MC-130J Commando II Initial Operational Capability (IOC): 2012 Maiden Flight: 23 September 2010 Total Production: 122 Unitary Cost: USD$115 million Total Cost: USD$14 billion Also Known As:HC-130J, HC-130J Combat King II and MC-130J Combat Shadow II Origin:United States of America Corporations:Lockheed Martin
Description: The Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules is a medium-size transport aircraft designed to operate from rough dirt strips. The first prototype, the YC-130A, maiden flight took place in 1954. The first model C-130A achieved initial operational capability in December1956 becoming thereafter the most important cargo transport aircraft of the free world. Since then, the C-130s had assumed a wide range of military tasks such as airlift, airdrop, reconnaissance, special operations, close air support, electronic warfare, air refueling, etc. The C-130 features an aft loading ramp and door and is able to accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, including everything from utility helicopters and six- to eight-wheeled armored vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel. The Hercules can be configured to carry out different missions and re-configured to its original cargo transport mission.
To date, more than 2,400 C-130s in more than 70 variants to five basic models (A, B , E, H and J) have been produced for customers worldwide. In the first decade of 21st century the majority of C-130s in service belong to the E, H and J basic models introduced in the early 1960s, in the 1970s and late 1990s respectively. The US Air Force, Navy and Marines operate the C-130 aircraft as well as the air forces of 66+ other nations worldwide. The US Air Force plans to convert the surviving E and H models to the C-130AMP (Avionics Modernization Program) configuration beginning in 2007. AMP covers avionics modernization and some engine improvements to keep the fleet flying and serviceable well beyond 2020.
The MC-130J Commando II, formerly Combat Shadow II, and HC-130J are a derivative of the US Marine Corps KC-130J tanker selected by the US Air Force to replace the aging fleets of both Air Combat Command (ACC) and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) aircraft. Currently, Lockheed Martin is working on both configurations. The HC/MC-130J aircraft will provide global, day, night, and adverse weather capability to infiltrate, re-supply and ex-filtrate US and allied special operation forces. The HC-130J designation also refers to a distinct configuration closer to the C-130J aircraft and employed by the US Coast Guard.
The US Air Force MC-130J Combat Shadow II will fly clandestine, or low visibility, single or multi-ship low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters, and infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces by airdrop or airland. The MC-130J will primarily fly missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by airborne threats. In March 2012, the US Air Force Special Operations Command officially changed the name of the MC-130J to Commando II to better reflect the multi-mission role of the aircraft and the units that will fly them.