In 2022, the Air Force Special Operations Command plans to test the amphibious MC-130J.
The chief of Air Force Special Operations announced Monday that the MC-130J Hercules transport aircraft’s amphibious capability will be tested in 2022.
Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command, told reporters at the annual Air Force Association’s Air Space and Cyber conference that the goal is to develop a “true amphibious” capability that can land on both sea and land, with a flying demonstration expected in late 2022.
Slife described the plan as a “experiment” to determine if it can be done, but said that if procurement and fielding go well, an MC-130J demonstration may happen in the next 15 months.
At a roundtable with reporters, Slife said, “It would really be with a single airplane to prove that we can actually validate the models that we’ve built, to validate the data that we’ve predicted through the digital engineering thread, and then to make some decisions about where we want to go in terms of fielding the capability more broadly.”
Although the concept of an amphibious C-130 cargo plane isn’t new, AFSOC suggested earlier this year that it was gathering traction.
According to a news statement issued by the AFSOC last week, the amphibious MC-130J would be better fitted for the shift in focus to coastal zones and seaborne special operations.
As the military turns its focus from Afghanistan and Iraq to the Pacific, an amphibious platform is needed to improve capabilities in the Indo-Pacific, according to Slife.
“Our global regional focus has clearly shifted,” Slife added, noting that the region is characterized by large bodies of water that must be considered.
“Rather than wholesale, clean-sheet acquisition initiatives, we need to look at innovative and novel ways to employ the reasonably modernized fleet we already have,” Slife added.
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