-xxx') at Iwakuni (Japan)
VMGR-234 Rangers ('QH-xxx') at NAS JRB Fort Worth/Carswell Field (TX)
VMGR-252 Heavy Haulers ('BH-xxx') at MCAS Cherry Point (NC)*
VMGR-352 Raiders ('QB-xxx') at MCAS Miramar (CA)
VMGR-452 Yankees ('NY-xxx') at Stewart/Intl (NY)
*) three monthly rotation at Sevilla/Morón (Spain)
Photo: Lockheed Martin