KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (Tech Sgt Saltekoff) – Kadena’s newest aircraft touched down here, Dec. 21, 2014, after a flight across the Pacific to its new home with the 353rd Special Operations Group.
The MC-130J Commando II is replacing the retiring MC-130P Combat Shadow assigned to the 353rd SOG’s 17th Special Operations Squadron.
“The Commando II represents a giant leap forward for specialized air mobility,” said Maj. Michael Perry, 17th SOS assistant operations officer. “The MC-130J can carry more, further and faster than any of its predecessors.”
Special operations began using the Combat Shadow in the mid-1980s, conducting air refueling missions during Operation Just Cause in Panama and in the 1990s during Operation Desert Storm.
Here in the Pacific region, the Combat Shadows have supported more than a dozen named operations, from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom to humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations.
“The MC-130J is part of Air Force Special Operations Command’s fleet-wide C-130 recapitalization,” said Maj. Matthew Bartlett, 17th SOS operations officer.
The recapitalization began in 2011 with the first MC-130J delivery to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., in conjunction with the progressive retirements of the MC-130E, AC-130H and MC-130P fleets. The AC-130U, AC-130W and MC-130H are all eventually scheduled to be replaced by C-130J aircraft.
“The J-model aircraft will be executing the same missions as their predecessors, said Bartlett. “The newer airframes, with their increased efficiency and fleet-common technology, will reduce operational costs to the Air Force.”
Perry said the technology sets new standards for safety and accuracy in executing their specialized airdrop, low-level, infiltration and exfiltration, and helicopter/tilt-rotor aerial refueling missions.
“We are all excited about the increased capability this brings to our SOF partners as we carry on the 17th SOS legacy of ‘No Mission Too Demanding,’ Perry said.”