Deployment of the Air Force's C-130J Super Hercules to U.S. Pacific Air Forces began on Monday, with the first of 14 planes arriving at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, according to the Air Force.
Maj. Gen. Mark Dillon, vice commander of Pacific Air Forces, along with Col. Kenneth Moss, 374th Airlift Wing commander, delivered the plane in the final stretch of the journey from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to Yokota Air Base.
The plane, along with the 13 others set to arrive, is being assigned to the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota and will replace the aging C-130H Hercules, on active duty since 1974. The plane was greeted by U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez in a welcoming ceremony that included airmen, family members and Japanese guests.
"Today the United States of America delivered its premier, meanest, toughest, most tactical machine in the world, the J model," said Martinez, according to Stars and Stripes.
Martinez went on to reaffirm U.S. support and its "ever strong commitment" to Japan.
"When you look around the world at the threats that exist in this region, our friends in Japan, they need to know that the United States sends its best … we have the premier tactical airlifter now on Japanese soil," he said.
Developed by Lockheed Martin, the C-130J reduces required man power with automated navigation and engineering systems. The plane flies greater distances at a higher cruising speed, can reach higher altitudes at a much faster rate and can take off and land in shorter distances.
"It's like driving a Ferrari or a Maserati," said Maj. Gen. Dillon. "It has a lot of power. You can land it exactly where you want to on the runway."
The 15 foot longer plane can carry a 164,000 pound payload, with room for six cargo pallets — two more than the C-130H — and 128 passengers, 36 more than the older plane. The new J-model is significantly more cost-effective as well, operating at 30 percent cheaper than its predecessor.
In addition to the planes transportation role, the plane can also be used for in-flight refueling, ground fueling, weather reconnaissance, electronic warfare, medical evacuation, search and rescue, paradrop and special operations, in addition to other missions.
The C-130J has already been in service with U.S. Forces Japan, flown by Special Forces on Okinawa and at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. U.S. Air Force crews have largely contributed to the 1.5 million flight hours of the global Super Hercules fleet, currently operating the largest fleet of C-130J's in the world.