The MC-130J is a special operations tanker/mobility aircraft based on the C-130J and designated Commando II (previously Combat Shadow II) in honor of the WWII C-47.
Its primary missions are covert day, night, and adverse weather infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces in hostile or denied territory. They also provide air-drop resupply, rotary wing aerial refueling, and psyops.
MC-130J are fitted with wing-mounted external fuel tanks and drogue refueling pods to refuel HH-60 and CV-22, and can also receive fuel inflight. Specialized systems include fully integrated INS/GPS, color cockpit LCDs, NVG lighting, HUDs, integrated defensive systems including LAIRCM, digital moving map display, EO/IR system, dual secure voice/data satcom, enhanced cargo handling, and extended-life wings.
MC-130Js have secondary leaflet and rubber raiding craft aerial delivery roles for psyops and littoral ingress/egress. Crew is smaller than legacy models, but includes CSO/auxiliary flight deck stations to handle aerial refueling (otherwise performed by the flight engineer). Loadmasters handle remaining flight engineer/comms functions.
FY21 funds procure four airframes under a follow-on multiyear contract through FY22. Funds continue Radio Frequency Countermeasure (RFCM) installation to detect, locate, and respond to emerging threats, as well as Airborne Mission Networking (AbMN), which gives aircrew a common air/ground picture to better manage complex workloads.
MC-130J was pulled out of the baseline C-130J Block 7/8.1 upgrade to fund SOF-specific requirements, but will received Link 16 and CSO station upgrades separately. Development includes HF/VHF/UHF SATCOM Communications Modernization, and USSCOM plans to issue a multiyear Silent Knight TF/TA radar production contract in FY21. The TF/TA radar is housed in a second, small radome between the nose and cockpit giving the MC-130J low-level nighttime/adverse weather penetrating capability to fully replace the legacy MC-130H.
Other mods include defensive systems upgrade, lightweight armor, and variable-speed drogue to refuel diverse aircraft types during a single sortie. FY21 begins Link 16 mods.
Contractors: Lockheed Martin (airframe); Boeing; Sierra Nevada Corp. (RFCM).
First Flight: April 20, 2011.
Delivered: Sept. 29, 2011-present.
IOC: Dec. 7, 2012.
Production: 57 (planned).
Operator: AETC, AFSOC.
Aircraft Location: Cannon AFB, N.M.; Kadena AB, Japan; Kirtland AFB, N.M.; RAF Mildenhall, U.K.
Active Variants: •MC-130J. New-build aircraft based on the standard-length fuselage C-130J.
Dimensions: Span 132.6 ft, length 97.8 ft, height 38.8 ft.
Weight: Max T-O 164,000 lb.
Power Plant: Four Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprops, each 4,591 shp.
Performance: Speed 416 mph, range 3,000 miles (further with air refueling).
Fuel Capacity: 61,360 lb at 150-300 gpm (100 gpm dual, simultaneous refueling).
Ceiling: 28,000 ft with 42,000-lb payload.
Accommodation: Two pilots, CSO, two loadmasters.
Load: 42,000 lb of cargo/personnel (see C-130J for configurations).