Kolwezi, Africa 1978.

French Foreign Legion Paratroops must parachute in quickly to stop a rebel army massacring defenseless civilians. Years before, Belgian Para-Commandos jumped from USAF C-130s into the Congo to rescue hostages in Operation Dragon Rouge. A plane breaks down and the French Paratroops must cram 80 men into C-130s that can take 64 Paratroops. The four 4,508 horsepower engine C-130H can haul 42,650 pounds yet the two 6,100 horsepower engined C-160 Transall can carry 88 Paratroops or 35, 273 pounds of cargo. Why can the Transall carry more Paratroops with less power?

Note wheel bulges under the wings

The C-130's wheels are partially held in the fuselage, robbing the Airborne of 14 Paratroop seats, the C-160 Transall's wheels are completely outside in aerodynamic stubs. The latest "J" model C-130 Hercules has propfans to go faster but still can only carry 64 Paratroops. The U.S. Airborne and U.S. Air Force has made tremendous strides in Paratrooper-carrying capacity from the piston-engined aircraft of the 1950s, but it hurts itself when it doesn't fully capitalize on advanced aerodynamics due to internal loading and seating procedures and set-up.

The time has come for the same number of men that can be airlanded to be able to be airdropped --the problem is volume, not weight. The U.S. Army by not closely controlling their Soldier's load and insuring they stay within a resonable limit are giving the U.S. Air Force a reason to consider reducing the C-130 Paratrooper load from 64 to a mere 58! a serious mistake for the power projection capabilities of the U.S. Airborne. There are many ways to reduce the Paratrooper's load, in fact the entire AES web site is devoted to in-depth explanations of how. The Army should tell the AF that it will keep its Paratrooper weights in check by using a DROP acronymn planning steps in the 5 paragraph operations order, and keep the 64 jumper total for the C-130. Then together they should BOTH work to get the same number of jumpers onboard as can be airlanded by reduced volume T-21-type parachutes with reserve on the back, smaller weapons like the M4 5.56mm carbines that do not need M1950 weapons cases.

Note 6 bladed propfans for high cruise speeds

While it is encouraging to see that the AF is buying the stretched fuselage version of the C-130J-30 which can seat 92-96 Paratroopers, there is still much that can be done with existing Hercules aircraft. By pushing the wheels out on the new C-130J and retrofitting them to current E/H models we can get 78+ Paratroops per Hercules--that's a squad and a half of Airborne infantry plus a key leader, or attachment (forward observer, TACP etc); more combat power "mass" on the drop zone with less aircraft. Five C-130s could then carry the number of Paratroops of six C-130s--saving money improving combat power and flexibility. For the same airlift we get almost an entire Airborne infantry company's worth of combat power.

FIX THIS CLUTTER! rucks go where the reserves are!

I recently had a look at a C-130 fuselage that is used for static load training. Inside by the wheel wells, the covering was gone. I measured with a ruler how far the wheels really jut into the cabin = 12 inches. It seems reasonable to me that with only this intrusion, that some slightly higher but less deep bench seating could be placed there minus the inside covering to get our 14 missing seats back. The fix we need may only require some simple inside arrangements to get over an entire squad more of combat power per C-130. The current idea is to use "C-17" style individual folding seats instead of bech seats. This is an excellent opportunity to add 14 seats along the wheel wheels by using a wedge shaped bottom seat instead of a square so the Paratrooper's legs can stretch out in less room.

4 retracting seats could be supplied in front of the two side jump doors. Notice the two jumpmasters and USAF Loadmaster in the picture above. Above them is the left jump door. Note that there are no seats there. We could easily have a pair of seats there for the 2 Jumpmasters that would slide forward under the C-17 style seats just prior to a jump. 2 others would side on the other side's jump door seats. In a crash landing, the occupants of these seats would jettison their seat bench and open the jump doors for egress. This would boost combat jumper power by 4-18 Paratroopers per C-130J.


Compare this to the cluttered T-10 set-up!

