The MC-130J Amphibious Capability (MAC) is a proposed United States Special Operations COMmand (SOCOM) variant of the ubiquitous Lockheed Martin C-130J "Super Hercules" transport. With the growing threat of China in the Pacific, and Russian incursions witnessed elsewhere, the need for an amphibian-minded platform has once-again come to the forefront of the special operating branch of the United States Armed Forces. An artist's concept was briefly showcased in a May 19th, 2021 presentation by SOCOM's Program Executive Officer for Fixed-Wing (PEO-FW).
The long-running Lockheed C-130 "Hercules", on which the evolved J-model is based in, has evolved considerably since its 1950s debut - eventually fully-modernized in the notable C-130J Super Hercules mark. Variants of the line include an entire subset of entries specifically developed for special forces use under the "MC-130" general designation; these include the MC-130E "Combat Talon" I, MC-130H "Combat Talon II", MC-130W "Combat Spear" / "Dragon Spear", MC-130P "Combat Shadow", and MC-130J "Commando II". A very-specialized model was used in the Iran Hostage Crisis operation "Credible Sport" as a YMC-130H.
In the MAC offering, an MC-130J "Commando II" model is showcased with twin floats added to the fuselage by way of support structure. Another alternative approach is a complete reworking of the lower fuselage to have a traditional "boat-like" form (as in a flying boat aircraft) for waterborne landings and take-offs. In either case, an amphibian quality is required so that the aircraft can land and take-off from both water sources as well as land-bases - the end-result is a platform capable of operating anywhere water sources allow, giving SOCOM operators considerable tactical flexibility for insertion/extraction. Considering the C-130s inherently good rough-field performance, the aircraft makes a good candidate for the conversion.
From time-to-time, Lockheed has been involved in amphibian / waterborne C-130 developments including a true flying boat offering in the 1960s intended for the United States Navy. This model retained much of the form-and-function of the C-130 with the exception of the hull redesign and floats added outboard of the outermost engine nacelles. The boat-like hull was to have a retractable, wheeled undercarriage for land-based actions. Another attempt by the company took place in the 1990s and involved a specially-modified C-130 with twin-floats intended for the United States Navy SEALs as a quick insertion/extraction solution. Neither proposal made it far.
The idea of an oversized floatplane / flying boat is not unheard of in today's military marketplace: both the Russians and Chinese, potential U.S. adversaries on any given day, have invested in the type. However, for the Americans, the investment in cost and development in bringing about a very-specialized variant of an aging line of aircraft may undo any potential benefit in pursuing such solutions as the MAC.
Beyond the MAC, other aviation-related items of note in the presentation were a high-speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) solution (tilt-rotor) as well as a "remote" gunship, also in the form of a C-130.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Special-Mission: MEDical EVACuation (MEDEVAC)
Extraction of wounded combat or civilian elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and available internal volume or external carrying capability.
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
Incorporates two or more engines, enhancing survivability and / or performance.
Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Ability to operate over ocean in addition to surviving the special rigors of the maritime environment.
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.
Design incorporates feature(s) that facilitates loading / unloading of cargo / personnel from the aircraft.
97.8 ft (29.80 m)
132.5 ft (40.40 m)
54.3 ft (16.55 m)
78,044 lb (35,400 kg)
166,449 lb (75,500 kg)
+88,405 lb (+40,100 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the MC-130J (MAC) production variant)
monoplane / high-mounted / straight
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted at the upper-most position allowable along the dorsal line of the fuselage.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertains to the MC-130J (MAC) production variant)
4 x Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engines developing 4,637 horsepower each driving six-bladed propeller units.
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