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    Started out at Pope 86-90, then on to Yokota from 90-94, McGuire 94-97, Osan 97-98, then to Kadena (18 WG) 98-04, Edwards 04-06 then to Robins (06-present) in the AF Corrosion Prgm Office
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  1. November 3, 2022 (by Capt. Alicia Premo) - Air Force Special Operations Command received its 31st and final AC-130J Ghostrider, completing the command's transition from the legacy AC-130W, AC-130U, and AC-130H fleets. http://s9.addthis.com/button0-rss.gif http://s9.addthis.com/button1-addthis.gif USAF AC-130J Ghostrider #19-5946 taxies on the flight line following the AC-130J Ghostrider dedication and delivery ceremony on November 2, 2022, at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, Fla. The ceremony marked the 31st and final AC-130J delivery to the U.S. Air Force. (USAF photo by TSgt. Michael Charles] Following a commemoration ceremony at the Lockheed Martin Gunship Modification Facility in Crestview on Nov. 2, the final AC-130J was delivered to the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. During the AC-130J Ghostrider dedication and delivery ceremony, Lt. Col. Joe Allen, Gunship Program manager and narrator for the event, briefly discussed the history of nose art and how it became a common way of depicting the name of an airplane. He also explained how pilots would stencil names or call signs on their aircraft, providing a sense of connection and further a feeling of pride for themselves and the crew that kept the airplane flying. "Aircraft #31 is no different [than previous World War II aircraft] and is being named in honor of Mr. Stan ‘Sluggo' Siefke who was instrumental in the developments of the precision strike package prior to cutting the first metal on the MC-130W," said Allen. "Sluggo's impacts on Whiskey and Ghostrider have been nothing short of outstanding and we are honored to have him in attendance today." Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, AFSOC commander, represented the command at the ceremony and spoke about his experience with acquiring and receiving the AC-130J. Slife recalled that it had been only a few years back when then Col. Slife, working at the Pentagon for the Office of Secretary of Defense, began the messaging and formative language that initiated the program that he's seeing come full circle. "In the fall of 2009, the secretary of defense decided to recapitalize [the AC-130] with C-130Js to build the platforms we see behind us today," Slife said. He also spoke about seeing the first J model go into combat in the summer of 2019 while serving as the AFSOC commander. "The airplane and its predecessors have exceeded all our expectations and kept more Americans alive than any other airplane on the battlefield," Slife said. "The future is going to be different than what we have experienced for the last 20 years, but one thing I'm certain of is this airplane will be relevant to whatever the future operating environment brings, so thank you all for delivering such a magnificent capability to today's warfighters," he said. Capt. Katie Tiedemann, 73rd Special Operations Squadron weapons systems officer, shared operational vignettes of the AC-130J during the event. She specifically shared her own experience deployed in Afghanistan when she supported Operation Allies Refuge. "Over two weeks, my own crew, and two others, continued to employ our aircraft for countless hours, reopening the [Kabul] airport and evacuating 123,000 refugees," Tiedemann said. "Much of the rest of the story you have seen and heard, but our two crews who flew during the evacuation will be recognized this fall with the MacKay trophy for accomplishing the most meritorious flight of the year." Following Capt. Tiedemann's presentation, William Innes, deputy director for acquisition, United States Special Operations Command, spoke about USSOCOM's part in navigating the acquisitions process to get the weapons systems from industry to the warfighter. "When we can see firsthand that it [the acquisition process] works, it delivers the best weapons system the nation can get, it is truly inspirational," he said. Vic Torla, Lockheed Martin vice president of Special Operations Forces Global Logistics Support Services, expressed his gratitude for the partnership between Lockheed Martin and the Air Force. "A great example of a government and industry partnership to stand up this facility," Torla said. "A ten-year journey to deliver what is now 30 combat capable aircraft to Special Operations Command." At the conclusion of the ceremony, Slife, along with the aircrew, stepped onto the new AC-130J and took off for Cannon AFB, where the final AC-130J will become part of the 27th Special Operations Wing. He concluded with his gratitude for all who contributed to making the AC-130J the success it is today. "For the whole team today, for the team that maintained the airplane, that built the airplane, that acquired the airplane, that fly the airplane, that tested the airplane, thank you for what you've done." The AC-130J is a transport aircraft modified for special forces operations and has been used to support AFSOC in missions around the world. It is a fifth-generation gunship that can provide close air support, air interdiction, and armed reconnaissance.
