First MC-130J training program takes flight

Nasty

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http://www.afsoc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123244674

Link included for photos.

by Rachel Arroyo
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

3/1/2011 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- As the first MC-130J Combat Shadow II rolled off the Lockheed Martin factory line, a training flight class conducted sorties in preparation for transition to the new airframe.

The Air Force Special Operations Training Center's first MC-130J training program flight class practiced air drops, aerial refueling and formation on an EC-130J Commando Solo at Harrisburg International Airport, PA recently.

AFSOTC worked in conjunction with the 193rd Special Operations Wing, the United States Marine Corps and the National Guard Bureau to kick-start a training program two years in the making.

"This first class is a small group try-out designed to validate our syllabus of instruction for the remaining classes," said Maj. Robert Deka, AFSOTC MC-130J training program manager.

In a phase AFSOTC commander Col. Mark Alsid referred to as "train the trainer," the program has pooled the best instructors to provide academic instruction to Air Commandos who will take that knowledge and bring it back to their home bases.

"AFSOTC is setting the stage for the future of this platform, and the MC-130J is a huge addition to the AFSOC fleet, so we have to get it right," Colonel Alsid said.

The program features tailored pilot, combat systems officer and loadmaster training with different facets held in California, New Mexico, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Florida.

After completing training in their respective areas, the flight class members met in Harrisburg for the first time to practice piloting the J-model with a reduced number of crew, which required enhanced coordination among members.

The MC-130J is manned by a 5-member crew. This is a reduction in size from the standard 8-member MC-130P Combat Shadow crew, Major Deka said.

With no flight engineer or radio systems operator, the loadmaster will assume many of the duties previously designated to those positions, including the complete preflight and loading of cryptic codes, said Master Sgt. Scott Reed, AFSOTC lead J-model loadmaster.
The loadmaster will also be a systems expert.

The combat systems operator will also engage in less traditional navigation duties as he handles in-flight helicopter refueling procedures normally conducted by the flight engineer.

No glitches occurred while coordinating these functions. Though this was the first class training flight on the Commando Solo, program instructors have been using MC-130J procedures for a few years, he said.

Sergeant Reed has been involved with the training program since its inception two years ago. He said he was honored to jump in headfirst and apply his knowledge of the MC-130P Combat Shadow to developing a training plan for the J-model alongside a select group of talented aviators which includes some from the Combat Talon community.

"It's rewarding," he said. "We literally started with nothing."

Lt. Col. Tobin Wong, AFSOTC evaluator pilot and MC-130J subject matter expert, echoed the sentiments of Sergeant Reed.

"It's exciting. A lot of hard work has gone into the training," Colonel Wong said. "But we could not have gotten to this point without the support of the 193 SOW."

In addition to qualifying crew members in MC-130J procedures, the program is designed to keep those qualified current until the Combat Shadow II is delivered later this year, said Major Deka.

The goal of the plan is to have at least five crews, or 25 members, trained by September, he said.

The EC-130J sorties will continue to take place in Harrisburg through the spring. The program instructors, many of whom are among the few MC-130J subject matter experts in the Air Force, will continue to develop the training in anticipation of the arrival of the streamlined airframe.

"The ability to get things right and set standards now is great," Sergeant Reed said. "It's certainly an outstanding time to be an aviator at AFSOC."

These sorties approach the culmination of AFSOC commander Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster's priority to recapitalize the fleet by acquiring up to 37 MC-130Js to replace aircraft that have been flying combat missions for up to 40 years.

The MC-130J will replace aging MC-130E Combat Talon I and MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft.

The Combat Shadow II will fly clandestine, low-level aerial refueling missions as well as infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions.
 

Vat_69

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About time. It's only been 5 YEARS that little rock has been flying them! Should have recapped the SOF fleet first IMO.
 

