Looks like a C-130 seaplane is finally coming

Last May, we reported that the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) was serious about making the long-held dream of a C-130 seaplane a reality. In fact, the MC-130J amphibious capability, or MAC, was among its new supply priorities. While we got a little gritty look at what it might look like when we tabled this report, along with other historic design concepts, now we have a much better look at what exactly they want, and yes , it’s a C-130 on fleet.

In fact, they have come up with a number of similar seaplane concepts, some more traditional while others are more streamlined, compliant and futuristic. The capability appears to include the need for amphibious operations. In other words, the MC-130 can still land on a runway with the floats installed. You can see the renderings published by AFSOC throughout this article.

The Air Force Special Operations Command stated the following, which is roughly what we summed up in May, in a official release as of September 14, 2021:

The C-130J is an incredibly versatile aircraft, and since its inception it has landed on rough terrain, arctic regions and even on an aircraft carrier. Still, it can’t land on water, which covers about 71% of the planet. While the national strategic objectives focus on the littoral regions, the Air Force Special Operations Command proposes new approaches to extend the runway independence and the expeditionary capability of the multi-mission platform.

In partnership with the Directorate of Planning and Experimentation of Strategic Development of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL-SDPE), AFSOC is developing an MC-130J Commando II (MAC) amphibious capability for improve platform support for maritime special operations. “The development of MAC capability is the culmination of multiple lines of effort,” said Lt. Col. Josh Trantham, deputy division chief of science, systems, technology and innovation (SST & I) of AFSOC. “This capability enables the Air Force to increase placement and access for infiltration, exfiltration and recovery of personnel, as well as to provide improved logistics capabilities for competition and future conflict.”

The development of a modification of a removable amphibious float for an MC-130J would allow “to be independent of the runway.operations, which Trantham said would extend the global reach and survivability of the aircraft and air commandos. “Maritime operations provide almost unlimited water landing zones, providing significant flexibility to the joint force,” said Trantham.

The use of MAC capability can provide unrestricted operational access to waterways to distribute forces if land resources are compromised.

“The MAC is vital for future success because it will allow the dispersion of resources within a joint operations area … This diaspora complicates the targeting of the aircraft by our adversaries and limits the aircraft’s vulnerability to fixed locations. “

Currently, a five-phase prototyping initiative is underway that hopes to lead to an operational demonstration of the MAC concept in just 17 months. This is a very ambitious timeline which is aided by virtual modeling and other digital engineering concepts that are currently making the buzz within the Pentagon and in particular the Air Force. Lockheed Martin has the advantage of having conducted numerous design studies on this type of capability in the past, including at least one based on the C-130J variant as recently as the late 1990s.

Then, with much of the development work done and even tested, AFSOC could very quickly go into full acquisition mode to set up a truly operational MAC and potentially help deploy the concept to other C-130s. (who is fighting fires?).

Lt. Col. Josh Trantham explains:

“We believe that MAC will be able to be used by our sister services, allies and partners on various C-130 platforms … In addition, the expansion of the operational use of an amphibious aircraft alongside other innovative tools will pose even more complex dilemmas in future battle spaces for our strategic competitors. “

It’s amazing to think that after nearly seven decades of using the C-130, an aircraft that has been adapted to do so many disparate things, we might be on our way to finally getting one that can operate from there. ‘water.

We will keep you posted on the progress of this fascinating program.

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