  2. Special Ops C-130 Tests Pallet-Dropped Cruise Missiles In The Arctic The Air Force’s Rapid Dragon palletized munitions system has made its first trip to Europe, including being loaded aboard a Polish C-130. byJoseph Trevithick| PUBLISHED Nov 9, 2022 4:32 PM A U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II special operations aircraft has launched an AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range cruise missile, or JASSM-ER, above the Arctic Circle in the first-ever demonstration in Europe of the Rapid Dragon air-launched palletized munitions concept. In addition, U.S. personnel trained together with their Polish counterparts on the system highlighting how it might be employed by other members of a U.S.-led coalition in a future conflict, as well as potential foreign interest in this capability. U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) led the demonstration earlier today as part of the latest iteration of a larger multi-national exercise series called ATREUS. An MC-130J from the 352nd Special Operations Wing carried out the actual employment of the Rapid Dragon system over the Andoya Space Range, which is situated north of the Arctic Circle in the Norwegian Sea off the coast of Norway. The 352nd, based at RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom, forms the core of SOCEUR's standing aerial capabilities and is the main Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) unit in Europe, as you can read about more in this past War Zone feature. An MC-130J Commando II from the 352nd Special Operations Wing releases a Rapid Dragon palletized munitions system during a demonstration off the coast of Norway. Oklahoma Air National Guard An MC-12W Liberty intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft from the Oklahoma Air National Guard participated in the demonstration, as well. Among other things, the MC-12W is equipped with a sensor turret containing electro-optical and infrared cameras that could have been useful for recording various aspects of the demonstration. The MC-12W Liberty from the Oklahoma Air National Guard's 137th Special Operations Wing that took part in the Rapid Dragon demonstration today on the ground at an unspecified airfield in Norway. Oklahoma Air National Guard The Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) office, which is in charge of the Rapid Dragon program, and other organizations supported the demonstration. The full list of participants includes U.S. Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) Detachment 1, the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Dahlgren Division (NSWC-Dahlgren), Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Fire Control division, Systima Technologies, ASR-Pioneer, and the Andoya Space Center, according to AFRL. In addition to SDPE and SOCEUR, participants supporting this event included U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Det 1, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Dahlgren; Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Systima Technologies, ASR-Pioneer, and Andøya Space Center. At the time of writing, there are limited specific details about what this particular demonstration entailed. A video the 352nd Special Operations Wing released, seen below, does show the release of the AGM-158B missile, presently the primary munition for use with the Rapid Dragon system, and the weapon then cruising along at a low altitude over the sea. The JASSM-ER is seen impacting the water at the end of its flight, but it's unclear whether an actual target of some kind was struck. The Rapid Dragon system consists primarily of multiple munitions contained inside modular frames, which are then loaded in a palletized fashion onto a cargo-carrying aircraft with a large rear ramp. It also includes a computerized targeting system that feeds information from off-board sources and into the missiles. The launch method involves releasing the palletized munitions via the aircraft's ramp just like any other type of air-dropped cargo, after which the system deploys a number of parachutes, stabilizes itself, and dispenses the munitions vertically. The system is designed to be able to accommodate various types of munitions, as well as be scalable and able to be quickly integrated with various types of airlifters. Earlier, SOCEUR had posted another video on Twitter ahead of today's demonstration that it said showed the MC-130J carrying the Rapid Dragon system taking off from an unspecified airfield. Another C-130-type aircraft is also seen in the clip takeoff and then trailing behind the Commando II. Plane spotters using online flight tracking software spotted at least one MC-130J, as well as the MC-12W Liberty, taking off from Norway's Andoya Airport, heading to the nearby Andoya Space Range, and then returning to the airport. "The Rapid Dragon Experimentation Program is appropriately named, as it advanced rapidly from a concept on paper to a live fire using a developmental prototype in 24 months," Dr. Dean Evans, the Rapid Dragon program manager, said in a statement. "Now less than three years from the program’s inception, Rapid Dragon is being used by SOCEUR in the Arctic Circle. This is a testament to the team’s focus on rapid fielding to meet warfighter needs." The first test of the Rapid Dragon system was conducted in January 2020 and a number of others have been carried out since then. These have involved various types of aircraft, including multiple C-130 variants and the C-17A Globemaster III, and different payloads, including AGM-158 series missiles and surrogates for them, as well as a novel design known as the Cargo Launch Expendable Air Vehicles with Extended Range, or CLEAVER. "Although the Rapid Dragon Experimentation Program has been focused on kinetic munitions, the program’s efforts are now expanding from Palletized Munitions to Palletized Effects, which include kinetic and non-kinetic munitions; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or ISR, platforms; cargo resupply; humanitarian aid delivery," according to a press release from AFRL regarding the test off Norway's coast. The core idea behind Rapid Dragon is to offer a potentially more cost-effective and scalable way to rapidly and significantly increase stand-off strike capacity, as required, without the need to acquire and deploy more combat aircraft, especially bombers. This could be particularly important in a future high-end conflict. At the same time, airlift assets are likely to be equally in high demand during any future major fight, which has raised questions about the potential availability in those scenarios of cargo planes to turn into impromptu missile trucks. You can read more about the underlying concept here. Today's demonstration off the coast of Norway does underscore the Air Force remains very interested in the potential benefits that Rapid Dragon has to offer and is continuing to explore the concept. This particular event also highlighted the growing strategic significance of the Arctic region, and the potential for conflict there, especially with Russia. As Arctic ice has receded, new economic opportunities, particularly expanded access to trade routes and natural resources, have emerged, as has increased geopolitical competition. The U.S. military, as a whole, has been actively working in recent years to better position itself to be able to conduct sustained major operations in the High North, including together with regional allies and partners like Norway. This all, of course, also comes against the backdrop of Russia's continuing war against Ukraine. This has already prompted the U.S. military and the rest of NATO, including Norway, to bolster its defensive posture along its eastern flank to help deter any potential spillover in Russian aggression. “This is not signaling to Russia or any adversary,” U.S. Army Cpt. Margaret Collins, a SOCEUR spokesperson, had told The Barents Observer about the planned Rapid Dragon demonstration last week. When it comes to allies and partners, Rapid Dragon's participation in the ATREUS exercise has notably extended beyond today's demonstration, too. Yesterday, U.S. personnel trained on the system with their Polish counterparts at Powidz Air Base. This included actually loading a Rapid Dragon pallet with what appeared to be AGM-158 surrogates onto one of the Polis Air Force's C-130H Hercules airlifters. Whether or not the Polish military has an active interest in acquiring the Rapid Dragon system itself, this training does highlight how American forces could potentially utilize allied or partner airlifters to employ it during a future contingency. The Polish Air Force is already an operator of AGM-158 series missiles, with the F-16C Viper fighter jet being its current launch platform for those weapons. "This effort [ATREUS] is meant to increase integration of both conventional and Special Operations Forces from participating nations and enhance interoperability with our NATO allies and European partners," Air Force Lt. Col. Lawrence Melnicoff, ATREUS exercise lead, said in a statement. "Routine engagements like those conducted throughout ATREUS training events enable effective responses for any contingency, as well as continuation of training, and increased readiness and collective defense." All told, the Rapid Dragon demonstration off the coast of Norway is yet another step forward for this system and its underlying concepts of operations. At the same time, this particular event also highlights new security dynamics in Europe and the Artic and how American forces could work with allies to respond to future crises in those regions. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/special-ops-c-130-tests-pallet-dropped-cruise-missiles-in-the-arctic
  3. You might be better off reaching out to a few of the MROs that perform that work to see about a travel field team to come do it for you vs. train you. Problem with training is the proficiency aspect...if you don't have many to do, your people will never become proficient. Cheaper and faster in the long run to pay someone to come to you and do it. Marshall Aerospace Group in England, L3Harris in Crestview FL, Lockheed etc.