We could "combat concentrate" now to 80 Paratroops for war emergency but its cramped and less safe. By adopting a T-10D or "T-21" static-line Parachute with reserve on the back, an inner pouch for the kit bag, split-saddle leg straps, jumping 80 from a C-130 could be routine--"train the same way we fight"--there are enough "surprises" already when the combat jump is for real. Less cluttered parachutes with comfortable leg straps that can be worn tightened would make this seating tolerable. The key is to reduce the volume/clutter of the Airborne operation---minimalize. Jump smaller M4 5.56mm carbines instead of full length M16A2 5.56mm assault rifles so M1950 weapons cases can be left back in supply. The only differance between a Paratrooper and an infantry "light fighter" equipment wise would be his rucksack rigged for lowering at his chest and the parachute SYSTEM on his back.

By using deployment bags that stay attached to the canopy instead of each Paratrooper's static lines, the 2 jump safeties need not stay onboard to manhandle dozens of drag inducing static line/deployment bags. Side door jumping from the C-17 is ruining deployment bags trailing from their static lines at an alarming rate, by eliminating d-bags on them, you solve this problem completely. Only static-lines would trail from the jump doors--after controlling everyone else's static lines--the Safeties would jump in peacetime as they would in war--with the USAF Loadmasters pulling in the static-lines, closing the jump doors even as the aircraft flies away at high speeds now unhindered by deployment bag drag. The Safeties performing the same static-line control task and jumping in peacetime and war means greater safety and no "surprises" when its a shooting war. The current wartime jump SOP is for no Safeties to control static-lines: an open invitation to towed jumpers blocking the door for an entire stick, and poor jumper exits entanglements, fatalities: lost combat power on the drop zone.

We should jump in training the same way we would jump in a fight. Safeties always jumping means 80 jumpers per C-130 as routine. With the less strain on the anchor line cables via the elimination of deployment bags connected to the static-lines it may even be possible to boost the number of jumpers to 92--the same that can be airlanded.

If you figure 300 pounds per jumper, at 80 Paratroops you still come to 24,000 pounds--way under the C-130's 42,650 pound limit. The Hercules has plenty of power for high cruising speed and maneuvering. The problem is volume--compounded by our own jumper clutter--solve this and the Hercules beats the Transall with speed and almost the same number of Paratroopers for mass on the drop zone.


The long fuselage "J" model for the RAF can carry 92 Paratroopers! According to GAO reports the stretch model (C-130J-130) will hold 92 PARAS!!! with a cruising speed of 340 Kts, 2450 nm range, and 1950 ft take off roll. 7 pallets, 97 litters, 128 troops, 24 CDS bundles. WOW!!!

Perhaps, the U.S. Air Force doesn't want to buy more Hercules aircraft, wanting instead to buy more capable C17 Globemaster IIIs? Regardless, Congress is mandating C-130 production lines stay open with the "J" model propfan--why not write to your Senator/Congressman and request that the C-130J-30 models be bought and older E/H models have their wheel wells removed from the fuselage and/or have their internal seating improved since we'll be using the Hercules into the 21st Century?

President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1414
Fax (202) 456-2461

Rep. Denny Hestert
2428 Rayburn House
Office Building
Washington, DC 20515


The Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force at the time, General Folgleman wrote the 1st TSG (A) Director, Mike Sparks on our suggested C-130 improvements:

A LTC at Headquarters U.S. Air Force writes:

" First of all, I appologize for coming accross a bit abrupt.

Your WEB page is really very well done. I am sure there are ways to increase the number of forces accross the drop zone if some out-of-the-box thinking is employed. (Amount of equipment per trooper, etc). My only point about the planes is that because the C-130 carries a much wider and heavier variety of cargo, not just Paratroopers, it requires a far more robust landing gear system. Carrying Paratroopers is but one of the missions, and the one with the lightest load, at that. The farther the gear is moved out from the main structure of the fuselage, the more stress it must endure. Also, the Herk landing gear must distribute up to 175,000 lbs of weight in such a way that it is distributed accross as wide a tire footprint as possible. There are many other factors involved here, that I'm quite sure I am not aware of.

The "new" C-130J is a new airplane in engines and avionics. The wing and other major structural components remained the same for good reason, they are proven and are very expensive to design, engineer and develop. . . and then test and certify. It really would be better to design an entirely new plane than try to change these components much from their current design. (Remember, this plane was basically designed in 1953-54!)

Rest assured though, that there will come a time (perhaps not too far off) when a replacement plane will indeed be designed from scratch, and we will need folks like yourself to provide the critical input to make the improvements we need".


Want Private Murphy in your pocket?