The U.S. Marine Corps has received the first of nine new KC-130J aerial
tankers [PHOTO]. Based on the latest version of the C-130 (the C-130J), the new tanker
can carry 40 tons of fuel (50 percent more than its predecessor, the KC-130F.)
The U.S. Air Force tanker fleet uses KC-135s, which carry 90 tons of fuel and
can transfer up to 68 tons. Typically, aerial tankers have to service
everything from heavy bombers like B-52s, which carry over 140 tons of jet
fuel, to fighters like the F-18 (which carry five tons of fuel). The new KC-45A
will carry 108 tons.
KC-130J mostly services F-18s, and can also land and transfer fuel to
helicopters, ground vehicles and fuel storage bladders at a rate of 1.8 tons
(600 gallons) a minute. This is very useful. The marines need some aerial
refueling capability, for when air force tankers are not available, and have
used a dozen KC-130Fs since the 1960s. The tankers double as cargo and troops
transports. The KC-130J is also 20 percent faster and has a third more range
than the older KC-130F.