The highly modified C-130, the first of a dozen such modified aircraft, will replace combat losses experienced over time by special operations aviators. Four MC-130H aircraft and one MC-130P have been lost in the war on terrorism. The new aircraft will be able to accomplish many of the same missions as the previous ones, plus they have the ability to air-to-air refuel special operations helicopters, according to Scot Pirc, combat loss replacement program manager with the 572nd Aircraft Sustainment Squadron.
“This aircraft, and the ones that follow, will be able to perform infiltration, exfiltration and helicopter refueling missions, as well as resupply special operations forces,” Mr. Pirc said. He said the new aircraft also will be able to help train AFSOC crews in the air refueling mission.
I hadn’t realized we’d lost five of these planes so far.
According to Mr. Pirc, the program modifies C-130H aircraft from the 1987 to 1990 year group, which is the same time period as the Combat Talon fleet currently in AFSOC service. Modifications include a basic electronic warfare capability to avoid potential threats, ability to work in special light conditions and strengthening of the tail.
Perhaps most importantly, the aircraft is equipped with air refueling pods for in-flight refueling of Special Operations Forces aircraft and combat search and rescue helicopters. The aircraft can also take fuel from other refueling aircraft.
More info and pics at AF.mil.