  4. Anyone know the approximate timeline the USAF transitioned to the two blade antennas mounted on the vertical at the approximate same VOR antenna location? I think the mid to late 1990s but not sure. Thanks Scott
  5. Air Force grounds most C-130Hs due to cracked propeller barrels 64 Stephen Losey Fri, September 30, 2022 at 5:33 PM·2 min read WASHINGTON — The Air Force has grounded most of its older C-130H Hercules cargo planes and variants due to a problem with their propeller barrels. Air Mobility Command on Friday confirmed a wide swath of its C-130H fleet, which numbered 128 at the beginning of fiscal 2022, is unable to fly, and it’s unclear how long it will take to replace all the defective propeller assemblies. AMC said 116 C-130Hs, including variants of the mobility aircraft, were grounded on Tuesday due to concerns their propeller assemblies are defective, and that inspections over the coming days will show how many of those are affected. AMC said the groundings are “widespread” and primarily affect the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. The unofficial Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco posted a screenshot of a time compliance technical order on the groundings Wednesday. On Friday, the page posted a screenshot of a slide that said the propeller barrels in question had been installed in 100 C-130Hs, as well as the entire inventories of eight MC-130H Combat Talons, seven EC-130H Compass Calls, and one TC-130H. In a statement to Defense News, Air Mobility Command said a maintenance crew at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Georgia found a persistent leak coming from a C-130H propeller while test running the plane’s engine after it had undergone depot maintenance. That propeller assembly was removed and sent to the complex’s propeller shop, AMC said, where a technician found a crack in its barrel assembly. Further inspections found two more propeller assemblies had the same problem, Air Mobility Command added. AMC ordered immediate field level visual inspections on all C-130Hs with the older 54H60 model propeller, and then conducted metallurgical reviews and stress analyses, the command said. After those reviews, Air Mobility Command issued another order to immediately replace problematic propellers. The command said newer C-130Js and C-130Hs that have already had their propeller assemblies upgraded with the eight-bladed NP2000 system are not affected by the order. This is the second time in more than three years that significant numbers of C-130Hs were grounded due to propeller problems. In February 2019, the Air Force grounded 60 C-130Hs — at the time, nearly one-third of the fleet — for several weeks due to concerns their pre-1971 propeller blades could crack. Those C-130s had their propeller blades replaced over subsequent weeks.
  6. How Air Force maintainers achieved a rare perfect inspection on a 49-year-old aircraft “This rarely happens, especially on an aircraft nearly a half-century old.” By David Roza | Published Sep 28, 2022 10:38 AM Airmen assigned to the 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron celebrate their achievements in getting an EC-130H Compass Call to zero discrepancies at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 17, 2022. (Staff Sgt. Kristine Legate/U.S. Air Force). Johnnie Walker has its Black Label whiskey; American Express has its Black Card; and Metallica and Jay-Z each have their own Black Albums. But when it comes to maintaining aircraft in the U.S. Air Force, few things are more rare or distinguished than a black letter status aircraft, meaning an aircraft that has zero maintenance issues. Thanks to the hard work of its maintenance airmen, an Air Force EC-130H electronic warfare aircraft named “Caesar” just received black-letter status following an inspection at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. In a branch where even the youngest fighter jets rarely achieve such status, the black letter EC-130H is a remarkable accomplishment. Caesar is a seasoned 49 years old: the turboprop plane was first delivered to the Air Force in 1973, the same year the U.S. military withdrew from Vietnam. “This rarely happens, especially on an aircraft nearly a half-century old,” Col. Melanie Olson, commander of the 55th Electronic Group, which flies Caesar, said in a recent press release. “I couldn’t be prouder of our maintainers who come to work every day with a can-do mindset. Their dedication and determination in keeping our aircraft in top shape are remarkable.” U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Tan Pham, 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron acting lead production superintendent, performs a preflight check on an EC-130H Compass Call at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 17, 2022. (Staff Sgt. Kristine Legate/U.S. Air Force) The term “black letter” comes from the paperwork that maintenance inspectors fill out while reviewing an aircraft. If the inspector finds “discrepancies,” the term for a maintenance issue in need of fixing, then it gets flagged on the inspection form with red ink. But if there are no such discrepancies, then there is no red ink. Instead, the form is marked with only the first initial of the inspector’s last name and the signature of the production superintendent, both written in black ink. It may be a surprise for readers to hear how often maintenance issues are detected on military aircraft. