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MC-130J Commando II Aircraft, United States of America

Key Data


The MC-130J Commando II is a special operations tanker aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin for the US Air Force Special Operations Command. Earlier known as the Combat Shadow II, the MC-130J Commando II is an improved variant of the C 130J aircraft. The new aircraft is intended to replace the ageing fleet of MC-130E and P tankers.

The MC-130J Commando II can be deployed globally for missions requiring clandestine, single ship/formation low-level in-flight refuelling (IFR) for the helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft of the Special Operation Forces. The aircraft supports infiltration/exfiltration and resupply missions and can also perform air-drops and landings on remote airfields.

MC-130J orders and deliveries

"The first MC-130J was delivered to a new training facility at Kirtland Air Force Base in October 2011."

In mid 2008, Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract to deliver MC 130J and HC-130J aircraft to the special operations forces (SOF). The first aircraft was delivered to the United States Air Force's Special Operations Command (AFSOC) at Cannon Air Force Base in September 2011.

Cannon Air Force Base received the seventh MC 130J aircraft in June 2012 and eighth in August 2012. The final aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2017.

The first MC-130J was delivered to a new training facility at Kirtland Air Force Base in October 2011.

MC-130J development

Related project

C-130J Hercules Tactical Transport Aircraft

The Lockheed Martin C-130 is the US Air Force principal tactical cargo and personnel transport aircraft.

The MC-130J Commando II was developed under the AC/MC-130J programme (formerly known as SOF Tanker Recapitalization). The AC/MC-130J programme used the proven design and technology of the KC-130J tanker to achieve initial operational capability by 2012. The programme will also convert about 16 MC-130Js into AC-130Js by adding a precision strike package.

The production of the first MC-130J aircraft began in October 2009. The first aircraft was rolled out in March 2011. The first flight took place on 29 July 2010. The aircraft was renamed Commando II in March 2012. The MC-130J Commando II aircraft was certified mission capable by the USAF Operational Test and Evaluation Centre in November 2012.

Design features of MC-130J Commando II

The MC-130J Commando II, although using the KC-130J tanker baseline configuration, incorporates design changes and more advanced capabilities. The aircraft features extended service life wing, and integrates additional features to meet the requirements of special operations missions.

The aircraft has a length of 29.3m, wing span of 39.7m and a height of 11.9m. The maximum takeoff weight of the aircraft is 74,389kg.

Cockpit and avionics of MC-130J Commando II

The MC-130J is crewed by two pilots, one combat systems officer and two loadmasters. The cockpit houses an advanced flight station equipped with fully integrated digital avionics. It features head-up displays and multifunctional colour liquid crystal displays for flight control and navigation.

The aircraft is also equipped with Combat Systems Operator (CSO) station and auxiliary operator consoles. The navigation systems include dual global positioning systems and an inertial navigation system.

The cockpit accommodates low-power colour radar and displays showing a digital moving map. Other systems include Electro Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) system, integrated defence systems, and dual SATCOM. It also has provision for Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM).

Cargo and refuelling systems

"The Commando II can fly at a maximum altitude of 28,000ft."

The MC-130J is equipped with an advanced cargo-handling system. The onboard Universal Air Refuelling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI) allows the MC-130J to receive fuel in-flight from boom-equipped tanker aircraft such as KC-135 and KC-10.

The aircraft performs in-flight refuelling of tactical aircraft and helicopters as well as forward-area ground refuelling through its refuelling pods.

Engines and performance

The MC-130J is powered by four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines coupled to four six-bladed Dowty propellers. Each engine, delivering a maximum power output of 3,458kW, is equipped with a 14-stage high pressure (HP) compressor, two-stage HP turbine and two-stage power turbine. The engine and propeller are controlled by dual FADECs (Full Authority Digital Engine Controls).

The Commando II can fly at a maximum altitude of 28,000ft with 19,050kg payload. It has a speed of 362kt at 22,000ft and an unrefueled range of 4,828km.

The Global Military Aircraft Market 2011-2021

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The MC-130J Commando II is a new aerial refuelling aircraft of the US Air Force Special Operations Command.
The MC-130J Commando II of US Air Force Special Operations Command sits on the tarmac after being unveiled at Lockheed Martin's facility in Marietta.
A cockpit view of the MC-130J Commando II of the US Air Force Special Operations Command.
An MC-130J Commando II lands with cargo and supplies during an exercise at Melrose Air Force Range.
An MC-130J Commando II aircraft receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a training flight.
A rear view of a 522nd Special Operations Squadron MC-130J Commando II aircraft flying over New Mexico.