The US Air Force’s (USAF) 17th Special Operations Squadron (17th SOS) retired the last two MC-130P Combat Shadow special mission aircraft from the Pacific region.
After completing the final formation flight at Kadena Air Base, Japan, in October 2014, the aircraft were sent to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, US.
17th SOS commander lieutenant colonel Nathan Colunga said the aircraft performed missions every time during its service life and was truly needed by the air force over the last 50 years.
"The MC-130P’s legacy will not be forgotten as we mark this historic moment in the lineage of the 17th SOS, Air Force Special Operations Command and the Combat Shadow community at large."
The MC-130P was manufactured by Lockheed Martin in the 1960s. It is a modified C-130E/H series airframe designed for infiltration, exfiltration and re-supply of special operations forces, and is also used for air refuelling of special operations helicopter and tilt-rotor aircraft.
Previously designated as HC-130N/P, the aircraft entered service with the Air Force Special Operations Command in the mid-1980s, and conducted critical air refuelling missions during ‘Operation Just Cause’ in Panama and ‘Operation Desert Storm’ in the early 1990s.
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In the Pacific region alone, the aircraft supported more than a dozen operations, including combat missions during ‘Operations Enduring Freedom’ and ‘Iraqi Freedom’ to humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations across Asia.
The aircraft use 1960s technology and are being replaced by the new MC-130J Commando II. They will be used in low-level in-flight refuelling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft. In addition, they are deployed for delivering special operations forces by airdrop in politically sensitive or hostile territories.
Image: The MC-130P Combat Shadow team performs the final checks before takeoff on Kadena Air Base, Japan. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Stephen G. Eigel.