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life with these complicated machines that not everything will necessarily work on a given day. Indeed, the Air Force’s youngest fighter jet, the F-35A, took a hit from 76.07% to 68.8% mission-capable rate from 2020 to 2021, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine. Keep in mind that “mission capable” means the aircraft is in good enough shape to fly at least one of its missions, while “full mission capable” means the aircraft can fly all of its missions. Meanwhile, the C-130H and its younger cousin, the C-130J, held mission-capable rates of 65.51% and 77.02% in 2019, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine. Keeping an airplane ready to fly is difficult, especially if the airplane is so old that there are few spare parts left to repair it with, as is the case with the A-10 Warthog. Supply issues like that mean some repairs or inspections have to be deferred for years, explained a retired C-130J designated crew chief. “Back-ordered parts, deferred modifications, and deferred time compliance tech orders are what kept me from ever black lettering a C-130J that was delivered in 2012,” said the crew chief, who preferred to stay anonymous. The crew chief said a black letter aircraft is a “super rare” thing. Indeed, one chief master sergeant at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas said in 2015 that he had seen only two black-letter aircraft in his 30-year career. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base credited one airman with being the main reason why the aging Caesar hit the mark. Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Faaborg, a hydraulics craftsman with the 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, seems to have made it his personal mission to get Caesar as ready as ever. “He’s worked really hard and has even come in on his off time and on the weekends to fix discrepancies,” Tech. Sgt. Korey Brown, noncommissioned officer in charge and dedicated crew chief manager at the squadron, said in the press release. U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Faaborg, 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hydraulics craftsman and the dedicated crew chief for Cesar, an EC-130H Compass Call assigned to the 55th Electronic Combat Group, and Senior Airman Dakota Harmon, 755th AMXS maintainer and assistant dedicated crew chief, celebrate their achievements in getting the aircraft to zero discrepancies at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 17, 2022. (Staff Sgt. Kristine Legate/U.S. Air Force) It takes a village to maintain an aircraft. Beyond hydraulics craftsmen like Faaborg, there are also airmen who specialize in repairing engines; electrical and environmental systems; fuel systems and more. But instead of sticking with hydraulics, Faaborg took it upon himself to learn from and help out the crew chiefs who conduct the entire maintenance orchestra for the aircraft they are assigned to, Brown explained. “It’s nice to see people like Staff Sgt. Faaborg take pride in their work,” he said. Master Sgt. Tan Pham, the production superintendent for the 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, also noted Faaborg’s initiative. “Many crew chiefs work their whole career to try and achieve a black-letter initial aircraft,” he said. “Doing this as a maintainer who doesn’t even hold a crew chief [Air Force Specialty Code] speaks volumes about Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Faaborg’s work ethic, determination and leadership.” Pham explained that achieving black letters also “takes persistent coordination with all seven specialties within our squadron and the support from our teammates at our host wing’s maintenance group.” Pham gave a shout-out to Senior Airman Dakota Harmon, an assistant dedicated crew chief, and Caesar’s prior dedicated crew chiefs, including Senior Airman Riley Smith, for building Caesar’s momentum towards black letter status “over two years ago,” he said. Faaborg, who was recently appointed as a dedicated crew chief in recognition for his work on Caesar, explained why black letter status is a rare thing. “We accomplished something that no one here has ever really seen, and it was hard because every little thing on the plane can be a write-up,” he said in the press release. “Having no discrepancies is pretty tough, especially when working with aged aircraft.” A U.S. Air Force EC-130H Compass Call from the 55th Wing prepares for in-flight refueling from a 155th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker during exercise Emerald Flag over the Gulf of Mexico, Dec. 3, 2020. (Staff Sgt. Joshua Hoskins/U.S. Air Force) The black letter status is just the latest in a long line of accomplishments for the 55th Electronic Group, whose EC-130Hs have saved the lives of U.S. and friendly troops for decades. One of its units, the 41st Electronic Combat Squadron, was deployed to Afghanistan for 20 years, according to Air Force Times. The squadron tracked radio signals to help special operators find people invisible to drones or other aircraft; jammed or eavesdropped on enemy communications; and even disabled remote-controlled improvised explosive devices. In Iraq in 2003, a Compass Call exploded an IED in front of then-Maj. Gen. Jim Mattis, later Secretary of Defense, who said “Compass Call saved my life,” according to an Air Force briefing slide. The Compass Call also flew over the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, where they “were directly involved in saving lives on the ground and in the C-17 [cargo jets],” Compass Call pilot Capt. Taylor Drolshagen told Air Force Times. “Many Americans are alive today who wouldn’t be if we weren’t there.” The Compass Call mission has big changes coming down the pipe. The Air Force wants to replace the aging fleet of 14 EC-130Hs with the EC-37B, a modified business jet that can do its predecessor’s job way faster and over much larger areas, one Air Force officer told The War Zone. Still, the EC-37B has big shoes to fill, especially after Caesar, which received a distinction that few other aircraft can claim thanks to the hard work of its airmen. “From one retired [dedicated crew chief], all I gotta say is ‘way to step and own your bird!’” said the anonymous retired crew chief. “‘Good job on executing your job and leading a team of hardworking and dedicated maintainers!’”
