USAF Special Operations - Non-standard Aviation

United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) intra-theater airlift fleet currently operate a number of light and medium aircraft in the non-standard aviation role.

These aircraft are used for insertion, extraction and resupply operations in situations where the much larger MC-130 Combat Talon or Combat Spear aircraft are unsuitable. They typically are painted in civilian schemes in order to provide a more clandestine profile.

U-28A

Based around the Pilatus PC-12 light aircraft, the U-28A is small enough to land on small grass or dirt airstrips. It can carry 10 passengers or 3,000lbs of cargo onto airstrips half the length that a C-130 can. The U-28A features a fitment of sophisticated communications and navigation equipment and is operated by the 34th, 318th and 319th Special Operations Squadrons.

afsoc u-28a
An AFSOC U-28A aircraft
photo : US Air Force

M-28 Skytruck

In 2009 AFOSC ordered 10 M-28 Skytrucks for the non-standard aviation role. The aircraft, designated as the C-145A, can carry up to 19 passengers or up to 19,000lbs of cargo. The Skytruck is operated by the 318th Special Operations Squadron.

update: AFSOC's C-145As transferred from the 318th SOS to the 6th SOS in April 2013. The aircraft will flown in support of the 6th SOS's aviation foreign internal defense (AVFID) mission. The C-145a will also be flown by the 711th Special Operations Squadron, 919th Special Operations Wing, the reserve counterpart of the active duty 6th SOS.

afsoc skytruck
An AFSOC Skytruck drops supplies in support of special operations forces on the ground in Afghanistan, 2012. AFSOC C-145As have supported SOF operations in Afghanistan and Africa.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Rasmussen/Released

Q-200

The Q-200 is a variant of the Bombardier Dash 8 medium-range turboprop civilian aircraft. AFSOC has reportedly leased 4 Q-200s in 2008 and 2009 as a stop-gap measure while a permanent medium aircraft is decided on for the non-standard aviation role. The Q-200 can carry up to 39 passengers and features an Active Noise and Vibration Suppression (ANVS). The Q-200 is operated by the 524th Special Operations Squadron (524th SOS) out of Cannon AFB.

update: the 524th SOS new operate the C-146A Wolfhound instead of the Q-200s (see below).

C-146A Wolfhound

The Dornier 328 is a turboprop aircraft typically used by civilian airlines as a commuter airliner. AFSOC flies the Do-328, designated by the air force as the C-146A Wolfhound, in support of special operations forces. The C-146A is operated by the 524th SOS.

C-146A
An AFSOC C-146A Wolfhound operating from a dirt strip.
US DoD photo

More Non-standard Aviation Aircraft

The secretive 427th Special Operations Squadron is beleived to operate a number of covert transport aircraft, including C212 variants, CN235 and PC-6 airframes.

for more info on these aircraft see : 427th Special Operations Squadron

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