The Lockheed Martin EC-130 series comprises several slightly different versions of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules that have been and continue to be operated by the U.S. Air Force and, until the 1990s, the U.S. Navy.
The EC-130E Commando Solo was an earlier version of a U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard psychological operations (PSYOPS) aircraft and this aircraft also employed a C-130E airframe, but was modified by using the mission electronic equipment from the retired EC-121S Coronet Solo aircraft. This airframe served during the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), Operation Uphold Democracy, the second Gulf War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and in Operation Enduring Freedom. The EC-130E was eventually replaced by the EC-130J Commando Solo and retired in 2006.
Based on a C-130H airframe, the EC-130H Compass Call is an airborne communications jamming platform operated by the Air Combat Command’s (ACC) 55th Electronic Combat Group (55 ECG) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona. The EC-130 Compass Call aircraft attempts to disrupt enemy command and control communications and limits adversary coordination essential for enemy force management. The Compass Call system employs offensive counterinformation and electronic attack capabilities in support of U.S. and Coalition tactical air, surface, and special operations forces. The EC-130H was used extensively in the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, disrupting Iraqi communications at both the strategic and tactical levels. It has also been used in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Inherent Resolve against the Islamic State.
The EC-130J Commando Solo is a modified C-130J 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-130J 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 Air National Guard, specifically the 193d Special Operations Wing (193 SOW), a unit of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard operationally gained by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The 193 SOW is based at the Harrisburg Air National Guard Base (former Olmstead AFB) at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
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. Operations were consolidated under a single-AFSOC gained unit, the 193d Special Operations Wing (193 SOW) of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. 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 built by Lockheed Martin beginning in 2003.
Highly specialized modifications have been made to the latest version of the EC-130J (Commando Solo III). Included in these mods are enhanced navigation systems, self-protection equipment, and the capability of broadcasting color television on a multitude of worldwide standards throughout 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.
The EC-130SJ Super J conducts special operations forces missions including military free fall, which includes both high altitude, low opening and high altitude, high opening missions. The aircraft also conducts joint precision aerial delivery system, container delivery system and pyschological operations leaflet drops.
|Crew||6+ (Pilot, CoPilot, combat systems officer, mission communications commander; loadmaster, five electronic communications systems operators)|
|Length||97 ft 9 in (29.8 m)|
|Wingspan||132 ft 7 in (40.4 m)|
|Height||38 ft 10 in (11.84 m)|
|Wing area||1,745 ft2 (162.1 m2)|
|Empty weight||101,000 lb (45,813 kg)|
|Max take off weight||155,000 lb (70,307 kg)|
|Power plant||4 × Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines, 4,591 shp (3,424 kW) each (de-rated from 4,637 shp (3,458 kW) at 25 °C (77 °F)|
|Cruise speed||348 kn (400 mph, 644 km/h) max. at 28,000 ft (8,534 m)|
|Combat radius||2,300 nmi (2,600 mi, 4,300 km)|
|Service ceiling||30,560 ft (9,310 m) at 147,000 lb (66,678 kg)|
|Rate of climb|
- United States Air Force – 7 EC-130J Commando Solo III.