  7. C-130 Seaplane Should Fly In 2023 Says Air Force Special Ops Commander Faced with a potential fight against China across vast swaths of ocean, the amphibious C-130 could soon finally become a reality. byHoward Altman| PUBLISHED Sep 21, 2022 4:32 PM Howard AltmanView howard altman's Articles An amphibious version of the special operations MC-130J Commando II multi-mission combat transport should take flight by next year, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) said Tuesday. "We're awaiting the outcome of the 23 [Fiscal Year 2023] budget process that continues to work its way through the Hill right now," Lt. Gen. James Slife told reporters at the Air and Space Forces Association (AFA) Air, Space, & Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. "But our anticipation is that we will have a flying demonstration in the next calendar year." That's a change from what Slife said last year. “I can say with certainty that our plan is to conduct a demo by the 31st of December next year,” Slife said last September in a roundtable with media, according to Defense News. Slife emphasized that a flying demo would most likely feature a single aircraft and would be aimed at validating digitally engineered models that the program has run so far on the aircraft’s capabilities. We reached out to AFSOC to explain what changed and will update this story with any additional information. Regardless, this unique capability is still being pursued with the aim of moving to the flight testing phase, and as some would say its justification becomes clearer with each passing month. In an age of increasing concern over threats from China, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been looking for ways to move people and equipment to austere locations in or at the edge of potentially contested areas. Being able to take off and land on the water offers a lot of advantages. The MC-130’s ability to use short, often rugged airstrips has made it an attractive platform to consider for such capabilities. A potential conflict with China would likely have distributed U.S. forces operating in far-flung locations that could be hard to reach with conventional air and sea lift. Marine Corps Commandant David Berger's Force Design 2030 concept is based on prepositioning troops in range of Chinese weaponry. On Monday, Air Force Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach talked about having supplies prepositioned across the region in anticipation of Chinese efforts to cut off supply lines. Being able to take off and land on water has the potential to address those issues and concerns. Decades of evolutionary development have gone into the MC-130J along with large sums of money to integrate unique navigation, communications, and survivability enhancements onto the airframe. So, while there is clearly a tradeoff using a C-130 on floats over a flying boat, for instance, it would be very expensive and time-consuming to fit such an aircraft out with the MC-130's existing capabilities, which center on getting in and out of hostile territory alive. You can read more about the concept and its pitfalls and advantages in our previous coverage here. "We've kind of done all the modeling and simulation, and we settled on a general design layout for the way we're going to do that," said Slife of the aircraft design, which has been dubbed the MC-130J Commando II Amphibious Capability, or MAC. "We're going through wave tank modeling to make sure that the design that we selected is stable and looks like it's going to be operationally viable for us." AFSOC is working with the Air Force Research Lab's (AFRL) Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) directorate to develop the MAC “to improve the platform's support of seaborne special operations,” AFSOC said in a September 2021 media release. One C-130 amphibian configuration. (AFSOC) "The development of the MAC capability is the culmination of multiple lines of effort," Lt. Col. Josh Trantham, AFSOC Science, Systems, Technology, & Innovation (SST&I) Deputy Division Chief said at the time. "This capability allows the Air Force to increase placement and access for infiltration, exfiltration, and personnel recovery, as well as providing enhanced logistical capabilities for future competition and conflict." But AFSOC would not be the only beneficiary of this capability, Trantham said. "We believe MAC will be able to be used by our sister services, allies, and partners on various C-130 platforms," he said. "Further, expanding the operational use of an amphibious aircraft alongside other innovative tools will provide even more complex dilemmas in future battlespaces for our strategic competitors." In addition to wave tank testing, AFSOC and its private sector partners have been testing MAC prototypes through “digital design, virtual reality modeling (VR), and computer-aided designs (CAD) in a virtual setting known as the Digital Proving Ground (DPG), paving the way for digital simulation, testing, and the use of advanced manufacturing for rapid prototyping and physical prototype testing,” according to AFSOC. Slife on Tuesday said the modeling and simulation “has all gone real well.” “That's the beauty of digital design and doing all this with a digital model of the C 130," he continued. "The wave tank testing that we've done so far indicates that the design that we picked is performing just the way we kind of anticipated that it would.” The Air Force is making “an amphibious modification" to the C-130, Slife had said earlier this month said at AFA’s Warfighters in Action, according to Signal Magazine. “It is not a floatplane. It will have the ability to land on both land and water.” “We ran through a series of testing to figure out, ‘Do we want to do a catamaran or a pontoon or a hull applique on the bottom of the aircraft?’ “ he said at the time. “We went through all the iterations of that. And we settled on a design that provides the best trade-off of drag, weight, and sea-state performance.” The C-130 on floats idea has been around for many years, as seen in this Lockheed Martin rendering. Lockheed Martin Though looking forward to what the MAC would bring to seaborne special operations, Slife was realistic about what it can and cannot do. It would not, for instance, be instantly adaptable, he said on Tuesday. “The amphibious capability is field installable, but it's not like a put-it-on take-it-off for a particular sortie,” said Slife. “It's going to take a little bit of time. It doesn't have to go to a depot to be installed. Unit-level maintenance will be able to install this capability.” Despite the MAC’s limitations and Slife's interest in amphibious aircraft, he said AFSOC will not seek a new aircraft procurement program — one that goes beyond a kit for a C-130 — any time soon. “In a world of unlimited resourcing, I would absolutely be invested in an amphibious capability,” said Slife. “But that's not actually the world that we live in. There are some great amphibians out there. But, you know, we're not, anytime in the foreseeable future, going to be involved in a new aircraft procurement program to get into that. We may find ourselves in a position where we could lease airplanes, you know, for purpose, from time to time." Earlier this year, airmen got to check out the Japanese ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft during the latest iteration of the Cope North exercise, which took place earlier this year in the Asia-Pacific region. Last November, an AFSOC delegation visited Iwakuni Air Base in Japan to learn more about the amphibian and its concept of operations. At that time, JMSDF personnel briefed Maj. Gen. Eric Hill, AFSOC deputy commander, and 353rd Special Operations Wing leadership, in an exchange that was described as “further enforcing the iron-clad partnership between the United States and Japan.” We covered that extensively, which you can read about here. The exposure to one of the few amphibians in military service today came as the service was looking increasingly at the amphibious C-130 Hercules configuration. In contrast to Slife's reluctance to pursue a new, purpose-designed amphibious plane, China has already developed one. The AG600 flying boat, known as the Kunlong, made its maiden flight in 2017. The roughly 737-sized aircraft flew for a short period of time from Zhuhai airport in Guangdong province. An updated version made its maiden voyage earlier this year, OverDefense.com reported. The AG600 was designed to provide a unique capability when it comes to supporting China's extra-territorial claims located hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland. Most notably the aircraft will be used to support the country's highly disputed and ever-growing man-made island outposts in the South China Sea. China's latest five-year plan, covering 2021 to 2025, identified the AG600 as a "key program, because of the country's urgent need for an emergency rescue aircraft, and especially the strategic requirement for equipment that can serve its far-reaching bases in the South China Sea, Business Insider reported. But as usual, the other military implications of having such a capability were omitted from China's justification. As the U.S. military's focus increases on austere and distributed operations, the amphibious C-130 will likely become more of a priority. But regardless, if things go as planned, we should finally see a C-130 floatplane within a year. