MC-130J Takes First Flight

The Air Force’s first MC-130J Combat Shadow II aircraft completed its maiden flight, taking to the skies from Lockheed Martin’s aircraft plant in Marietta, Ga. The April 20 flight came less than one month after the aircraft rolled off the Marietta assembly line. It is now undergoing a series of flight tests prior to its scheduled delivery in September to Cannon AFB, N.M. This airframe is the first of a new fleet of MC-130Js that Lockheed is building for Air Force Special Operations Command to replace existing MC-130P Combat Shadows that are already decades old. The new aircraft will support covert infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces. AFSOC plans to have the first unit of MC-130Js ready for use in 2012. Lockheed is already under contract to build 15 MC-130Js. (Lockheed release)