A Royal Air Force (RAF) Hercules (Lockheed Martin C-130) has marked the completion of operations by the transport aircraft from RAF Akrotiri with a flypast over the Cyprus station.
The last operational Hercules flight took place at 1000 on June 4, 23, when 47 Squadron flew from RAF Akrotiri to RAF Brize Norton. Deputy Commander Operations Air Marshal Harvey Smyth gave a speech at the parade praising the proud history of the aircraft before boarding, along with the current members of 47 Sqn, for the return flight.
Group Captain Simon Cloke, RAF Akoritiri Station Commander and former Hercules pilot gave the final salute at the ceremony. He said “I’m not going to lie there was a little bit of dust in the eye during the event, it’s a great honour and privilege for the station.”
“It’s been in service for 56 years and it’s spent the majority of that time flying in and out of Cyprus,” Wing Commander Richard Fawkes,
903 Expeditionary Air Wing Commanding Officer said.
Squadron Leader Kenny Bracken is the Air Mobility detachment commander at RAF Akrotiri, who has spent 10 years on the Hercules as both an operator and training instructor at RAF Brize Norton. He said, “Today is a momentous occasion, the Herc has been involved in operations all around the world, it’s been a highlight of my career to fly the Herc.”
The Atlas C1 (Airbus A400M) fleet, which has been operating alongside Hercules for some time including assisting with the evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan and Sudan, will now deliver Tactical airlift in support of operations. Atlas is the next generation of tactical air transport and can deliver greater loads (almost twice that of C-130), further and faster.
Possible Asian Buyer for Hercules Fleet
With RAF retiring its Hercules fleet, a number of Asian countries might be interested to acquire some of it to bolster their own transport aircraft fleet. For example, Bangladesh purchased five surplus C-130J C5s from the United Kingdom during early 2018 and late 2019, for an undisclosed sum. The aircraft were re-painted and modernised by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group. Marshall also acted as the resale partner of the UK Ministry of Defence for two ex-RAF C-130Js sold to the Royal Bahraini Air Force. –raf/adj/mhi (Pix: RAF)