MC-130P Combat Shadow
The MC-130P Combat Shadow is based around the venerable C-130 Hercules airframe. The aircraft is Operated by USAF Special Operations
note: the MC-130P began service in the mid 1980s and was eventually retired in May 2015.
MC-130P Combat Shadow - Roles
USAF Special Ops use the MC-130P aircraft for the following roles:
- the MC-130P's primary mission is the air-to-air refueling of special operations helicopters, in friendly, politically-sensitive or hostile environments, day and night. Refueling operations typically occur in multi-ship formations to enable simultaneous refueling of multiple helicopters
- insertion, extraction and re supply of special operations forces by airdrop and by landing/takeoff
- psychological operations (leaflet drops)
MC-130P Combat Shadow - Features
To enable the MC-130P to penetrate hostile air space, it features an array of navigational systems. Since Combat Shadows frequently fly in the dead of night, the aircraft features night-vision-goggles-compatible HUD (head up display) and interior and exterior lighting.
For navigation. the MC-130P features a fully-integrated inertial navigation system, weather radar and GPS.
The communications package on the MC-130P includes satellite and data burst capabilities.
A suite of radar and missile warning sensors, in addition to flare and chaff launchers provide defense against hostile weapons systems.
MC-130Ps feature refueling pods fitted to the wings for refueling helicopters via drogues trailed behind the aircraft. The MC-130P can also take on fuel itself from other airborne tankers.
Differences with MC-130E/H
The Combat Shadow differs from the Combat Talons in several key areas:
- navigation - the MC-130P lacks the terrain-following radar found in the MC-130E/H. This means that is less capable of flying low level in poor visibility
- defensive systems - the Shadow lacks the more advanced defensive aids found on the MC-130E/H such as the DIRCM infrared jammers. The consequence of this is that MC-130Ps tend to be restricted to operating at night, under the cloak of darkness.
- air drops - the MC-130P lacks a dual rail cargo loading system and a strengthened fuselage required for certain types of high speed air drops.
MC-130P Operational History
- 1991 - Persian Gulf - Operation Desert Storm
MC-130Ps provided air-to-air refueling for US special operations helicopters
They also dropped Psyops leaflets on Iraq forces
- 1992-2003 - Iraq - Operation Northern and Southern Watch
MC-130ps supported operations to prevent the Iraqi air force from operating in proscribed areas.
- 1993-- Former Yugoslavia - Operation Deny Flight
- 1994 - Haiti - Operation Restore Democracy & Operation Uphold Democracy
- 1995 - Bosnia - Deliberate Force & Joint Endeavor
- 1996 - Liberia - Operation Assured Response
Combat Shadows refueled MH-53 helicopters taking apart in the evacuation of American citizens
- 1997 - Albania
MC-130Ps supported the evacuation of American civilians from war-torn Albania
- 2001-Present - Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom
- 2003-Present - Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom
4 officers (pilot,copilot, primary navigator, secondary navigator
4 enlisted (flight engineer, communications officer, 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)|
|Speed||289 mph (sea level)|
|Defensive systems||AN/ALE-27 chaff/flare dispensors|
|Avionics||AN/ASN-159 Navigation Data Display Set