Vat_69

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There have been many heated debates on crew make up for the SOF J model. Since the MC-130J will be replacing the Shadow it's crew compliment may be less than what future MC-130Js (ones that will replace the Talon II). Not sure but the debate will continue i'm sure once they start flying real world scenarios in the MC-130J. Just wait til the old gunship bubbas realize that the new AC-130J will have damn near half of their current crew compliment. On that i agree because the tech going into the AC-130J is a millennia ahead of what they are flying with now thus requiring half the personnel. I know because I am flying with that tech right now.
 

talonlm

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You can cut back too far, technology or no. There is more to MC-130 ops that just point to point travel with an airdrop in the middle.
 

Vat_69

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You can cut back too far, technology or no. There is more to MC-130 ops that just point to point travel with an airdrop in the middle.

Is that Talon II speak for etic-ing for 4 hrs and getting to McGuire's early?

just messing with ya!
 

talonlm

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Probably. I'm on the Combat Talon--in the reserves--so we fly for cash. McGuire's can wait unti I get my double!
 

tennfly2

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Hey Gents, I see the MC's are transitioning to the J. I fly the Marine KC-130J. It looks like the transition will have some of the same growing pains that we did too. Contrary to belief, we do all C-130 mission including: aerial delivery (pers and cargo), assault landing, tanking (jets and helos), FARPS, and battlefield illumination. There are only 3 active duty squadrons in the Marine Corps and we have provided a continuous detachment in either (sometimes both) Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003 with the -J. So, for now, we are fairly standardized with our tactics and training. I am just interested in the similarities and differences of missions from us, AMC?, and AFSOC. BTW, our crew consists of 2 pilots, 1 CC (old FE), and 1-2 LM.
 

talonlm

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Can's speak for AMC--last time I flew slicks, AMC was still MAC--so my information there would probably be dated, to say the least. You guys do your FARPs through your Flecther pods, do you not? We're using the SPR panel . . . at least, on the Shadows, Talons and Talon 2s we are. MC-J-model may move in your direction there; I beleive the Big Blue ACC HC-Js are also using the coupling the HAR pods for FARP. Don't know much about how they plan on working in tactics. I personally would like to see both options tested out. More requirements, but more flexibility, as well.
As for drops, again, don't know much about J-model crew dynamics with regard to the update avionics and systems. It would seem like things would be much less confusing for the new guys when you're only dealing with four other voices as oppposed to seven or eight. As I recall, the J-model cargo comparment is set up with airdrops in mind--built in CVR, computer adjusted locks, whatever that squib system is called in AMC for releasing hung up extraction parachutes and the like. I would expect there would be little difference between how those missions are performed between the Marines and the Air Force as a lot of thought, blood, sweat and tears went into designing the systems we're using today.
Interesting the Air Force bought off on the selling point Lockheed was putting out about reducing the crew by two positions--navigator and FE--and then to note you guys are flying with a crew chief up front. Why not another pilot or loadmaster? Why do you need the fifth crewdawg at all?
 

tennfly2

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As for AD, I’m sure the AMC guys can attest that the system is spot on. However, the Marines don’t have the gucci stuff in the back (built in CVR, computer adjusted locks, etc).

As for crew composition, it’s funny that you bring this up. When we first started out, we had a TSO (tactical safety officer), either an old nav or a pilot. But for the last 5 years, we just go with 2 pilots and a crew chief. This is actually works out really well. The crew chief syllabus is little less robust FE syllabus, and most of the senior guys are old FEs anyway. Why do we like our crew chiefs? Because they retain the ability to do expeditionary maintenance (Marine Corps loves expeditionary) and it provides one more person to back us up. But, .......

