Lockheed Martin reached a major milestone with the delivery of its 400th C-130J Super Hercules aircraft on February 9. This Super Hercules is an MC-130J Commando II Special Operations aircraft that is assigned to the U.S. Air Force’s Special Operations Command (AFSOC).
The C-130J Super Hercules is the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules aircraft, with operators in 17 nations. To date, the global fleet of C-130Js has surpassed more than 1.7 million flight hours supporting almost any mission requirement – any time, any place.
«We celebrate this accomplishment with our employees, industry partners and the Super Hercules operator community that spans 17 countries», said George Shultz, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. «These first 400 C-130Js meet a global demand for the proven performance and unmatched versatility found only in a Super Hercules. Its durability, relevancy and capability will continue to set the C-130J apart as the world’s choice in tactical airlift for decades to come».
The C-130J is defined by its versatility. To date, the C-130J supports 17 different mission configurations to include transport (military and commercial), firefighting, search and rescue, Special Operations, weather reconnaissance, and aerial refueling.
This aircraft has another distinction in addition to being the 400th C-130J delivered: it is the 13th MC-130J to be converted into an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship. It will be assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The AC-130J is a highly modified C-130J that provides close-air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance.
The U.S. government operates the largest C-130J Super Hercules fleet in the world. This delivery represents the U.S. government’s continued transition to the C-130J as the common platform across Air Mobility Command, AFSOC, Air Combat Command, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps. The Air National Guard and Reserve still operate a mixed fleet of C-130J and legacy aircraft.
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)