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/c-130-seaplane-should-fly-in-2023-says-air-force-specops-commander?utm_campaign=trueanthem_AI&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_term=thedrive&fbclid=IwAR3_1YxL3X66m3wlAgflN1sQiLED836i0k8xEhGPU6Gddl7olNbJ5nCFFl0&mibextid=4td405
  8. Farewell to the EC-130J Commando Solo III, the plane of the USAF for psychological operations9·19·2022 · 6:53 0 Last Saturday, September 17, one of the most unknown specialized military aircraft of all those in the US made its last flight. That day, the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the United States Air Force (USAF), a unit attached to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, made its last broadcast flight with its Lockheed EC-130J Commando Solo III, a plane specialized in psychological operations (PsyOps), that is, it is dedicated to broadcasting messages whose purpose is to persuade the enemy. An EC-130J Commando Solo III photographed from a KC-135T air tanker in October 2020. This aircraft is easy to recognize by the emissions antennas on its drift and under the wings, and by the large tanks it carries near the edge of the wings, probably with electronic equipment (Photo: USAF). The aforementioned unit of the USAF was created in 1967, the same year as the creation of the 4th Psychological Operations Group (4th POG) of the US Army Special Forces. Both units have been historically linked despite belonging to different branches of the US Armed Forces. Basically, the 4th POG elaborated the messages issued by the planes of the 193rd Wing, initially equipped with five Lockheed EC-121S Coronet Solo, a psychological warfare version of the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation. Two of these aircraft were deployed to Thailand in 1970, to broadcast in Cambodia. Operators of the emission systems of an EC-130J Commando Solo III during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in the Middle East, in September 2017 (Photo: USAF). In March 1979, the 193rd Wing received its first Lockheed EC-130E Volant Solo, a version of the famous C-130 Hercules specially modified to carry out psychological warfare missions. Its first deployment in combat was in 1983 on the island of Grenada, during Operation Urgent Fury, directing broadcasts to the civilian population of the island with information about that operation. The unit was redeployed to Panama in 1989, during Operation Just Cause, and to Saudi Arabia in 1990, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Volant Solos (renamed Command Solos in 1990) not only had the ability to carry out television and radio broadcasts to spread messages, but they could also gather intelligence and jam enemy broadcasts. . One of the systems operators of an EC-130J Commando Solo III during a mission in the Middle East in 2017. These aircraft usually carry out their missions at night to make it difficult to detect them in hostile territories (Photo: USAF). In 1992, the 193rd Wing’s EC-130E Commando Solos were upgraded to the Commando Solo II version. Two years later, in 1994, the unit was deployed to Haiti in Operation Uphold Democracy, contributing with its messages to the fall of the military dictatorship established through a coup in 1991 and facilitating the transition to democracy in the country. The unit was deployed in 1997 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in support of the United stabilization mission in the former Yugoslavia, and in 1998 in Iraq, to persuade the regime of Saddam Hussein to comply with UN resolutions. In 2001, Commando Solo IIs were deployed to Afghanistan at the start of the War on Terror, during which they also redeployed again to Iraq in 2003. A photo that allows you to observe the antennas of an EC-130J Commando Solo III in its drift and in the tail (Photo: USAF). In 2004 the EC-130Es were replaced by EC-130J Commando Solo III, the psychological warfare version of the C-130J Super Hercules. Significantly, despite their 18 years of service (not a long time compared to other aircraft), the withdrawal of the EC-130J comes a year after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and without Let there be a substitute in sight. Everything seems to indicate that these airborne psychological operations are coming to an end, perhaps because they prefer to opt for other solutions such as satellite broadcasts and the Internet. Currently, the 193rd Wing had three EC-130Js in service. The fate of these aircraft has not been reported. You can see here the final flight of the EC-130J. The video shows some of the emission systems inside the plane, which used to fly with a crew of between six and ten people: https://youtu.be/ukP8QkSNgyQ
  9. Last USAF H model was 5434, 96-7325 and still flying. As mentioned above, 5435 is JASDAF and LMCO #5436 was not used.
  10. LOUISVILLE, KY, UNITED STATES 09.11.2022 Story by Dale Greer 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Subscribe 13 The 123rd Airlift Wing welcomed its eighth C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here Aug. 25, completing the unit’s transition from legacy C-130H transports. The wing had been flying H models since 1992. It said farewell to the last of those on Sept. 24, 2021, and began receiving new J models from Lockheed-Martin Corp. on Nov. 6. The C-130J Super Hercules is the latest version in the Air Force arsenal, with modern instrumentation, more efficient engines and a stretched fuselage for additional payload capacity. It is among the most versatile aircraft ever built, supporting a broad range of missions from special operations to air cargo with capabilities that allow it to land on austere runways where other airlifters can’t go. The wing’s commander, Col. Bruce Bancroft, said that extra payload capacity is significant. “The C-130J has often been referred to as the stretch model,” Bancroft noted. “This means there are two additional pallet positions for equipment on top of the six pallet positions that are normally associated with what we refer to as legacy C-130s. So what's the big deal about two more pallet positions? Well, that's thousands of pounds of additional combat resupply equipment for our warfighter on every single sortie. “That's thousands of pounds of additional food, water, shelter, blankets and relief equipment on every single sortie for our citizens who have been displaced from their homes due to hurricanes, floods, wildfires and earthquakes — citizens whose worlds have been turned upside down; are cold, tired and hungry, and can't afford to wait. The C-130J delivers the capability to meet that immediate need, be it across the Commonwealth, across the nation or across the ocean. “With a total payload of over 44,000 pounds, six-bladed composite propellers, a maximum speed of 410 miles an hour, and a capacity for 97 litters of medical evacuees, 128 combat troops or 92 paratroopers, the C-130J truly defines superiority in tactical airlift. A digital avionics cockpit, liquid crystal displays, heads-up displays and state-of-the-art navigational equipment will directly impact the effectiveness, efficiency, situational awareness and safety of our aircrews, all resulting in an increased ability to answer our nation's call day or night, any place, any time.” All eight of the wing’s former H-model aircraft were transferred to the 166th Airlift Wing at the Delaware Air National Guard.