Within the last year, much do the dismay of the community, Higher has created a new position, Crewmaster. This will combine the LM and CC into MOS. We have been cross training LM and CC but haven’t got beyond that.
 

talonlm

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Sounds like someone in your higher got bitten by the same insane bug that bit the air force, though, instead of a loadmaster, they just put in another pilot. Saves money that way, right?
I'd forgotten about the fact the Marines went with the old rail system, though it makes perfect sense as to why--if it works, why mess with it?--but there is a lot to be said about the 'gucci' systems when it comes to airdrop rigging and getting cargo moved in and our quickly. I haven't personally used those systems (still on E-models myself) but putting in the old CVR system is a time-consuming task, no matter how good you are at it. Being able to hit a button and have it pop up out of the floor is not bad in my book. Ditto with the flip-over rollers and having to set lock tensions. Seat are still the same fabric-and-rod annoyances they always were; can't have it all, I suppose. It will be interesting to see what the powers that be decide on for capabilities in the MC-J; right now, it's just a souped up P-model--no terrain following, no ECM. The 241 radar is pretty good, but it's no TF system.
As for the survivability question above, the golden BB is always out there. Even for a herk. I don't think the J is any more vulnerable to it than any other -130. Lockgreed has a well thought out avionics system and it's the same airframe. My only real question is the reliarility of the flight control systems with regard to hydraulic system damage--but my knowledge is pretty limited when it comes to J-model systems.
 

x SF med

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Can you trail a pallet drop with your team .... that's all that matters to me... gimme green, a push, 20 seconds and the team goes... I'm old enough to remember the MC130E ... I think I still have a "Blackbirds" patch somewhere... traded the electric butterknife for it.
 

talonlm

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That was a kick-ass butterknife . . . hard on batteries, though.

Combo drops should be easy, no real change from what we were doing before. Airflow may be a bit different on exit but that shouldn't be a show-stopper. Did they ever solve the problem with the prop vortices around the paratroop doors? I'm sure they have, but I never heard what they did to solve it. Ninety percent of t he personnel drops we do are out of the ramp and door, so it's no big deal for us, but if you want mass on a DZ, you need the paratroop doors.
 

tennfly2

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old CVR system is a time-consuming task, no matter how good you are at it. Being able to hit a button and have it pop up out of the floor is not bad in my book. Ditto with the flip-over rollers and having to set lock tensions

No joke, I wish we had the new stuff. More so with our loadmaster than me though.

Can you trail a pallet drop with your team

Yeah we can, its not too hard. We call it a combo drop.
 

tennfly2

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Did they ever solve the problem with the prop vortices around the paratroop doors? I'm sure they have, but I never heard what they did to solve it. Ninety percent of t he personnel drops we do are out of the ramp and door, so it's no big deal for us, but if you want mass on a DZ, you need the paratroop doors.

Not sure if they did anything about this. We have paratroop door deflectors, Do they have these on the legacy models? We also use the ramp and door for about 99 percent of our drops. The J's ramp and door airspeed limit is now 250kts and the paratroop doors are 150kts. But, your right, its not so good for mass personnel on the DZ.
 

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[quote="tennfly2, post: 136621The J's ramp and door airspeed limit is now 250kts and the paratroop doors are 150kts. But, your right, its not so good for mass personnel on the DZ.[/quote]

150 max or minimum? I had some -141 jumps (dating myself, yes) in the 150-160 kt. range and they sucked. Above 150 and you start breaking parachutes.
 

DA SWO

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[quote="tennfly2, post: 136621The J's ramp and door airspeed limit is now 250kts and the paratroop doors are 150kts. But, your right, its not so good for mass personnel on the DZ.

150 max or minimum? I had some -141 jumps (dating myself, yes) in the 150-160 kt. range and they sucked. Above 150 and you start breaking parachutes.[/quote]

And popping shoulders (1st hand experience).
 

talonlm

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The 250 kt restriction is the maximum speed with the ramp and door open. All 130s (Js included) are dropping personnel at about 120-130 kts, depending on aircraft performance for a given day, weight and drag index. Only drops we do faster than that are the HSLLADS drops, something the Js are capable of, but I believe is pretty much still only done by AFSOC birds. I don't know how fast all the T-tailed bugsuckers are going when they do their drops; never been much more than an annoying passenger on one.
 
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