First flown as a prototype for the United States Air Force in August 1954, the C-130 Hercules, as a troop transport, disaster relief and aerial tanker aircraft has been a mainstay of the RAF transport fleet since the late 1960s (along with those of many other air forces); it has seen extensive operational use including the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The example at RAF Museum Cosford was the last RAF C130K Mk.3 to be retired; the remaining RAF C-130K Hercules Mk.1 and Mk 3A aircraft, now based at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire are due to remain in service until December 2012. They are supplemented by 24 surviving C-130J C4/C5 aircraft, delivered from 1999 (one was destroyed in Iraq in 2007). The C4 is almost the same size as the C3 aircraft, but with a slightly shorter fuselage, while the C5 is the same size as the C1. The C-130J was modified and upgraded to include new Allison AE turboprop engines and Dowty Aerospace six-bladed composite propellers.