Special Forces In-Flight Refueler / General Transport Aircraft
The Lockheed MC-130J is an in-flight refueling platform intended for Special Forces operations.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: Front view of an MC-130J Commando II; Image courtesy of the USAF.
The Lockheed MC-130J "Commando II" is an in-flight refueling platform of the United States Air Force, intended to refuel helicopter and tilt-rotor units of Special Operations Forces(SOF). The MC-130J is an offshoot of the long-running Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" transport and retains much of the form and function of its original design. The MC-130J has introduced Head-Up Displays (HUDs) for the pilot positions, an all-glass cockpit, new turboprop engines and air-refueling pods as part of its modification. The Commando II is specially designed for low-altitude operations over enemy territory and is typically flown as a night intruder to keep a low profile and increase crew survivability. The USAF expects to stock some 37 MC-130J units by the end of 2017 while the MC-130J line is to replace the aged stock of MC-130E and MC-130P aircraft. First delivery of the J-model was in 2011 to Cannon AFB of New Mexico.
Beyond its refueling capabilities, the MC-130J can also be called on to resupply SOF forces and also extract / airdrop combat elements and needed supplies. It retains the cargo hauling capability of the C-130 as well as its rear-mounted powered door. The high-wing design provides excellent control at low altitudes and low speeds while also allowing for rough-field landings when required. The heart of the C-130 design is Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) and the MC-130J keeps this quality available. For its primary refueling role, MC-130J is outfitted with four underwing pods, two to each wing and set between the two engines per wing.
The MC-130J is typically crewed by five to include two pilots, a Combat Systems Officer (CSO) and a pair of Loadmasters for cargo management. The cockpit provides access to thirteen full-color Multi-Function Display (MFD) units as well as a digital autopilot feature. A color radar aids in mission awareness as does a digital Moving Map Display (MMD). Internal systems have been improved over previous C-130 iterations in the way of deicing units, fuel efficiency and general cargo management. GPS navigation, as well as inertial navigation, are standard as is an Electro-Optical / Infrared (EO/IR) system. Voice and data are transmitted and secured through a SATCOM arrangement.
Dimensions of the MC-130J include a wingspan of 132 feet, 7 inches, a length of 97 feet, 9 inches and a height of 38 feet, 10 inches. Maximum take-off weight is 164,000 lbs.
Key to the success of the newer MC-130J is its 4 x Rolls-Royce AE-2100D3 turboprop engines. These drive six-blade composite propellers at 4,590 shaft horsepower. Combined with its robust airframe, the Commando II can reach speeds of 415 miles per hour up to a ceiling of 28,000 feet. Range is listed at 3,000 miles, giving the Commando Ii a broad reach for special forces missions.
The MC-130J Commando II has already seen combat operational service with special forces elements since its introduction.
Status Active, In-Service
[ 37 Units ] : Lockheed Martin - USA
- Aerial Refueling
- Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC)
- Special Forces
97.77 ft (29.8 m)
132.55 ft (40.4 m)
38.88 ft (11.85 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Lockheed MC-130J Commando II production model)
85,980 lb (39,000 kg)
164,024 lb (74,400 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Lockheed MC-130J Commando II production model)
4 x Rolls-Royce AE-2100D3 turboprop engines developing 4,590 horsepower.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Lockheed MC-130J Commando II production model)
416 mph (670 kph; 362 kts)
28,002 feet (8,535 m; 5.3 miles)
3,001 miles (4,830 km; 2,608 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Lockheed MC-130J Commando II production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Lockheed MC-130J Commando II production model)
MC-130J "Commando II" - Base Series Designation
C-130J-SOF - Special Operationa platform being offered for export.
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