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Lockheed reveals special ops C-130J variant

Lockheed Martin used the show to reveal a new variant of its C-130J Hercules transport aircraft. The HC/MC-130J is a tailored special operations version intended to replace the C-130s used by the US Air Force's Special Operations Command. These include HC-130N and HC-130Ps, MC-130Es, MC-130Ps and MC-130Hs, used in the combat search and rescue and special forces roles. Further ahead, Lockheed hopes that this "common core" airframe will form the basis of a gunship to replace AC-130s.

The new aircraft has been developed using company funds, although an official acquisition decision memorandum for 68 aircraft has been issued to replace the older MC-130E, MC-130P and HC-130P aircraft. The overall requirement is for 115 aircraft.

C-130J Variant

The HC/MC-130J incorporates an in-flight refuelling receiver capability and is fitted with the 250kt (460km/h) ramp and cargo door from the KC-130J (and the same air-to-air refuelling pods), the EO/IR imaging system from the HC-130H and the enhanced service life wing from the MC-130H.

The aircraft has a dual display combat systems operator station not found on transport versions of the C-130J.

To meet the ambitious initial operational capability date of 2012 (with a minimum of 10 aircraft in service), Lockheed hopes to perform the first flight in 2010, with first deliveries following in 2011.

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