MC-130 J name change promotes modern missions, preserves heritage

The MC-130J Combat Shadow II is marshaled into place at Cannon Air Force Base, Sept. 29, 2011. The MC-130J is the newest variant of the C-130J Super Hercules four-engine turboprop aircraft.  / © U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xavier Lockley

The MC-130J Combat Shadow II is marshaled into place at Cannon Air Force Base, Sept. 29, 2011. The MC-130J is the newest variant of the C-130J Super Hercules four-engine turboprop aircraft. / © U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xavier Lockley

Posted By Philip Stevens

Officials announced at HURLBURT FIELD, Fla on March 9 a popular name change for the MC130-J that honors the Air Commando legacy and capitalizes on the versatility of the aircraft. "Air Force Special Operation Command MC-130 Js will be equipped to fly various missions and will be called Commando II," said Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, AFSOC commander, in the memorandum requesting the change. "This name best reflects the multimission role of the aircraft and the units that will fly them."

Commando II flies 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 intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories, according to the official Air Force factsheet.

The aircraft name previously was Combat Shadow II. Alternate names considered included Combat Knife and Combat Arrow. The process for requesting the popular name change began in September of 2011, said Don Purvis, AFSOC logistics management specialist. The memorandum from the AFSOC commander was sent to the asset identification flight at Air Force Material Command headquarters.

From that point a review was conducted by several agencies including Air Force Judge Advocate General and Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, Purvis said. A popular name, according to the joint service Air Force Instruction 16-401(I), "characterize aerospace vehicle missions and aid communications and media references."

"This is one of the first name changes we approved," said Keven Corbeil, Defense Department popular name control point in the flight. "I think 'Commando' had historical significance for AFSOC."

In addition to reflecting the current missions of AFSOC, the name change honors the legacy of the C-46, the original Commando. According to the AFSOC commander's memorandum, the new name "embodies the broader linage of special operations force aircraft."The C-46 was used extensively during the Cold War and Korean War by various government agencies, said Herb Mason, AFSOC historian. It doubled the payload and range of the C-47, which it replaced. Just like it's descendent, the original Commando performed a variety of missions. The C-46 was most famous for its operations in the Far East. The Commando was a workhorse in 'flying the hump' (over the Himalayan Mountains),

transporting desperately needed supplies from bases in India and Burma to troops

in China. A variety of transports had been employed in the effort, but only the C-46 was able to handle the adverse conditions, according to an executive staff summary sheet for the popular name change request.

Commando II replaces the aging special operations forces fleet of 37 MC-130E and P tankers. The first aircraft arrived at Cannon Air Force Sept. 29, 2011.

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