  11. Our First Look At An AC-130J Ghostrider Gunship’s New 105mm Gun The Air Force’s AC-130J Ghostrider gunships have begun receiving replacements for their Vietnam War-era 105mm howitzers. byJoseph Trevithick, Oliver ParkenAug 31, 2022 6:49 PM An AC-130J Ghostrider gunship assigned to the 17th Special Operation Squadron fitted with a new 105mm howitzer, with insets showing a close-up of the howitzer and prototype of the design. USAF/ USN Photos from a recent event at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, provide our first look at a U.S. Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider gunship equipped with an upgraded 105mm howitzer. This follows an announcement from the U.S. Navy earlier this year that it had delivered at least one prototype of a gun that is intended to replace the existing, aging M102 howitzers that have been used on various AC-130 gunship variants for decades now. The new howitzer was seen installed on an Air Force AC-130J belonging to the 17th Special Operations Squadron during an "honorary commander flight event" for prominent members of the community from the nearby city of Clovis, New Mexico, held on August 24, 2022. Pictures from the ground tour and flight demonstration show these 'honorary commanders' standing next to the rear rear-left side of the aircraft’s fuselage, as well as inside, with the new gun clearly visible. City of Clovis 'honorary commanders' receive a tour and safety brief on a U.S. Air Force 17th Special Operations Squadron AC-130J Ghostrider gunship during an honorary commander flight event on Aug. 24, 2022, at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. The new 105mm howitzer is seen sticking out of the rear left side of the fuselage. USAF It remains unclear how much, if anything, the Navy's 105mm howitzer shares with the original M102. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division previously described the weapon as being "upgraded," rather than entirely new. The replacement design has also been referred to generically as a Gun Aircraft Unit (GAU), but its full designation is unknown. A picture of an older M102, readily identifiable by the triangular section behind the flash hider, installed on an AC-130J gunship. USAF A picture of one of the prototypes of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division's 105mm "GAU." USN The recent pictures AC-130J with the gun installed at Cannon make clear that the new design at least features a distinctly different recoil mechanism, which includes two cylinders side-by-side on top instead of a single one. An 'honorary commander' and an AC-130J gunner with the 17th Special Operations Squadron firing the aircraft's 105mm gun. The side-by-side recoil cylinders on top of the new 105mm howitzer are visible at the bottom left of this picture. USAF A picture of an M102 howitzer inside an AC-130U gunship, showing the single recoil cylinder on top. USAF In addition, the pictures of the prototype that the Navy released in January showed a threaded section on the front of the barrel that we now know is designed to accept a new style of flash hider. A close-up image of the AC-130J's howitzer. A flash hider has been attached to the end of the barrel. USAF Engineers from the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division stand in front of a prototype of the new 105mm howitzer with an exposed threaded section at the muzzle end of the barrel. USN "The previous iteration of the AC-130’s 105mm gun system comprised the M102 howitzer and M137A1 recoil mechanism, which are no longer supported by the Army, meaning that an upgrade was necessary due to obsolescence and advancements in technologies since the original recoil mechanism was designed," according to a release from Naval Sea Systems Command in January. "The upgrades to the 105mm GAU are sweeping, however, the engineers at Dahlgren were careful to ensure that the functionality, accuracy, and usability of the weapon remain largely the same." "We’ve described [the development process] as peeling back an onion," Matthew Buckler, an engineer at Dahlgren who helped develop the gun, had said in a statement included in the January release. "You get the most immediate issue and solve that one. Then when you solve that one, something else becomes more important and you kind of just keep peeling it back until you’ve essentially solved all of your major issues and you can live with whatever the maintenance interval may be." The Air Force had originally planned to forgo installing the M102, which first entered service as a towed howitzer with Army artillery units in 1964, on the AC-130J, as well as the preceding AC-130W Stinger II. The howitzer had been fitted to every new AC-130 variant before that, starting with a subvariant of the AC-130E, known as the Pave Aegis configuration, during the Vietnam War. However, by 2004, Air Force gunships were the only platforms anywhere in the U.S. military still employing the M102 in any form, and the weapons had become increasingly difficult to sustain. A Vietnam War-era picture showing an M102 howitzer removed from an AC-130E Pave Aegis gunship. So, the plan had been for the AC-130Js and Ws to be primarily armed with a variety of precision-guided munitions, along with a single GAU-23/A 30mm Bushmaster II automatic cannon. However, an 105mm howitzers offers distinct capabilities compared to guided missiles and bombs, as well as and smaller caliber guns, that are valuable in various situations against a variety of target sets. For instance, the howitzer can bring a significant amount of firepower to bear on relatively small targets, whether they be bunkers or other obstacles, armored vehicles, or enemy forces in the open, and then readily shift its focus to new ones. The gun offers added flexibility by being able to fire different types of ammunition, including air-bursting rounds, from one shot to the next. One of the 'honorary commanders' prepares to load a 105mm practice round into the howitzer onboard the AC-130J during the community engagement event at Cannon on August 24. U.S. Air Force photo. The Air Force subsequently changed course and decided to integrate the M102 onto the AC-130J and AC-130W. The new Navy-developed design will help ensure that the Air Force's gunships can continue to offer this kind of support for the foreseeable future. The integration of this gun onto the AC-130J is perhaps doubly important given that the Ghostiders are moving ever closer to being the only gunships in service. The Air Force retired the AC-130U Spooky II in 2020 and it plans to have sent all of the AC-130Ws to the Bone Yard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona by the end of next year. It is not immediately clear how many AC-130Js the Air Force has at present, but