MC-130J Commando II

Product Type:

Special Operations Aerial Refueling Tanker

Using Service (US):

USSOCOM: Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)

Program Status:

In Production

Prime Contractors:

Lockheed Martin Corp.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2014 Budget

The MC-130J Commando II

About the MC-130J:

The Lockheed Martin MC-130J Commando II is a military special mission and transport/aerial refueling aircraft. The MC-130J flies clandestine or low visibility, low-level aerial refueling missions to support special operations helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft, and infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces (SOF) by airdrop or airland intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories. The MC-130J primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by enemy aircraft.

Helicopter aerial refueling can be conducted at night with blacked out communication with up to two helicopters simultaneously. Additionally, forward area refueling point operations can be executed to support forces on the ground.

The MC-130J is powered by four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines with 4,591 shp each.

The aircraft is operated by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). As of September 30, 2013, there are 13 MC-130Js in the SOCOM aircraft inventory - up from 10 at the end of FY 2012. The MC-130J was granted Initial Operational Capability (IOC) status in December 2012.

The MC-130J is a result of the HC/MC-130 recapitalization program and replaces Air Combat Command's aging fleet of MC-130E/P Combat Talon I/Combat Shadow aircraft. It is expected that the USAF will purchase a total of 69 MC-130J aircraft for AFSOC. This figure excludes 16 MC-130J aircraft, which will be purchased and converted to AC-130J gunships to replace the aging AC-130H Spectre.

The MC-130J is equipped with an advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics; fully populated Combat Systems Operator (CSO) and auxiliary flight deck stations; 13-color multifunctional liquid crystal displays; head-up displays; fully integrated navigation systems with dual inertial navigation system and global positioning system; integrated defensive systems; low-power color radar; digital moving map display; Dowty R391 six-bladed all-composite propellers; digital auto pilot; improved fuel, environmental and ice-protection systems; enhanced cargo-handling system; Universal Air Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI), two air refueling pods, Electro Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) system; dual SATCOM for voice/data; 60/90 KVA generators; loadmaster/scanner restraint system; BAE Systems AN/ALR-56M radar warning receiver (RWR), AN/AAR-47(V) missile warning system (MWS), and AN/ALE-47 countermeasures dispensing system; and Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) provisions.

The MC-130J is operated by a crew of five, including three officers (pilot, co-pilot and combat system officer) and two loadmasters. Improvements over the older MC-130E/P reduces crew size by leaving the CSO to handle the helicopter refueling process normally run by a flight engineer. Also, loadmasters now handle other flight engineer and communications operator functions.

The MC-130J is replacing the aging AFSOC fleet of 37 MC-130E/P tankers. The first aircraft was delivered in September 2011 to Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. The aircraft was officially renamed Commando II from Combat Shadow II in March 2012.



Price/Unit Cost:

The unit cost of the MC-130J is $77.39 million (flyaway cost in FY 2014). When aircraft are delivered to SOCOM they undergo special operations upgrades/modifications at a cost of roughly $9 million per aircraft.

Program Cost:

The total procurement cost of the HC/MC-130 Recapitalization program is estimated at $13.50 billion + $0.16 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds, which means the total estimated program cost is $13.66 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made). This figure excludes military construction (MILCON) costs in support of the program in the amount of $339 million.


The MC-130J flies clandestine or low-visibility, low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft, and infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces by airdrop or airland, including politically sensitive or hostile territories.

FY 2014 DoD Program:

The Air Force will purchase four MC-130J aircraft in FY 14. Procurement funds in the amount of $453.4 million has been allocated to the program.

FY 2015 DoD Program:

The Air Force will purchase 2 MC-130J aircraft in FY 2015. Procurement funds in the amount of $271.0 million has been allocated to the program.

For more information, click to see the FY 2015 USAF MC-130J Budget.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Lockheed Martin Corp.,
Northrop Grumman, and Rolls-Royce plc.

Last Update: August 18, 2014.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard /// (

External Resources:

Lockheed Martin: MC-130J Commando II

YouTube: MC-130J Commando II | YouTube Videos

Fact Sheet: Not available

Total HC-/MC-130J Program Cost:

 $13.66 billion  ($13.50B procurement + $0.16B RDT&E)

C-130 U.S. Defense Spending Charts:

DoD Spending on the C-130 Hercules in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
DoD Purchases of C-130J Hercules Aircraft in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2011/12/13 + Budget for FYs 2014 + 2015

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the C-130 Family of Aircraft

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Purchases of MC-130J Aircraft (USAF) Modification of HC/MC-130 Aircraft (USAF)

Aircraft Specifications: MC-130J Commando II

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Primary Function: Aerial refueling of special operations forces (SOF) helicopter/tilt-rotor aircraft + resupply of SOF by airdrop or airland
Prime Contractor: Lockheed Martin Corp.
Power Plant: 4x Rolls-Royce AE-2100D3 turboprop engines with 4,591 shp each
Wingspan: 132 ft 7 in (40.41 m)
Length: 97 ft 9 in (29.79 m)
Height: 38 ft 10 in (11.84 m)
Weight (Empty): 89,000 lbs (40,370 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 164,000 lbs (74,390 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 61,360 lbs (27,830 kg)
Fuel Offload: Max. 21,000 lbs (9,525 kg) at 1,000 nm radius
Payload: 35,000 lbs (15,875 kg)
Speed: Cruise: 362 kts/417 mph (670 km/h) at 22,000 ft
Service Ceiling: 28,000 ft (8,534 m)
Range: 2,608 nm/3,000 miles (4,830 km)
Armament/Weapons: None
Crew: Basic Crew: Three officers (pilot, co-pilot and combat systems officer) + two enlisted loadmasters
Price/Unit Cost: $78.4 million flyaway cost + roughly $9 million in special operations modifications (2012)
First Flight: April 20, 2011
Deployed: September 2011; Initial Operational Capability (IOC): December 2012
Aircraft Inventory:
Total: 10 /// Active: 10; ANG: 0; Reserve: 0 (as of September 30, 2012)
Total: 13 /// Active: 13; ANG: 0; Reserve: 0 (as of September 30, 2013)

Defense Program

Aircraft Programs Missile Programs Space Programs Shipbuilding Programs Vehicle Programs

C-130 Hercules The C-130J Hercules The HC-130J Combat King II The MC-130J Commando II The KC-130J Hercules The AC-130H/U Spectre/Spooky