First MC-130W delivered to USAF

Highly modified C-130 ready for war on terrorism

The first of a new model of Combat Talon was delivered for active duty to Robins Air Force Base on June 28th:

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


  1. $32M/airplane for the modification. It seems to me they’d have been better off buying new. What the USAF really needs is a new tactical airlifter. Something quiet and fast that can land on a short strip with IR supression would be nice. A low RF return would be good for those times when it’s used to tank stealth fighters.

  2. No terrain-following/terrain-avoidance though? I take it that the statment that they ‘will be able to accomplish many of the same missions as the previous ones’ is a cute way of saying one of the major functions of the airframe has been budgetted out. Oh well, atleast that means that some poor soul out there is being spared from a hellish fate of maintaining the an/apq-170 radar set. Huzzah.