Transport Service

Behold The MC-130J Spec Ops Transport

With Its Badly Needed Terrain Following Radar Installed

Lockheed Martin has launched a video showing one of the first MC-130J Commando II unique operations transports equipped with the Raytheon AN/APQ-187 Silent Knight terrain-following/terrain avoidance radar. The U.S. Air Force plans to upgrade the entire Commando II fleet to this new configuration in the coming years, giving the planes a nap-of-the-earth flight functionality that is important for appearing their special operations missions, but which they have got lacked on the grounds that their creation nearly a decade ago.

By the stop of 2018, the Air Force had as a minimum MC-130Js geared up with the Silent Knight Radar, or SKR, in line with Pentagon price range files. In its most recent finances request for the 2020 Fiscal Year, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), that’s in charge of shopping SKRs for Air Force Special Operations Command, asked for almost $9 million for the purchase of radars, related equipment, and aid offerings. AFSOC expects to in the end receive greater than 70 Commando IIs, all of which might be set to receive the brand new radar.
“The software will not simply combine that new radar, however, will even evolve the [MC-130J’s] virtual cockpit to automate important functions,” Paul Keith, Lockheed Martin’s Program Manager for the MC-130J Common Terrain Following/Terrain Avoidance Radar (MCTF) application, said in the new video. “This will allow a smaller AFSOC crew to do as a whole lot or even more than present-day crews can do.”

SKR is an outstanding multi-feature radar in it’s own proper, with terrain-following/terrain avoidance, climate, and ground mapping modes. It works over any terrain, together with sand, ice, and snow, in addition to in maritime environments. SOCOM’s necessities called for it to paintings at altitudes from a hundred to at least one,000 ft in degree or turning flight and at speeds from five to 300 knots, or between 6 and 345 miles consistent with hour.

The radar operates on K-band and has the low opportunity of intercept (LPI) and low possibility of detection (LPD) capabilities. This is critical attention for special operations missions that often contain penetrating into denied regions. If the enemy detected the radar passively in or near their airspace it could provide away the MC-130J’s presence and compromise its challenge and its survivability. The terrain-observe and terrain avoidance capability in of itself allows enable extraordinarily low nap-of-the-earth flight profiles, along with in bad weather and at night, to assist prevent and avoid adverse air defenses.

SOCOM initially started the SKR program within the past due 2000s mostly to expand a brand new terrain-following/terrain avoidance radar for the special operations MH-forty seven Chinooks and MH-60 Black Hawks assigned to the Army’s elite one hundred and sixtieth Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Since then, however, the attempt has evolved, with plans now for the radar to emerge as a not unusual gadget for those helicopters, in addition to the Air Force’s special operations CV-22B Osprey tilt-rotors and the MC-130J.

Silent Knight offers sizable benefits for every one of these systems, however, is an especially essential improvement for the Commando II. AFSOC’s MC-a hundred thirty fleets as a whole, which also includes the MC-130H Combat Talon II, are facing increasing challenges as ever-enhancing risk air protection abilties maintain to emerge and proliferate around the world.

For many years now, AFSOC and different components of the Air Force have been investigating a big selection of potentially extra survivable substitute options, which includes stealth delivery aircraft, as well as myriad upgrades to make sure the MC-130 platform remains applicable inside the coming years. The War Zone lately finished a big -component feature on those traits, which you could find here and here.

In the meantime, terrain-following and terrain avoidance skills and nap-of-the-earth flight profiles continue to be crucial to the capability of MC-130s to finish their missions. So, shockingly, the Air Force took transport of the primary MC-130Js in 2011, and placed the first examples into the operational carrier the following 12 months, without such functionality. After nearly a decade, aside from the examples now carrying the SKR, the Commando II fleet nevertheless lacks the sort of capability observed at the older MC-130H.“Concerning the MC-130H Combat Talon II, those could continue to be in carrier longer, the primary retirements no longer deliberate until FY15 (two), with every other 3 in FY19,” in keeping with an respectable AFSOC records for the 2013 calendar year, which the author previously acquired thru the Freedom of Information Act. “The essential cause for keeping the H fashions longer centered on their capabilities, mainly terrain following radar and self-safety capabilities.”

It’s well worth noting that the MC-130J has already changed the MC-130P Combat Shadow, which served mainly as a special operations tanker for helicopters together with the one hundred and sixtieth’s MH-47s and MH-60s, in preference to as a platform to deeply penetrate into denied areas to insert, extract, or resupply special operations forces. This facilitates give an explanation for why the Air Force had initially named the J model as the Combat Shadow II, earlier than renaming it the Commando II. You can find the total story behind the MC-130J’s call right here. In Lockheed Martin’s new video, they talk over with the SKR-prepared aircraft as Combat Talon IIIs, a moniker the Air Force officially rejected, however, which may additionally end up a casual call for the plane, something that regularly takes place with U.S. Army plane.

Duane Simpson

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