French Air Force’s New KC-130J Tanker Performs Refueling Contacts with C-160G Gabriel Aircraft

French Air Force’s new KC-130J Super Hercules aerial refueling tanker conducted successful refueling contacts with the service’s C-160G Gabriel intelligence-gathering aircraft.

The in-flight refueling test campaign of the new aircraft is being conducted by the Air Force and the French defense procurement agency, DGA’s Flight Test Expertise and Test Center (centres d’expertise et d’essais de la DGA).

A French Air Force KC-130J Super Hercules aerial refueling tanker conducts refueling contact with the service’s C-160 Gabriel intelligence-gathering aircraft. DGA Photo.

The KC-130J Super Hercules is an aerial refueling tanker developed by American company Lockheed Martin and is based on the company’s C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter, which is in turn the development of the venerable C-130 Hercules.

The French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) operates two KC-130Js.

The KC-130J provides tactical in-flight refueling for fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and tilt-rotor aircraft; aviation delivered ground refueling of aircraft or tactical vehicles; assault air transport or air-landed or aerial-delivered (parachute) personnel and equipment; pathfinder support, battlefield illumination; tactical aeromedical evacuation; and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel support.

The aircraft’s two wing-mounted hose and drogue refueling pods (made by Sargent Fletcher) can each transfer up to 300 gallons (1,136 L) per minute to two aircraft simultaneously allowing for rapid cycle times of multiple-receiver aircraft formations.

Technical Characteristics:

+ Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 164,000 lbs
+ Maximum Fuel: 61,364 lbs. (with external tanks)
+ Max Payload: 47,903 lbs. (at Maximum Wing Relieving Fuel)
+ Cargo Volume: 4,551 cu ft.
+ Crew For Refueling Options: Two Pilots, One Advanced Crew Stations (ACS) Operator, Two Loadmasters
+ Max Range: 4,275 n.mi (with external tanks)

French Air Force C-10J/KC-130J Super Hercules Procurement

France ordered a total of four Lockheed Martin Super Hercules aircraft – two C-130J-30 combat delivery airlifters and two KC-130J aerial refuelers – through a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deal with the U.S. government.

The first of these aircraft (a C-130J-30 airlifter) was formally delivered to France in December 2017. This aircraft was inducted in French Air Force’s 62nd Transport Wing with a ceremony at Orléans-Bricy Air Base on Jan. 15 next year. The second C-130J was delivered in 2018.

The first French KC-130J aerial refueler was to 62st Transport Wing at Orléans-Bricy Air Base on Sept. 19, 2019, and the second KC-130J was delivered on February 4, 2020.

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