in , ,

Comparison of C-17 VS C-130: The Two Large Cargo Aircraft

For our readers today we have decided to make a comparison between two of the world’s largest cargo aircraft. Both of these excel in their primary goals but still, each of them differs in every aspect by a great margin.  So without further wait, we bring to you a comparison of C-17 VS C-130: the two Large Cargo Aircraft.



C-17 Globemaster III:

C-17 Globemaster III

The C-17 Globemaster III is the youngest of both aircraft as first of it was delivered back in 1991 to USAF for active service. It was operationally ready for service back in 1995. USAF ordered the production of nearly 223 of these C-17s from the aircraft manufacturer Boeing. The active-duty locations for C-17 Globemaster III are as follows.

  • Travis AFB, 312     `6California
  • Dover AFB, Delaware
  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
  • Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey

C-130 Hercules:

C-130 Hercules

As for its rival C-130 Hercules, it entered the service back in 1956 which is 40 years prior to the C-17. Many variants of C-130 were created and many of them do not exist these days. USAF ordered the production of nearly 219 of the C-130 variants named C-130A and the C-130B back in 1956. However, by 1962, USAF was compelled to order a batch of nearly 300 of the newly designed Lockheed martin’s C-130E.

As for the active-duty locations for C-130 Hercules and its other variants are as follows.

  • Dyess Air Force Base, Texas
  • Little Rock AFB, Arkansas
  • Ramstein Air Base, Germany
  • Yokota AB, Japan



The best way to define C-17 in comparison to C-1309 was bigger and better. The size of the C-17 Globemaster III is measured to be 174 feet in length, 55 feet in height and a wingspan of nearly 169 feet and 10 inches.


The variants of the C-130 which are still active nowadays are the C-130E, C-130H, and C-130J. The size of all these variants is nearly the same with the length being 97 feet and 9 inches, height being 38 feet and 10 inches and a wingspan of nearly 132 feet and 7 inches.

Despite their humongous sizes, both C-17 and C-130 do not hold a candle in front of the C-5 Super Galaxy which is the largest cargo transport aircraft serving the US army.

Crew members:-

As far as the number of crew members needed to operate both the C-17 and C-130; they require the same amount of personnel. The C-17 Globemaster III is operated by 3 crewmembers with 1beingt he pilot, the 2nd being the co-pilot and third, being the loadmaster. As for the mission for medical evac, the crew members are increased by 5 persons with 2 being the flight nurses and three of them being the medical technicians. The number of medical crew can be changed depending on the medical mission requirements.

As for the most active variant of C-130, the C-130E, it is operated by a crew of 5 personals. 2 of them are pilots, 1 is a navigator, 1 is a flight engineer and the last one being a loadmaster. As for the other two variants; C-130H and C-130J, they only need to be operated by 3 crewmembers. In the case of Medical Evac missions, the crewmembers are increased by 5 personnel in all three variants.


The primary mission role of both these aircraft is clear which is to lift lots of heavy stuff in the form of both personals and stuff. The C-17 was designed with the need to transport tanks and is capable of easily transporting 1 M1 Abrams Battle tanks along with other tactical vehicles and a wide range of troops. The maximum payload carrying capacity of the C-17 is about 172000 pounds and has a maximum takeoff weight limit of 585000 pounds.

As for the C-130, which was the pinnacle of the weight carrying aircraft back in the 50s, it is not able to carry that much weight. Each variant of the C-130 is able to have a payload capacity for about 43000 pounds with a take-off capacity of 155000 pounds.


The C-17 is powered by 4 of the Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines whose design is based on the Pratt and Whitney PW2040 commercial engine which is used to power the Boeing 757. Each of these 4 engines is capable of producing a thrust of 40440 pounds with the ability to create reverse thrusts as well. These reverse thrusts are amazing as they propel the flow of air in upward direction thus avoiding the debris and dust to be ingested by the engines. Thee reverse thrusts are also able to create enough drag force for the aircraft during its descent.

As for the C-130, it is powered by 4 of the Allison T56-A-11 or -9 turboprop engines which are based on the same powerplants that were used in the earliest model named C-130A. The C-130E used the Allison T56-A-7 turboprop engines but the Lockheed added in two external fuel tanks with an increased capacity of 1290 gallons to increase aircraft’s maximum take-off weight carrying capacity. As for the newer variant of C-130; the C-130H, it was fitted with Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines. As for the last variant C-130J, it had been fitted with Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engine that increased its overall performance when compared with all previous variants.


The primary mission for the C-17 is to deliver both cargo and troops in a strategic manner to all of the US’s operational bases and is known for being the most flexible cargo aircraft to be in the duty of USAF. The aircraft is best renowned for its tactical airlifting and airdropping missions. It also has the ability to transport a large number of ambulatory patients in case of medical evac missions.

As for the C-130, its mission focus lies in tactical airlifting and can operate from dirt strips to transport both cargo and troops in hostile areas. It also serves many of the following other mission roles as well.

  • airlift support
  • Antarctic ice resupply
  • Aeromedical missions
  • weather reconnaissance
  • aerial spraying
  • firefighting duties for the U.S. Forest Service and natural disaster

Related Content

Comparison of F-16 Fighting Falcon VS F-35 Lightning II

Comparison of Su-35 Flanker-E VS F-22 Raptor

Comparison of F-35 Lightning II VS F-22 Raptor

What do you think?

0 points
Upvote Downvote

Total votes: 0

Upvotes: 0

Upvotes percentage: 0.000000%

Downvotes: 0

Downvotes percentage: 0.000000%


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Amazing Facts about the Lockheed Martin’s F-117 Nighthawk: The World’s First Ever Stealth Fighter

Amazing facts about Boeing CH-47 Chinook; The Military Helicopter