Lockheed has unveiled the first aircraft of a new fleet of MC-130J Combat Shadow IIs for the US Air Force (USAF) Special Operations Command (AFSOC).

The new aircraft is based on a KC-130J tanker and features enhanced service life, an enhanced cargo-handling system, universal aerial refuelling receptacle slipway installation and powerful electrical generators.

The aircraft also features an electro-optical / infrared sensor, a combat systems operator station on the flight deck and provisions for the large aircraft infrared countermeasures system.

USAFSOC commander Lieutenant General Donald C Wurster said the MC-130J’s multimission capabilities would increase the combat performance of AFSOC worldwide.

“The MC-130J’s advanced sensors, expanded avionics and universal aerial refuelling capability will enable the highly skilled Airmen of AFSOC to operate under difficult conditions with unmatched speed and capability,” he added.

The USAF has contracted Lockheed to build 15 MC 130Js to replace its current aging fleet.