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Bidding Farewell: 920th Rescue Wing getting ready for replacement fleet of HC-130Js

As the 920th Rescue Wing switches to the new HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, these photos showcase the wing's rich history

As the 920th Rescue Wing switches to the new HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, these photos showcase the wing's rich history with its fleet of HC-130P/N King combat rescue aircraft. Here, local media cover a Cocoa Beach Air Show demonstration (Capt. Cathleen Snow)

Top, Loadmaster Master Sgt. Bob Kurzen helps rescue two German citizens in distress at sea in 2017. (Master Sgt. Mark Borosch)

Top, Loadmaster Master Sgt. Bob Kurzen helps rescue two German citizens in distress at sea in 2017. (Master Sgt. Mark Borosch)

Staff Sgt. Raphael Tavernier walks away from an HC-130P/N King after a flight in 2018. (Staff Sgt. Jared Trimarchi)

Staff Sgt. Raphael Tavernier walks away from an HC-130P/N King after a flight in 2018. (Staff Sgt. Jared Trimarchi)

Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 39th Rescue Squadron fly past show center at Miami Beach during the second annual Salute to American Heroes Air and Sea Show in 2018. (Staff Sgt. Jared Trimarchi)

Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 39th Rescue Squadron fly past show center at Miami Beach during the second annual Salute to American Heroes Air and Sea Show in 2018. (Staff Sgt. Jared Trimarchi)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The Air Force Reserve’s 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, is celebrating the rich history of its fleet of HC-130P/N King combat rescue aircraft as it prepares to receive six new HC-130J Combat King IIs in the spring.

The aircraft is designed to conduct personnel recovery missions, provide a command-and-control platform, in-flight refuel helicopters and carry supplemental fuel for extending range or air refueling.

The arrival of the new J-model C-130s brings with it the elimination of two aviation career fields – flight engineer and airborne mission systems specialist.

“This is the first time in my Air Force career I’m switching jobs,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jesus Ulloa, 39th Rescue Squadron airborne mission systems specialist. “We’re losing quite a few crew members with the new J model, so the job will be a little more demanding on the rest of us.”

To pay homage to the retiring fleet, the wing played host to an HC-130 combat rescue aircraft retirement event in November. Several generations of aviators from around the world attended the event, which included a meet-and-greet social, aircraft static display, aerial demonstration and family-oriented activities.

“Just like with an old car, it’s sad to see the old classic go away,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Decker, 39th RQS flight engineer.

First flown in 1964, the HC-130P/Ns have been deployed to Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in support of Operations Southern and Northern Watch, Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Wing HC-130s also supported continuous alert commitments in Alaska, the Horn of Africa, Vietnam, Grenada and other locations.

The Air Force’s HC/MC-130 recapitalization program is providing HC-130Js as the dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory. The HC-130J is a four-engine turboprop tactical aircraft with hose-and-drogue aerial refueling, airdrop, and command and control capabilities.

Modifications include the ability to receive fuel in-flight, a nose-mounted electro-optical, infrared sensor and a combat systems operator flight deck station.

The HC/MC-130J brings additional countermeasure dispensers, high-altitude ramp and door hydraulics, an additional (fourth) flight deck crew member station, crash-worthy loadmaster scanner position seats, provisions for large aircraft infrared countermeasures and more.

Because the J model brings so many changes, nearly every Reservist in the 39th RQS will undergo either a transition education course or initial qualification course before they’ll be fully qualified to fly the new aircraft. These courses take five to 10 months to complete, depending on which one the member requires.

“The first aircrew will complete mission qualification in February 2020,” said Lt. Col. Ellis Garner, 39th RQS commander.

The first HC-130J Combat King II in the Air Force was delivered to the 79th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, in September 2011. #ReserveReady 

(Goonan is assigned to the 920th RQW public affairs office.)