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USMC KC-130J Harvest HAWK Plus completes successful upgrade test program


A USMC HH+ configured KC-130J fires a Hellfire missile. (US Navy)

An upgrade to the US Marine Corps’ KC-130J Harvest Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit (HAWK) system has successfully completed a rigorous five-week development test and integrated test (DT/IT) test program at NAS China lake in California.

Dubbed Harvest HAWK Plus, or HH+, the system upgrade includes improvements to the modular weapons and sensor kit that can be rolled on/rolled off the KC-130J. The kit includes a fire control console located in the aircraft cargo compartment, an AN/AAQ-30 target sight system which includes EO/IR and TV sensors, and a munitions launcher on the cargo ramp for 10 Griffon missiles, and wing pylons for four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

“These flights proved to be some of the most fruitful flights of the entire detachment,” said Major Nate Houle, test pilot/project officer for Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX-20). “The repeated ability of multiple fleet operators to rapidly learn and employ the system in an operationally relevant tactical scenario within a short time span became a staple of each flight. To a Marine, each operator left the flight impressed with the system and eager for fleet deployment.”

The HH+ upgrade corrects undefined “hardware and software deficiencies” on the system, and paves the way for an engineering change proposal (ECP) to improve the Hellfire capacity and allow for future capability expansion.