While reading this question I saw an image of a plane marked as a US Marines plane of some sort with thrusters or rockets of some sort attached to the sides just past the CG. What plane is this and why are the rockets there?

Image: enter image description here


2 Answers 2


As the source linked next to the image in the other question says, it is a C-130 performing a "rocket assisted takeoff".

These are performed to safely achieve V1 on short airfields, where the aircraft would not be able to take off otherwise.

The rockets (or "bottles") use solid fuel, so they are usually single-use.

I have no data on the thrust provided by one of them, but the wikipedia article mentions that a "smaller version" made for the civilian market, could deliver "250 pounds of thrust for 12 seconds", so it is reasonable to expect that the thrust provided by the larger bottles would be larger.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you expand on that and explain how much the rockets do? how and when are they used as it appears to me as if they would be quite expensive to use only once! $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented Aug 5, 2017 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ They are used for takeoffs from either short, soft or restrictive fields with nearby obstacles requiring an very short ground roll and improved performance climb. The system itself is relatively reasonable in price; solid fuel rockets are cheap and easy to reload and replace. In this application, the JATO system is being used just for public demonstration of said capabilities $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2017 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ An experiment with a C130 was to see if those rockets could be used to stop the plane, to land it in a stadium. This was one plan to rescue the hostages in Iran in 1978 as there was no helicopter with the range to make it to Tehran and back. Unfortunately, that didn't work very well. No one was killed during the tests but one C130 was destroyed in the attempt. The V22 Osprey was a direct offshoot of that rescue attempt - a VTOL aircraft with much greater speed and range. $\endgroup$
    – tj1000
    Commented Aug 5, 2017 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ How long of a takeoff run does the C130 need when using these? $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented Aug 5, 2017 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ @FlorianCastellane you're welcome to try it yourself and write your answer :) $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 8:23

This C-130 is with the Blue Angels demonstration team. Affectionately nicknamed Fat Albert. The rockets are JATO(Jet Assisted TakeOff) bottles, and basically jets/rockets that provide a temporary thrust boost for shorter take-offs.


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