Lockheed L-100 / C-130 Hercules
The 1958 Ground Proximity System uses a cargo hook dangling from the open tail door which snares a ground cable, which pulls cargo out. Up to 13,000 lb can be pulled out.
The MC-130E Combat Talon I and MC-130H Combat Talon II provide infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces and equipment in hostile or denied territory. Secondary missions include psychological operations and helicopter and vertical lift air refueling.
MC-130E/H Combat Talon I/II
Both aircraft feature terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radars capable of operations as low as 250 feet in adverse weather conditions. Structural changes to a basic C-130 include the addition of an in-flight refueling receptacle and strengthening of the tail to allow high speed/low-signature airdrop. Their navigation suites include dual ring-laser gyros, mission computers, and integrated global positioning system. An extensive electronic warfare suite enables the aircrew to detect and avoid potential threats. If engaged, the system will protect the aircraft from both radar and infrared-guided threats.
Both the MC-130E and MC-130H are equipped with aerial refueling pods to provide in-flight refueling of special operations forces and combat search and rescue helicopters and vertical lift assets.
The primary difference between the MC-130E and MC-130H involves the degree of integration of the mission computers and avionics suite. The Combat Talon I was conceived originally and developed during the 1960s, and although extensively upgraded in the 1980-90s it still features analog instrumentation and does not fully integrate the sensors and communications suites. The Combat Talon II, designed in the 1980s, features an integrated glass flight deck which improves crew coordination and reduces the crew complement by two.
The MC-130E Combat Talon first flew in 1966 and saw extensive service in Southeast Asia, including the attempted rescue of Americans held at the Son Tay prisoner-of-war camp in 1970. Also, the MC-130E landed in the Iranian desert in April 1980 in support of Operation Eagle Claw, the attempt to rescue American hostages held by Iran.
The MC-130E saw combat in Grenada in 1983, delivering U.S. Army Rangers to Point Salinas Airfield in the opening moments of Operation Urgent Fury, and subsequently performing psychological operations leaflet drops. In 1989 they led the joint task force for Operation Just Cause in Panama, helping to seize the airfield at Rio Hato.
In 1990, MC-130Es were employed in Operation Desert Storm, where they dropped 11 BLU-82 15,000-pound bombs and more than 23 million leaflets in a highly effective effort to encourage Iraqi soldiers to surrender. They also conducted numerous aerial refuelings of special operations helicopters with combat search and rescue operations.
The MC-130H Combat Talon II first arrived at Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 29, 1992, and after acceptance testing, began official flying operations Oct. 17, 1992. Since then, the MC-130H has played a role in AFSOC operations including the evacuations of non-combatant Americans and other civilians from conflicts in Liberia in 1996. Also, in 1998, a Combat Talon II aircrew was awarded the Mackay Trophy for the involvement in the evacuation of civilians from the Republic of the Congo (1997); and they participated in combat operations in the Balkans during Operation Allied Force.
In 2001, MC-130Hs were employed to seize an airfield in southern Afghanistan delivering U.S. Army Rangers to commence ground operations in Operation Enduring Freedom and later in 2003, the MC-130H was the first US aircraft to land at Bagdad International to initiate missions supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since Oct 2001, both aircraft have been used extensively in Operations Enduring, Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines, and Iraqi Freedom in a variety of roles.
In 2001 10 MC-130E were operational with the Reserves, and 20 MC-130H with the Active force.
One of the measures considered for a second hostage rescue attempt in Iran was a project to develop a "Super STOL" aircraft, to be flown by Combat Talon crews, that would use a soccer stadium near the US Embassy as an improvised landing field. Called Credible Sport, the project acquired three C-130H transports from an airlift unit in late August 1980, one as a test bed and two for the mission, and modified them on an accelerated basis.
Designated as the XFC-130H, the aircraft were modified by the installation of 30 rockets in five sets: eight firing forward to stop the aircraft, eight downward to brake its descent rate, eight rearward for takeoff assist, four mounted on the wings to stabilize them during takeoff transition, and two at the rear of the tail to prevent it from striking the ground because of over-rotation. Other STOL features included a dorsal and two ventral fins on the rear fuselage, double-slotted flaps and extended ailerons, a new radome, a tailhook for landing aboard an aircraft carrier, and Combat Talon avionics, including a TF/TA radar, a defensive countermeasures suite, and a Doppler radar/GPS tie-in to the aircrafts inertial navigation system.
Of the three aircraft, only one received full modification. The program abruptly ended when it crashed during testing on October 29, 1980, and international events soon after rendered another rescue attempt moot.
The C-130J-30 is a stretched variant and is 15 ft longer and can carry two extra cargo pallets compared to C-130H (30% more). A key to the C-130J-30’s increased performance is a mission computer linked to the four new, electronically controlled (by Lucas Aerospace’s FADEC (full author-ity digital electronic control) system) Allison AE-2100D3 turboprops. Flat rated to 4,691 shp (down from 6,148 shp), the engines still generate 29 percent more thrust and they are 15 percent more fuel-efficient than the E model’s. An all-composite six-blade Dowty Aerospace R391 propeller is lighter and has fewer moving parts than previous Hercules C-130 propellers. Lockheed-Martin were to develop and produce six WC-130J weather reconnaissance aircraft.
Between November 1968 and November 1989, only four, and later six, AC130 gunships were operating over the Trail, pending delivery of more advanced 'Spectres'.
The first AC-130 gunship had arrived in Vietnam for field trials in September 1967, and its success led to the decision to modify more of the type. However, the Air Force could not spare any of its C-130 fleet, they were all needed for airlift duties throughout South-East Asia. Seven early-model C-130s were available though, and the first of these was converted to gunship configuration by June 1968; combat operations began with four aircraft in October 1968.
The AC-130 was armed with four 7.62mm minigun modules and four 20mm gatting cannon. Two of each were mounted forward of the main landing gear on the port (left) side of the aircraft and two each aft of the gear. In addition, a Night Observation Device (NOD) or Starlite Scope was carried - a sophisticated piece of equipment which enables the user to see targets on the ground by utilizing the available star or moonlight. The NOD and a primitive infra-red sensor were fitted to the port side of the aircraft and a bread-board computer was also carried to co-ordinate all the variables involved in a side-firing weapons system. These early AC-130s were operated by the newly formed 16th Special Operations Squadron at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, and the Commander of Spectre Crew Number One was Lieutenant Colonel William Schwehm.
The AC-130H (also Spectre), which initially worked with the AC-130A, replaced it in 1995. The H-model has computers which can tell whether a target is friendly or not, thus, reducing the amount of casualties due to friendly fire. In the Persian Gulf War, one AC-130H was lost, along with all 14 crew.
Primary Function: Infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces
Engines: Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop, 4,910 shaft horsepower
Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)
Length: 99 feet, 9 inches (30.4 meters)
Height: 38 feet, 6 inches (11.7 meters)
Speed: 300 mph
Load: 77 troops, 52 paratroopers or 57 litter patients
Ceiling: 33,000 feet (10,000 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight:155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)
Range: 2,700 nautical miles (4,344 kilometers)
Crew: Two pilots, a navigator and electronic warfare officer (officers); flight engineer and two loadmasters (enlisted)
Date Deployed: June 1991
Unit Cost: US$155 million
Lockheed C-130 Hercules