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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Hercules fleet 'stretched by war'
The C130 or "fat Albert" was brought from America in the 1960s
The officer in charge of RAF Lyneham has said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are stretching the resources of its Hercules fleet.

Gp Cpt Paul Atherton said it was not possible to use the whole fleet because only those with the correct defences could be sent to Afghanistan or Iraq.

"We are stretched and just about keeping our head above water. It is a very big ask of the Hercules force."

It is 40 years this week that the first Hercules arrived at Lyneham, Wiltshire.

The C130 or "fat Albert" was brought from the US in the 1960s and has been a familiar sight in the skies above Wiltshire since then.

Air lift

It was almost at the end of service life in 1982 when it was used in the Falklands War.

Crews working out of Ascension Island refuelled in mid-air on 25-hour missions to supply the British task force.

In 1984 it was drafted in to help the famine in Ethiopia where it worked around the clock dropping grain and medical supplies, at times just 50ft (15.25m) above the ground.

In the first seven months of the first Gulf War, 40,000 flying hours and 12 million miles were clocked up as stores and equipment were dropped to British forces fighting in the desert.

Two years later it was involved in the conflict in the Balkans and, in 1992, the plane helped with the Sarajevo airlift.

The Hercules has spent 40 years flying the world

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