Jan. 16 (UPI) -- France has welcomed its first C-130J Super Hercules aircraft during a ceremony at Orleans-Bricy Air Base.
Florence Parly, France's minister of the Armed Forces, was on hand Monday with other officials from France, the United States and Lockheed Martin, the aircraft's manufacturer, for the delivery of the country's first of two C-130Js.
In all, France will receive four Super Hercules aircraft -- two C-130J-30 combat delivery airlifters and two KC-130J aerial refuelers, to be used for helicopters, by 2020.
Work on the $133.4 million contract is being performed at the company's plant in Marietta, Ga. France ordered the aircraft in February 2016.
The C-130J-30 is a stretched-out version of the C-130J military transport plane, adding 15 feet to the fuselage and making more room for cargo. It can carry a maximum payload of 44,000 pounds with a range of 2,417 miles and a top speed of 410 mph.
France first acquired C-130Hs in 1987, and the country's new C-130Js will be integrated into its existing Hercules fleet as part of the 62nd Transport Wing.
"As a long-time Hercules operator, France has continuously demonstrated to the world the unmatched qualities and versatility found only in a C-130," George Shultz, vice president and general manager for Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin said at the ceremony. "France's new Super Hercules fleet delivers increased power, speed and capabilities to ensure that Armée de l'Air crews continue to meet -- and exceed -- mission requirements for decades to come."
France is the 17th country using the C-130J airlifter, according to Lockheed Martin.