The Mighty Hercules celebrates 60 years in the RCAF

News Article / October 14, 2020

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Royal Canadian Air Force Public Affairs

When the engineers and designers at Lockheed created the Hercules aircraft in the 1950s, it’s doubtful they had any idea how versatile and iconic the plane would turn out to be for the Royal Canadian Air Force. In 1960, 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron received the first operational B-Model Hercules. The squadron flies the updated H-model today.

“The Hercules is an absolute work horse,’’ said LCol Art Jordan, Commanding Officer of 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron at 17 Wing Winnipeg, one of four squadrons that fly the H-model Hercules. “Built to function in regular and austere environments, this aircraft has been an amazing asset to the RCAF.’’ 

In addition to the H-model Hercules, the RCAF operates the latest model, the CC-130J Hercules.

At 435 Squadron the planes are primarily used for search and rescue (SAR), and air-to-air refueling, but they can be called upon for a variety of transport roles. Its design, with a huge back door that opens up the full cargo department, allows for a wide array of cargo to be carried.

“These planes have literally been around the world and have just about carried anything everywhere. On countless United Nations and NATO missions, into Afghanistan over the 10 years of that conflict, and into the high Arctic, they can and have carried everything from armoured vehicles and other planes to soldiers and evacuees,’’ said LCol Jordan.

The original role was as a long range cargo carrying aircraft that would replace the CC-119, named “the Flying Boxcar”. One of the first jobs was to transport CF-104 fighter aircraft from Canada, as they were built, over to Canadian bases in Europe.

“That original role is interesting considering that 435 Squadron is now a tactical air-to-air refueling squadron supporting the fighter forces,” he said. “The genesis of the Hercules in Canada started with support to the fighter force, and we continue to do that in different ways 60 years later.”

Over time the aircraft evolved into a SAR platform, all the while continuing with diverse missions at home and around the world.

“We have members with us now whose fathers and even grandfathers flew in RCAF Hercules, including me,” said LCol Jordan.

As the Hercules’ role in the RCAF has evolved over the past 60 years, it will continue to change moving forward, particularly with the arrival of the new CC-295 Kingfisher SAR aircraft to the RCAF fleet. 435 Squadron will adapt, as the new Kingfisher fleet becomes operational and the Buffalo aircraft are retired. The squadron will still conduct SAR, but in an expanded role that includes providing support to the Victoria SAR region. Air-to-air refueling will still take place, as will transport work as required.

“Our role will not change, but our span of responsibility will actually get bigger,” said LCol, Jordan. “The Hercules is a platform that has served us well and will continue to do so.

 


 

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