USAF HC-130J Combat King II makes operational debut in support of Operation Inherent Resolve

World Aviation Defense & Security News - United States
USAF HC-130J Combat King II makes operational debut in support of Operation Inherent Resolve
The USAF 71st Rescue Squadron deployed two HC-130J Combat King II aircraft for the first time Nov. 27. The HC-130Js, which deployed with more than 60 aircrew, support and maintenance personnel, bring a new set of capabilities to the airspace in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. During the deployment, the aircraft will be used for personnel recovery, ensuring U.S. personnel do not become isolated.
USAF HC 130J Combat King II makes operational debut in support of Operation Inherent Resolve 640 001
Airmen from the 71st Rescue Squadron secure cargo in the back of an HC-130J Combat King II Nov. 27, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The Airmen deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve
(Credit: USAF/Senior Airman Ryan Callaghan)

"It's the start of another era," said Lt. Col. Gary Symon, the 71st RQS director of operations. "We flew the P-model aircraft here for about 15 to 16 years, throughout multiple deployments, and now it's this new aircraft's turn."

Replacing the HC-130P/N model aircraft, the HC-130J features improved navigation, threat detection and countermeasure systems, among other additions. It has been at Moody since July 2013.

"The previous aircraft were built in the early 1960s," Symon said. "There's been significant technological improvement. They can fly faster, they can fly higher, they can carry more and they burn about 10 percent less fuel, so it's much more efficient. Additionally, this aircraft is capable of air-to-air refueling, provides heavy equipment airdrop and has improved sensors on it for personnel recovery."

Equally as important to the mission as having the best possible aircraft is having the people to support it, Symon said.

"They're trained and ready to go," he said. "Every single one of the individuals here has worked very hard over the last couple of months to get themselves combat-mission ready and prepared to go downrange and prove these capabilities."

Modifications to the HC-130J have improved navigation, threat detection and countermeasures systems. The aircraft fleet has a fully-integrated inertial navigation and global positioning systems, and night vision goggle, or NVG, compatible interior and exterior lighting. It also has forward-looking infrared, radar and missile warning receivers, chaff and flare dispensers, satellite and data-burst communications, and the ability to receive fuel inflight via a Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI).

The HC-130J can fly in the day; however, crews normally fly night at low to medium altitude levels in contested or sensitive environments, both over land or overwater. Crews use NVGs for tactical flight profiles to avoid detection to accomplish covert infiltration/exfiltration and transload operations. To enhance the probability of mission success and survivability near populated areas, crews employ tactics that include incorporating no external lighting or communications, and avoiding radar and weapons detection.

Drop zone objectives are done via personnel drops and equipment drops. Rescue bundles include illumination flares, marker smokes and rescue kits. Helicopter air-to-air refueling can be conducted at night, with blacked out communication with up to two simultaneous helicopters. Additionally, forward area refueling point operations can be executed to support a variety of joint and coalition partners.