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C-130 Hércules

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Number: 101

Farewell to almost five decades of service

December 29th, 2020 is a day to be remembered forever, as it was the day that the T-10, an aircraft also known as the Lockheed C-130, last served in the Army..


Personnel of the last Hercules flight

Even though the Hercules is an Air Force transport plane, it is also closely connected with the Army. Therefore, the 6th Paratrooper Brigade “Almogávares” wanted to dedicate that day to bid the plane farewell. Thus, the 6th Brigade chief and the unit chiefs and other representatives of the Brigade gathered at the Torrejón de Ardoz air base for the last flight of the iconic plane, though, due to weather conditions, the paratrooper launch could not be done. With that flight, more than 45 years of Armed Forces history came to an end.


The Hercules has participated in

missions such as those in Kosovo,

Lebanon, Iraq and Mali


The first Hercules bought by Spain was put into service in 1973 and, a few months later in May of 1974, it carried out its first paratrooper launch for the Army. Shortly after, it was loaded with vehicles for the exercise “Creta” II/77, where the Viasa CJ3 1/4 vehicles, more commonly known as Jeep Willy Viasa, were deployed. Now, this aircraft has been replaced by the A400M and “only time can tell if it will become as iconic as the Hercules,” said Captain Mayorgas, Chief of the 6th Brigade’s Launch Company. The Hercules is an aircraft that has even been piloted by His Majesty King Juan Carlos I on one occasion.

In Spain, the Hercules has been used for tactical transport, not for attacks. It has participated in many missions, including those carried out in Iraqi Kurdistan (1991), Bosnia-Herzegovina (from 1992 until the withdrawal of Spanish troops), Kosovo, Mozambique, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali. It has also participated in humanitarian aid missions, such those that responded to hurricane Mitch and the earthquake in Haiti.


Paratrooper cartoon

The activities the Hercules has carried out through the decades include paratrooper launches, cargo drops, in-flight refueling, and logistical support. It is an aircraft that, for the 6th Brigade, “represents a great qualitative leap due to its capability to launch personnel and cargo, since previously there was no such aircraft in Spain. For example, it is able to launch the Otto Melara 196/14 howitzer, or its replacement, the Light Gun 105/37, followed by the paratroopers who operate the weapons in an automatic activation launch,” Captain Mayorgas pointed out. It can also launch all types of equipment, such as light utility vehicles like the all-terrain Grasshopper (Falcata), command posts, Zodiacs, small motorized machinery, etc.

Surely, this aircraft has transported hundreds of thousands of passengers in its almost five decades of service to Spain. A service that is now ending in the same way it has for other countries, since practically all NATO armies have had this aircraft in one version or another.



For the first time in Spain,

this aircraft enables

mixed launches to be carried out


Paratrooper launch

In fact, the Hercules is still being made. “Currently, it is known as the C-130J. A version that is slightly larger, with better engines and digital instruments as well as a greater cargo capacity and range. It is used by the United States Air Force and some other allies such as France and the United Kingdom,” says Captain Mayorgas.
Now, the Hercules will live only in the memories of those who flew in them, except for one that was sent to the Air Force Museum in Cuatro Vientos (Madrid) as a monument to an exceptional aircraft.


Paratrooper launch