The 353rd Special Operations Group at Kadena AB, Japan, began its transition from MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft to the new MC-130J Commando II in December. The first Commando II, which is replacing the 17th Special Operations Squadron’s Combat Shadows, landed at the base Dec. 21. The new aircraft represents a big capability leap for the squadron’s specialized air mobility and air refueling mission, said Maj. Michael Perry, the 17th SOS assistant operations officer. There are currently around 10 MC-130 Combat Shadows at Kadena, Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Capt. Susan Harrington told Air Force Magazine, and eventually these will all be replaced by 10 MC-130Js as part of USAF’s plan to recap the C-130 fleet. “However, (Air Force Special Operations Command) does not yet have a projected date for when the last MC-130J will be delivered,” she added. The Air Force’s projected final delivery date for the MC-130J fleet is in Fiscal 2017. The MC-130 recap plan began in 2011, when the first MC-130J arrived at Cannon AFB, N.M. The new J model Commando IIs have greater range, capacity, and speed, and will feature fleet-common technology with other C-130Js, reducing operational costs, Kadena officials noted.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."