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an updated aircraft and even better air- crew, led to two decades of increasing capabilities for the MC-130P. Combat Shadow Airmen have proven their success, and earned accolades and med- als for combat and other operations on a regular basis: Operation JUST CAUSE, DESERT STORM, Operation ALLIED FORCE over Bosnia/Kosovo, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan, Operation PUMA in Iraq, OEF-Philippines, tsunami relief operations for Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan, just to name a few. But this is not supposed to be a history lesson; it is a account of how AFSOC plans to put the Combat Shadow warrior ethos into an airplane with even more capability; the MC-130J Combat Shadow II.


A Radically-Improved Weapon System: The


MC-130J Combat Shadow II It’s not often that a Herk crew-


member gets to set foot on a new C-130 (it actually smells good). Seeing an MC-130J on the flight line, the most noticeable difference from the old Herk comes from its six-bladed compos- ite props. They are not just an updated


look to the old prop…they produce 25% more power on a hot day even though the J-model Rolls-Royce engines have been dialed back to nearly the same shaft horsepower as the P-model’s Allison T56-A-15 engines. That would measure approximately 24,500 lbs of torque vice the current 19,600 lbs max…if MC-130J pilots worried about torque. Instead they simply use engine horsepower settings. This power improvement means faster cruise speeds at altitude (340+ vs. 290 TAS) while the new engines are more efficient at the high power settings. The average tactical fuel burn rates go from over 6,000 lbs per hour in the P-model down to around 4,500 lbs per hour in the MC-130J. This equates to longer flight durations, more fuel for CV-22s and MH-47/60s, and/or more cargo. Another subtle yet noticeable difference on the outside of the plane, especially to a Herk aficionado, are the “longerons” along each side of the ramp and door. These strengtheners allow the ramp and door to be opened at 250 knots for high- speed airdrop operations. One piece of external equipment that does not look any different is the HAR pod; the MC-130J still uses an updated version of the Sargent Fletcher pod.


Walking through the crew entrance


door, C-130 Airmen immediately notice the old Technical Order (T.O.) publi- cations bin has been replaced with a loadmaster workstation and computer. This is not simply a PC…it takes the place of multiple T.O.s, weight and balance books, and calculators. Even more remarkably, the system provides a graphic depiction of the Enhanced Cargo Handling System (ECHS) cargo compartment. This is an upgrade from a simple, legacy, “dual-rail” system. The computer controls and monitors electronic lock conditions and issues Caution, Advisory, and Warning System (CAWS) messages. It calculates weight and balance (based on LM input), remotely controls the electronic locks, and is used to actuate locks during heavy equipment airdrops and combat offloads. Essentially, it simplifies opera- tions by validating load plans prior to actual aircraft loading, remotely control- ling electronic locks to be preset before loading operations, and increasing crew safety during airdrop operations by hav- ing the loadmaster positioned far from the load with electronic control of the airdrop process to include extraction drogue jettison capability. Unfortunately,


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