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EC-130
An EC-130H
Role Psychological and information operations
Manufacturer Lockheed Aircraft Co.
Lockheed Martin
Introduced 1986
Primary user United States Air National Guard
Number built 6
Unit cost US$90 million
Developed from C-130 Hercules

The Lockheed EC-130 Commando Solo is a modified C-130 Hercules used to conduct psychological operations (PSYOP) and civil affairs broadcast missions in the standard AM, FM, HF, TV and military communications bands. Missions are flown at the maximum altitudes possible to ensure optimum propagation patterns. The EC-130 flies during either day or night scenarios with equal success, and is air-refuelable. A typical mission consists of a single-ship orbit which is offset from the desired target audience. The targets may be either military or civilian personnel. The Commando Solo is operated exclusively by the 193d Special Operations Wing, which is based at the Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Other EC-130 variants include ABCCC and Compass Call. The ABCCC is an Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center used as an airborne command post. Last, but not least, Compass Call is an airborne communications jamming platform. It was used extensively in the Gulf War disrupting Iraqi communications at both the strategic and tactical levels.

Contents

Design and development

The EC-130E Commando Solo entered service in 1978 as the EC-130E Coronet Solo with the Tactical Air Command (TAC). In 1983 the Coronet Solo's mission was transferred to the Military Airlift Command (MAC) and redesignated the EC-130E Volant Solo. With the formation of Air Force Special Operations Command, the mission was transferred to AFSOC and redesignated Commando Solo. In the early 1990s the aircraft were upgraded and designated Commando Solo II. The EC-130E variants were replaced with new EC-130J Commando Solo III aircraft beginning in 2003.

Highly-specialized modifications have been made to the latest version of the EC-130 (Commando Solo). Included in these mods are enhanced navigation systems, self-protection equipment, and the capability of broadcasting color television on a multitude of worldwide standards through out the TV VHF/UHF ranges.

Secondary missions include command and control communications countermeasures (C3CM) and limited intelligence gathering. The three variants are EC-130 ABCCC, EC-130E Commando Solo, and the EC-130J Commando Solo. The version currently in service is the EC-130J, as the last EC-130E was retired from service in 2006.

Operational history

U.S. Military personnel assigned to the 4th Psychological Operations Group, 193d Special Operations Wing, Pennsylvania Air Nation Guard broadcast television and radio programming from onboard an EC-130E aircraft, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The EC-130 was originally modified by using the mission electronic equipment from the EC-121S Coronet Solo. Soon after the 193rd SOG received its EC-130s, the unit participated in the rescue of US citizens in Operation Urgent Fury, acting as an airborne radio station informing those people on Grenada of the US military action. Commando Solo was instrumental in the success of coordinated psychological operations in Operation Just Cause, again broadcasting continuously throughout the initial phases of the operation to help end the Manuel Noriega regime. More recently, in 1994, Commando Solo was utilized to broadcast radio and television messages to the citizens and leaders of Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy.

The EC-130s deployed early in the operation, highlighting the importance of PSYOP in avoiding military and civilian casualties. President Aristide was featured on the broadcasts which contributed significantly to the orderly transition from military rule to democracy.

The aircraft was also deployed during the 2010 Haiti earthquake, broadcasting a recording from Raymond Joseph (Haiti's ambassador to the United States) warning residents not to attempt to flee to the United States by sea. The aircraft also broadcast announcements of where earthquake victims can go for food and aid, news from Voice of America, and instructions on hygiene procedures to prevent disease[1].

In 1990 the EC-130 joined the newly formed Air Force Special Operations Command and has since been designated Commando Solo, with no change in mission. This one-of-a-kind aircraft is consistently improving its capabilities. The next few years should see continued enhancements to the EC-130 and its worldwide mission.

Specifications

Data from {US Air Force Factsheet}[2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: pilot, copilot, flight systems officer, mission systems officer; loadmaster, five electronic communications systems operators (6+)
  • Length: 97.75 ft (29.7 m)
  • Wingspan: 132.6 ft (40.3 m)
  • Height: 38.8 ft (11.8 m)
  • Max takeoff weight: 155,000 lb (69,750 kg)
  • Powerplant:Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop, 4,637 shp (3,458 kW)) each
  • Propellers: Dowty R391 6-blade composite propeller, 1 per engine

Performance

See also

Related development

Related lists

References

External links

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