The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is considering the design and development of an amphibious MC-130 aircraft to support operational requirements in the age of ‘Great Power Competition’ (GPC), service officials have disclosed.
The MAC amphibious MC-130J concept revealed at the SOFEC 2021 event. (USSOCOM via Andrew White)
Addressing delegates at the virtual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) on 19 May, the Program Executive Officer for Fixed Wing, Colonel Ken Kuebler, suggested the MC-130 Amphibious Capability (MAC) concept could allow the aircraft to “land and take off” from land and sea during the same mission.
Kuebler was unable to provide Janes with a projected timeline for the effort. However, USSOCOM’s Fixed Wing Technology Insertion Roadmap, which was illustrated at the event, referred to a 2022–25 timeframe for the MAC.
Lockheed Martin’s MC-130 Commando II aircraft is operated by the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and tasked with “clandestine, or low-visibility, single or multiship, low-level infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces”. According to AFSOC documents, the aircraft is ideally suited to operating in “politically sensitive or hostile territories”.
Referring to the historic consideration by the US Department of Defense to design an amphibious C-130 aircraft, Kuebler suggested there was “enough command interest” at USSOCOM to pursue the MAC concept today.
“There is enough of a focus on peer and near-peer as we look at emerging threats. Is it going to be cost effective? That’s why we have several lines of effort early on and there will be plenty of off-ramp [opportunities] along the way to determine if we move forward,” he said.