This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you consent to our use of cookies. more info | ok
▼ share this page

MC-130E Combat Talon I / MC-130H Combat Talon II

The MC-130 Combat Talons are highly-modified C-130 Hercules transport planes operated by USAF Special Operations.

MC-130E/H - Roles

USAF Special Ops use the MC-130E/H aircraft for the following roles:

  • airdrop / airland of personnel and equipment in support of Special Operations Forces
  • deep penetration special operations helicopter in-flight refueling
  • psychological operations (leaflet and ordnance drops)

MC-130E/H Variants

  • MC-130E Combat Talon I
    operated by:
    • 919th Special Operations Wing (reserves), Duke Field, Florida
  • MC-130H Combat Talon II
    operated by:
    • 16th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Florida
    • 352nd Special Operations Group, RAF Mildenhall, England
    • 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena AB, Japan
    The MC-130H features advanced integrated aircraft management and navigation systems that require a smaller crew than the E models.
mc-130h - landing strip note: the MC-130E Combat Talon 1 was retired from service in 2013, being replaced by the MC-130J Commando II.

MC-130E/H Features

For air-drop operations, MC-130s feature the high-speed aerial delivery system.

Some Combat Talons have been modified to accommodate MK32B-902E refueling pods in the wings. These, along with internal fuel tanks, allow the aircraft to refuel special ops helicopters and CV-22 Ospreys in-flight.


A multi-mode radar and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) sensors in the nose allow the MC-130 to fly at low level (below 250 ft) in all weathers. GPS and inertial navigation systems enable the crew to navigate to any spot on the globe.

Defensive Systems

Flare launchers and a pair of Nemeses Directional Infrared Counter Measures (DIRCM) pods, fitted each side of the rear fuselage, protect against both air-to-air and surface-to-air heat-seeking missiles. Various radar warning receivers, chaff launchers and electronic jammers detect and protect against radar-guided threats.

Medical Support

MC-130s can be equipped as flying hospitals, complete with in-flight surgeries, for treating the injured. Medical personnel from the Joint Medical Augmentation Unit (JMAU) work aboard such planes which can carry litters for up to 50 patients. 2 such MC-130s were used to evacuate and treat wounded Special Forces soldiers, AFSOC JTACs and Northern Alliance troops that resulted from a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan, 2001.

MC-130H nose
The distinctive bulge in the MC-130E/H's nose contains the AN/APQ-170 multi-mode radar. The smaller bump emanating from beneath the nose belongs to the FLIR sensor.
photo by : US Air Force
MC-130E flares
A MC-130E Combat Talon I launches multiple flares. A combination of infra-red jammers and flare launchers are fitted to the aircraft in order to defend against heat-seeking missiles.
photo by : US Air Force

MC-130 Operational History

  • 1980 - Iran - Operation Eagle Claw
    MC-130Es took part in the failed attempt to rescue Americans held hostage in Tehran.

  • 1989 - Panama - Operation Just Cause
    MC-130Es flew the captured dictator, Gen. Manuel Noriega, from Panama to the States to stand trial.

  • 1991 - Persian Gulf - Operation Desert Storm
    MC-130E/H aircraft flew helicopter refueling missions and leaflet drops. They also dropped 11 BLU-82 'Daisy Cutter' bombs on Iraqi troop formations.

  • 1991 - Northern Iraq - Operation Provide Comfort
    MC-130E/H aircraft flew humanitarian missions in support of efforts to protect the Kurdish people.

  • 1992-2003 - Iraq - Operation Southern Watch
    MC-130s supported the control of Iraqi airspace south of the 33rd Parallel.

  • 1992-1996 - Former Yugoslavia - Operation Provide Promise
    MC-130s air-dropped humanitarian aid to several Balkan cities.

  • 1996 - Liberia - Operation Assured Response
    USAF MC-130s evacuated American citizens from the war-torn African country.

  • 2001 - Present - Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom
    2 MC-130s inserted a SEAL platoon on their mission to recon an airstrip.
    MC-130s refueled helicopters and resupplied SOF and other troops in Afghanistan.
    Several BLU-82 'Daisy Cutter' bombs were dropped on Taliban / Al Qaeda troop positions by MC-130s.

  • 2003 - Present - Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom
    MC-130E/H aircraft carried out resupply and refueling ops in Iraq

MC-130E/H Specifications

Crew MC-130E
9 crew consisting of:
  • pilot
  • co-pilot
  • 2 navigators
  • electronic warfare officer
  • flight engineer
  • 2 loadmasters
  • communications specialist
7 crew consisting of:
  • pilot
  • co-pilot
  • 1 navigator
  • electronic warfare officer
  • flight engineer
  • 2 loadmasters
Engines 4 Allison turboprop engines T56-A-15
Dimensions Length : 29.8 meters (E) / 30.4 meters (H)
Height : 11.7 meters
Wingspan : 40.4 meters
Max Takeoff Weight 69,750 kilograms
Range 2,700 nm (without in-flight refueling)
Ceiling 33,000 feet
Speed 300 mph (sea level)
Load MC-130E: 53 troops, 26 paratroopers
MC-130H: 77 troops, 52 paratroopers or 57 litter patients
Countermeasures MC-103H:
AN/AAQ-24 Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM)
AN/AAR-44 infrared warning receiver
AN/AAR-47 missile warning system
AN/ALE-47 flare and chaff dispensing system
AN/ALQ-172 Electronic Countermeasure System
AN/ALQ-196 Jammer
AN/ALR-69 radar warning receiver
AN/APR-46A panoramic RF receiver
Sensors AN/APQ-170 multi-mode radar
(terrain following / avoidance / weather detection / ground mapping)
FLIR pod

MC-130H Combat Talon II
A USAF MC-130H prepares to take off as Special Tactics Squadron personnel run aboard via the rear ramp.

MC-130 Combat Talon Resources

« Special Ops Aircraft

Featured MC-130 COMBAT TALON Photo
MC-130 Combat Talon
A MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft takes off.
(click photo for fullsize image)
more USAF Special Operations Aircraft photos

Share This Page:

privacy policy | | © copyright 2018