This aircraft was circling very low during the day, wondering if anyone could identify this plane.

this was spotted flying over the san francisco bay area.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ If you feel comfortable doing so, telling us the approximate location and date/time the photo was taken can help ID it. $\endgroup$
    – BruceWayne
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ It’s definitely a C-130. If you tell us your approximate location, we may be able to pin down the exact variant or even the tail number. $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ And FWIW, that's not really low, at least for C-130 training flights hereabouts. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf You don't know what lens it was taken with. With a wide-angle it could have been at 100ft :-) $\endgroup$ Commented May 15, 2020 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ @DJClayworth it was taken from a phone... the rectangular size tells us that much at least. $\endgroup$
    – SnakeDoc
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 21:08

3 Answers 3


Going by probability it's likely a KC-130 as there are quite a few of those in the world. The recognition feature would be that it has four teardrop pieces of underwing gear with the external fuel tanks inboard and the drogue refuelling systems on the outboard. There are no other obvious lumps or bumps in the picture to indicate other mission equipment such as cameras or weapons systems to narrow down which particular variant it could be.

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    $\begingroup$ It could also be an AF HC-130. The USCG also has HC-130s, but their white and orange paint job would indicate this is not a USCG aircraft.. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 16:30

Looks like It's Lockheed C130 Hercules, but don't know which variant it is.

  • $\begingroup$ it's got either extra-range fuel tanks or weapons systems installed... $\endgroup$ Commented May 15, 2020 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ @nielsnielsen The only armed C-130's are the AC-130 gunships, and this is clearly not a gunship. $\endgroup$
    – Davidw
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Davidw There are other C-130 variants with weapons systems on them such as the KC-130J of the USMC which can, in certain fits, carry hellfire missiles and drop small-diameter bombs. m.youtube.com/watch?v=hIodcKSIARU $\endgroup$
    – Arkhem
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 22:16

It's it's either KC-130E/H, MC-130P, HC-130P/N, all of which are In-flight Refueling capable as this C130 is due to the outboard Refueling pods on either wing, the items inboard of those are the external fuel tanks (which every variant has) both are hard mounted and fixed and can't be air dropped as some like to think. Without a more detailed photo along with a more of side profile exact model and variant can't be known. Try looking up which branch either Navy/Marines, Coast Guard (since paint scheme can't be identified either), or Air Force operates C-130s and you should get an answer. It's more then likely one of the first 2 branches mentioned more probably the first one given the location you stated and will wind up being a KC-130 operates by either Navy or the Marine Corps


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