Because of the C-130’s design, it is able to quickly set aside its current mission and operate as an aeromedical evacuation platform
Since the Vietnam War, the C-130 Hercules has been a workhorse of aeromedical evacuation, and continues to serve as a reliable platform to move patients over long distances, allowing Airmen to provide critical care in the air, aid in disaster relief efforts, and bring warfighters home.
First entering service in 1956, the C-130 is a versatile aircraft, well suited to the aeromedical evacuation mission. Considered rugged and dependable enough for extensive operations in theater, it is capable of operating from rough and challenging runways.
This helps push medical capabilities closer to the front lines. As explained by Shireen Bedi, Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs, in the article Steady and ready: C-130 mainstay of medevac, because of the C-130’s design, it is able to quickly set aside its current mission and operate as an aeromedical evacuation platform.
Not only can it be configured to carry up to 74 litter patients, it is outfitted with electrical and oxygen systems for aeromedical evacuation equipment, and is specifically designed to reduce the negative impact of altitude on patients and medical crews.
As the photos in this post show, currently, the C-130 platform is used as a tactical, intra-theater aeromedical evacuation platform and has been a mainstay of today’s aeromedical evacuation system.