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Lockheed MC-130J Commando II

Special Forces In-Flight Refueler / General Transport Aircraft

United States | 2011

"The Lockheed MC-130J is an in-flight refueling platform intended for Special Forces operations."

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Lockheed MC-130J Commando II Special Forces In-Flight Refueler / General Transport Aircraft.
4 x Rolls-Royce AE-2100D3 turboprop engines developing 4,590 horsepower.
416 mph
670 kph | 362 kts
Max Speed
28,002 ft
8,535 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
3,001 miles
4,830 km | 2,608 nm
Operational Range
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Lockheed MC-130J Commando II Special Forces In-Flight Refueler / General Transport Aircraft.
97.8 ft
29.80 m
O/A Length
132.5 ft
(40.40 m)
O/A Width
38.9 ft
(11.85 m)
O/A Height
85,980 lb
(39,000 kg)
Empty Weight
164,024 lb
(74,400 kg)
Notable series variants as part of the Lockheed MC-130J Commando II family line.
MC-130J "Commando II" - Base Series Designation
C-130J-SOF - Special Operationa platform being offered for export.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/29/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

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.

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May 2020 - An MC-130J Commando II aircraft was used during in-air tests / evaluations by the Air Force Research Laboratory and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) to release (simulated) cruise missiles from the rear-facing cargo ramp.

July 2020 - Sierra Nevada has been given a $700 million USD contract related to the development of radio frequency-based countermeasures for the MC-130J Commando II and AC-130J Ghostrider special mission platforms.

Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Lockheed MC-130J Commando II. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 37 Units

Contractor(s): Lockheed Martin - USA
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Image of the Lockheed MC-130J Commando II
Front view of an MC-130J Commando II; Image courtesy of the USAF.

Going Further...
The Lockheed MC-130J Commando II Special Forces In-Flight Refueler / General Transport Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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