Hercules and Saudi Arabia: A historic partnership

Photo shows the first C-130 aircraft delivered in Saudi Arabia in 1965 . (File photo/Supplied )
Updated 15 March 2019

Hercules and Saudi Arabia: A historic partnership

  • The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) relies on the C-130 to support a myriad of tactical airlift requirements
  • At its peak, the Kingdom’s Hercules fleet was made up of 65 aircraft

RIYADH: The C-130 Hercules transport aircraft has long been known as the world’s workhorse, toiling away for 70 nations around the globe, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) relies on the C-130 to support a myriad of tactical airlift requirements, from regional peacekeeping exercises to delivering much-needed resources to countries and communities afflicted by natural disasters. Saudi Arabia’s C-130s are national assets that have long functioned as global resources. 

“The Kingdom is home to the largest C-130 fleet outside of the United States. Our presence in the Kingdom goes back to 1965 when we delivered the first C-130 aircraft. Since then, our relationship has strengthened into a long-term relationship based on innovation, technology, security and active participation toward the realization of Saudi Vision 2030,” said Joseph Rank, chief executive, Lockheed Martin Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has an active fleet of Hercules aircraft variations, including 52 C-130H/KC-130/L-100. At its peak, the Kingdom’s Hercules fleet was made up of 65 aircraft. 

The Kingdom expanded its presence as a leader in the worldwide Hercules community in 2013 when it chose the C-130J Super Hercules with its initial acquisition of two KC-130J aerial refuelers. 

The KC-130J is a variant of the C-130J Super Hercules, the current and most advanced C-130 production model. To date, 20 nations around the world operate or plan to operate Super Hercules aircraft.



The C-130J represents a complete reinvention of the legacy Hercules. Advanced avionics, two head-up displays, reduced crew requirements, automated maintenance systems, upgraded engines and Dowty six-bladed propellers help the C-130J go further and faster than older models. 

The KC-130J operates as a tactical transport or tanker, with the ability to refuel fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. 

The KC-130J also has the capability to conduct rapid ground refueling operations. The KC-130J can also be used for airland and airdrop delivery of combat troops, personnel and cargo. 

“The RSAF’s KC-130Js make a strong Hercules fleet even stronger and more dynamic. The KC-130J is a proven platform that is defined by its power, versatility and unmatched capabilities. It’s a natural addition to the RSAF’s fleet and we are proud that the RSAF crews use the KC-130J to support critical and vital transport and tanker requirements,” said Christopher Antone, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Vice President for Strategic Pursuits and Business Development – Saudi Arabia.

Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki at a press briefing. (SPA file photo)
Updated 19 March 2019

Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

  • Houthis want to disturb peace, says coalition spokesman
  • Stockholm peace agreement under strain

RIYADH: The Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government is committed to protecting regional and global security, a spokesman said Monday.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki was asked at a press briefing about Houthi militias threatening to target the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“This is their way to disturb peace,” Al-Maliki replied. “Previously the Houthis targeted Riyadh with a ballistic missile, violating all international laws by attacking a city that has more than 8 million civilians. We take all precautions to protect civilians and vital areas. The coalition works to protect regional and international security.”

Al-Maliki said Houthis had targeted Saudi border towns several times, the most recent incident taking place in Abha last Friday.

But the Saudi Royal Air Defense Force had shot down a drone that was targeting civilians, he added.

He said four Saudi nationals and an Indian expatriate were injured in the attack because of falling debris.

The drone wreckage showed the characteristics and specifications of Iranian manufacturing, he said, which proved Iran was continuing to smuggle arms to the militias.

He warned the Houthis to refrain from targeting civilians because the coalition, in line with international humanitarian law, had every right to counter such threats.

He said the coalition was making efforts to neutralize ballistic missiles and dismantle their capabilities, as the coalition’s joint command would not allow the militia to possess weapons that threatened civilian lives and peace.

Al-Maliki reiterated that the Houthis were targeting Yemeni civilians and continued to violate international laws. 

He also urged Yemenis to try their best to prevent children from being captured by Houthis, who were using them as human shields and child soldiers.

His comments came as the UN tried to salvage a peace deal that was seen as crucial for ending the country’s four-year war.

The Stockholm Agreement was signed by the Yemeni government and Houthi representatives last December.

The main points of the agreement were a prisoner exchange, steps toward a cease-fire in the city of Taiz, and a cease-fire agreement in the city of Hodeidah and its port, as well as ports in Salif and Ras Issa.

Militants triggered the conflict when they seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and attempted to occupy large parts of the country. An Arab coalition intervened in support of the internationally recognized government in March 2015.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015.

Earlier this month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump’s administration opposed curbs on American assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

“The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat the Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.