the service said in 2021 that expected to eventually acquire a fleet of 37 Ghostriders in total. The 17th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon received its first example last July. It is similarly unclear how many of the AC-130Js that are in service now have the new 105mm howitzer. What appears to be a different AC-130J from the 17th Special Operation Squadron with the Navy-developed gun installed traveled to Hawaii earlier this month. This aircraft has a large version of the unit's insignia painted just behind the cockpit on the left side of the fuselage, which does not look to be present on the Ghostrider that was made available for the honorary commander flight event. An AC-130J Ghostrider gunship with the new 105mm howitzer from the 17th Special Operations Squadron at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, on August 17, 2022. USAF It's worth noting that the replacement howitzers are not the only new weapons that the AC-130Js are currently slated to receive. The Air Force took delivery of the first prototype of a solid-state laser directed energy weapon for the Ghostrider last year. U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) said in May that the laser was still being tested on the ground. Actual flight testing is expected to begin next year. You can read more about the capabilities that this weapon could offer Ghostrider crews here. In the meantime, the Air Force's Ghostriders are already at least beginning to add new 105mm howitzers to their arsenals. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/our-first-look-at-an-ac-130j-ghostrider-gunships-new-105mm-gun
  12. 193rd Special Operations Wing preps for mission conversion MIDDLETOWN, PA, UNITED STATES 07.22.2022 MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- The 193rd Special Operations Wing is undergoing a substantial transformation of its primary mission. The wing is transitioning from its legacy EC-130J Commando Solo aircraft to the MC-130J Commando II. To prepare for this historic shift, the wing hosted a National Guard Bureau-led Site Activation Task Force here July 12-14. “We are at a strategic point in our wing’s history that will allow our Airmen to add to the legacy and be owners of this new and exciting mission,” said Lt. Col. Benton Jackson, 193rd Special Operations Wing Unit Conversion Officer. The SATAF encompassed a wide array of subject matter experts from Air Force Special Operations Command and NGB along with local experts. The intent was to examine the transformation from multiple perspectives, and ensure personnel and infrastructure are prepared in advance for the new mission set. “Change management is very important, and we have 193rd Airmen’s interests at heart,” said Timothy Pyeatt, Senior Strategic Basing Program Analyst and AFSOC SATAF lead. “I was very impressed by the wing’s energy and willingness to embrace this new mission. I feel they’re ready and will thrive moving forward.” Air Force and AFSOC leaders are calling for accelerated change across the service to ensure preparedness for a future high-end fight. The wing’s conversion to the MC-130J enables it to provide multiple capabilities in support of both peacetime and contingency operations locally and worldwide. “We’re evolving beyond the niche capability our current aircraft provide and taking on a core, flagship special operations function with the arrival of the Commando IIs,” said Col. Eric McKissick, 193rd SOW vice commander. “It will ensure our world-class Airmen are able to provide relevant support to our fellow Pennsylvanians and our nation for years to come.” The MC-130J Commando II flies clandestine, or low visibility, single or multiship, low-level infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces, by airdrop or airland and air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories. Its secondary mission includes the airdrop of leaflets.
  13. Maintenance University sharpens skills with joint training in Puerto Rico Published July 18, 2021 By Staff Sgt. Clayton Wear 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs CAROLINA, Puerto Rico -- More than 130 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard completed a week of intensive aircraft maintenance training here June 12-18, honing proficiencies in a joint field environment while avoiding the distractions of home station. The annual event, called Maintenance University, featured classes on everything from changing the tires on C-130H Hercules aircraft to repairing sophisticated autopilot equipment, said Lt. Col. James Embry, commander of the Louisville, Kentucky-based 123rd Maintenance Squadron. The training allowed citizen-Airmen from Kentucky’s 123rd Airlift Wing to enhance their C-130 maintenance skills prior to the unit’s upcoming transition to the C-130J, while also giving them the opportunity to train alongside maintainers from the Puerto Rico Air Guard’s new Contingency Response Group. “The Puerto Rico Air Guard has provided a great location with a ramp that fits our requirements for training, classrooms, facilities, a fire response capability and security forces,” Embry said. “It’s a perfect environment for us to not only get our maintainers up to career field standards, but we can also expand upon our training into the Contingency Response environment as well.” This year’s MXU curriculum was designed by shop chiefs to meet individual training needs while eliminating the competing obligations of a typical drill weekend back home. “For those of us who are traditional Guardsmen, this is a really good opportunity for us to spend a week and focus solely on this training,” said Airman 1st Class Audrey Parios, a C-130 crew chief. “This is a great chance to have everyone in the same place to meet, network, and learn from each other away from the distractions at home.” Airmen from the Puerto Rico Air Guard’s 156th Wing also appreciated the opportunity to train with maintainers from the Kentucky wing, which also is home to a Contingency Response Group. As the 156th works to stand up a full Contingency Response Group in the coming years, the 123rd was also able to supply C-130s and CRG-qualified maintainers to train Puerto Rico maintainers on night-vision marshaling. “It’s fortunate for us that the 123rd has a CRG with C-130 maintainers,” noted Col. Joelee Sessions, commander of the 156th Contingency Response Group. “When this crew comes here, they are bringing expertise from the CR world to help us train our folks. “One of my goals is to get our maintainers and crew chiefs’ hands back onto aircraft so that they are fully familiarized, so that when we go on the road as a CRG, they are comfortable handling the aircraft that come in and accomplishing the mission.”
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