Get to know the KC-130 aircraft

Get to know the KC-130 aircraft

(WMC) - A KC-130 airplane crashed in Mississippi on July 10. Sixteen service members were on board the plane, and all 16 of them died in the crash.

Click here for the latest details on the plane crash and the investigation into what caused it. Below, you can read about the KC-130 aircraft.

The KC-130 is the Marine variant of the C-130 Hercules -- a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and originally built by Lockheed which is now Lockheed Martin.

According to Lockheed Martin, the Hercules first entered American service in 1956, mainly as a result of America's experience in the Korean War when American forces discovered their aerial transports were ill-equipped for missions along the 38th parallel which divides North and South Korea.

"The U.S. military needed a single versatile aircraft that could be used for any and all transportation needs," the aircraft manufacturer said.

Enter the Hercules, the antithesis of the sleek, speedy jets of its day, but it's low center of gravity reaches 360 mph with a huge and easy to use cargo area that could carry up to 40,000 pounds.

Now, the C-130 has become famous for its ability to refuel other aircraft in flight, fly a small military force and its heavy equipment around the world, and for its capability of landing on short, unfinished airstrips.

The aircraft has also been used for firefighting, search and rescue, and as a hurricane hunter, flying straight into the eye of the storm to gather scientific data.

At 60 years in production, C-130s are the longest continuously produced military aircraft -- logging in more than 1.5 million flights, with more than 70 variants and more than 2,400 aircraft.

Lockheed Martin claims there is literally a Hercules airborne somewhere in the world every minute of every day.

The KC-130 first appeared in 1962 with a range of about 1,500 miles as a tanker and more than 3,000 miles as a cargo transport.

The aircraft's latest version, the KC-130J, can weigh as much as 164,000 pounds and is able to fly as much as 4,200 nautical miles.

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