In 2009 the Iraqi Air Force ordered six Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Hercules transport aircraft as well as associated equipment, support and services. The total value of the purchase was estimated to be around $1.5 billion. The last three aircraft from this order were delivered in early May 2013 and all three passed through Shannon Airport, Ireland, on their way from the USA to New Al Muthana Air Base, Iraq.

© Frank Grealish -

The total package was to include six C-130J-30s identical to the USAF baseline standard, 28 Rolls Royce AE 2100D3 engines, (24 installed plus four spares), eight BAE Systems AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing Systems (six installed, two spares), eight Alliant Techsystems AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems (six installed plus two spares), as well as other spares, support and training.

The aircraft were delivered to the Iraqi Air Force in two batches of three, with the first batch going via Prestwick, Scotland, in December 2012. The second and final batch (pictured here) passed through Shannon, Ireland, in May 2013.

© Frank Grealish -

The three aircraft, flown by USAF crews and using USAF “Reach” callsigns, were painted in full Iraqi Air Force markings and serials and spent two nights in Shannon before flying out to Souda Bay, Crete, on Friday 3 May. They were accompanied by a US Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) C-130J-30 Hercules crew ferry from the 815th Airlift Squadron, the “Flying Jennies”, part of the 403rd Wing based at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.

© Frank Grealish -

The six Iraqi C-130J-30 Hercules are to be operated by the 23rd Transport Squadron, an airlift squadron that already operates three ex-USAF C-130E Hercules. 23 Transport Squadron is based at New Al Muthana Air Base, located at Baghdad International Airport.

The aircraft that departed Shannon for Souda Bay had the following serials (Reach callsigns in brackets):

Iraqi Air Force C-130J-30
YI-307 (RCH999)
YI-308 (RCH410)
YI-309 (RCH975)

USAF C-130J-30 (crew ferry)
05-8157 (RCH477)