The MC-130J Commando II is replacing the retiring MC-130P Combat Shadow assigned to the 353rd SOG’s 17th Special Operations Squadron. The newest aircraft touched down at Kadena Air Base, Japan after a flight across the Pacific to its new home (Source: US Air Force).
«The Commando II represents a giant leap forward for specialized air mobility», said Major Michael Perry, 17th SOS assistant operations officer. «The MC-130J can carry more, further and faster than any of its predecessors».
According to Defense-aerospace.com, Special operations began using the Combat Shadow in the mid-1980s, conducting air-refueling missions during Operation Just Cause in Panama and in the 1990s during Operation Desert Storm. In the Pacific region, the Combat Shadow aircrafts have supported more than a dozen named operations, from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom to humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations.
«The MC-130J is part of Air Force Special Operations Command’s fleet-wide C-130 recapitalization», said Major Matthew Bartlett, 17th SOS operations officer. The recapitalization began in 2011 with the first MC-130J delivery to Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, in conjunction with the progressive retirements of the MC-130E, AC-130H and MC-130P fleets. The AC-130U, AC-130W and MC-130H are all eventually scheduled to be replaced by Lockheed Martin C-130J aircraft. «The J-model aircraft will be executing the same missions as their predecessors», said Bartlett. «The newer airframes, with their increased efficiency and fleet-common technology, will reduce operational costs to the Air Force».
Perry said the technology sets new standards for safety and accuracy in executing their specialized airdrop, low-level, infiltration and exfiltration, and helicopter/tilt-rotor aerial refueling missions. «We are all excited about the increased capability this brings to our SOF partners as we carry on the 17th SOS legacy of ‘No Mission Too Demanding,’» Perry said.
MC-130J Commando II
The MC-130J Commando II (formerly known as the Combat Shadow II) flies clandestine, or low visibility, single or multiship, low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, and infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of Special Operations Forces (SOF) by airdrop or airland intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories. The MC-130J Commando II primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by airborne threats. Its secondary mission includes the airdrop of leaflets.
The MC-130J includes: advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics; fully populated Combat Systems Operator (CSO) and auxiliary flight deck stations; 13 color multifunctional liquid crystal displays; head-up displays; fully integrated navigation systems with dual inertial navigation system and global positioning system; integrated defensive systems; low-power color radar; digital moving map display; new turboprop engines with six-bladed, all-composite propellers; digital auto pilot; improved fuel, environmental and ice-protection systems; enhanced cargo-handling system; Universal Air Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI), air refueling pods, Electro Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) System; dual SATCOM (Satellite Communications) for voice/data; 60/90 kVA generators; increased DC electrical output, loadmaster/scanner restraint system; and LAIRCM (Large Aircraft Infrared Counter-Measure) provisions.
The MC-130J Commando II is replacing the aging SOF fleet of 37 MC-130E and P tankers. The first aircraft was delivered in September 2011 to Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, with final delivery expected in fiscal year 2017.
Primary Function: Air refueling of SOF helicopter/tilt rotor aircraft, infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of SOF by airdrop or airland
Builder: Lockheed Martin
Power Plant: 4 Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 Turboprops
Thrust: 4,591 shaft horsepower/3,425 kW
Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches/39.7 meters
Length: 97 feet, 9 inches/29.3 meters
Height: 38 feet, 10 inches/11.9 meters
Speed: 362 knots/416 mph/670 km/h at 22,000 feet/ 6,705 meters
Ceiling: 28,000 feet/8,534 meters with 42,000 lbs/ 19,051 kg payload
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 164,000 lbs/74,389 kg
Range: 3,000 miles/4,828 km
Crew: Two pilots, one Combat Systems Officer (officers), and two Loadmasters (enlisted)
Date Deployed: 2011
Unit Cost: $67 million (fiscal 2010 dollars)
Inventory: Active duty, 37 by fiscal 2017