AirAmericasSeaTechnology

USAF Developing Amphibious C-130J Super Hercules Aircraft

The US Air Force (USAF) is developing an amphibious version of the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft for improved seaborne operations capacity.

Named the MC-130J Commando II Amphibious Capability (MAC), the aircraft development program envisions an enhanced role for the aircraft through “runway independence” in the form of “placement and access for infiltration, exfiltration, and personnel recovery,” as well as improved logistical capabilities. 

USAF Lt. Col. Josh Trantham said, “Seaborne operations offer nearly unlimited water landing zones providing significant flexibility for the Joint Force,” particularly when land is unavailable. 

A rendering of an amphibious modification to an MC-130J Commando II. Image: Air Force Special Operations Command

Enhances Global Reach

The Lockheed Martin aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 164,000 lb/74,389 kg with a 46,700 lb/21,183 kg payload capacity. It requires a landing distance of 3,000 ft/914 m and has a range of 2,160 nm/4,000 km. According to the developers, a “removal amphibious float” extends the aircraft’s global reach and survivability.

USAF Maj. Kristen Cepak said, “MAC is vital to future success because it will allow for the dispersal of assets within a Joint Operations Area.”

“This diaspora complicates targeting of the aircraft by our adversaries and limits aircraft vulnerability at fixed locations.”

Development Program

The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and industry partners are testing prototypes “through digital design, virtual reality modeling (VR), and computer-aided designs (CAD),” AFSOC said. This will lead to “digital simulation, testing, and the use of advanced manufacturing for rapid prototyping and physical prototype testing.”

The development program involves five-stage rapid prototyping, leading to an operational capability demonstration in 17 months, with the possible incorporation of MAC capabilities in other MC-130 variants.

 

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