Boeing is to convert 10 Lockheed Martin C-130s to MC-130H Combat Talon II configuration for US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The additional aircraft are part of a recapitalisation under way to address attrition and expansion of US special-operations forces. The USAF has lost a number of special-operations C-130s, including an MC-130H that crashed in Albania on 31 March.

Boeing Aerospace Support has received a $134 million contract to modify the first two aircraft, with the follow-on production of eight MC-130Hs estimated to be worth $446 million. Deliveries are to begin in July 2008 and continue to the end of 2011. Boeing is already producing four additional AC-130U gunships for AFSOC, the first of which will be delivered next year.

The MC-130Hs will feature the common avionics architecture for penetration (CAAP), an expanded version of Boeing's USAF C-130 avionics modernisation programme (AMP) upgrade for AFSOC. The AMP upgrade includes installation of a glass cockpit; CAAP adds more electronic-warfare and threat-penetration aids. The MC-130Hs will be fitted with towed decoy and low-band jammer, and updated radar warning receiver. The aircraft will also carry pods for aerial refuelling of AFSOC heli­­copters and Bell Boeing CV-22 tiltrotors.

* AFSOC has fielded a software upgrade for AC-130Hs that allows the gunships to track and shoot at two targets simultaneously, limiting engagement time and crew exposure.

Source: Flight International