Reporter: Craig Smith
DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - If someone you love is in the service, a new plane that just arrived at David Monthan could save their life.
It's a new version of the C-130 built to fly rescue missions deep into hostile territory. It's equipped with the best gear ever, to bring you back alive.
To someone in trouble in enemy territory, the sound of the HC-130J isn't the roar of an airplane, it's the song of a rescuing angel.
Davis Monthan's 79th Rescue Squadron is the first in the Air Force to get the new plane.
Major Nelson Bennett flew the new plane in. He likes how the new aircraft's enhanced power, range and sensors help him reach someone in trouble and bring him home.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "What's the experience like when you've secured the person you came to get; they're safely on board your aircraft?"
Major Bennett says that can be very complex.
"But to actually achieve that goal and get them on board, it's like they're a part of your family as if you've worked very hard to get this person where they needed to go."
The first C-130s flew almost 60 years ago but the design is so solid and versatile it's been upgraded again and again. This newest version is a thoroughly modern aircraft.
Pods on the wings hold extra fuel to fly deep into trouble. Two pods include in-air refueling hoses to help helicopters fly even deeper.
For crew chief, Staff Sergeant Derek Ruud, it's a challenge to learn the enhanced rescue systems it's his job to maintain.
Craig Smith pointed to a spherical pod under the nose and said, "I see this ball under the nose. What's that?"
Staff Sgt Ruud said, "That's a E-Y-R ball. It's basically a souped up camera. We can lock onto targets with various different images and we can track the targets. So if we need to pinpoint a person stuck on the side of a mountain, we can lock on and lead people looking for them down to them if we need to."
And the cavernous cargo bay can hold supplies to airdrop, or airmen ready to parachute into trouble to help get you out.
The HC-130J costs about 66 million dollars a copy but ask the guy it just rescued it that was money well spent.