EC-130J Commando Solo
Published August 19, 2010
The EC-130J Commando Solo, a specially-modified four-engine Hercules transport, conducts information operations, psychological operations and civil affairs broadcasts in AM, FM, HF, TV and military communications bands. A typical mission consists of a single-ship orbit offset from the desired target audience - either military or civilian personnel.
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.
The Air Force Special Operations Command's 193rd Special Operations Wing, Middletown, Pa., has total responsibility for the Commando Solo and Commando Solo Super J missions.
Many modifications have been made to the aircraft. These include enhanced navigation systems, self-protection equipment, air refueling and the capability of broadcasting analog radio and analog color TV on all worldwide standards.
The airborne radio and television broadcast mission originated in the mid-1960s with the EC-121 (known as Coronet Solo). The mission later transitioned to the EC-130E (1980) and eventually to the EC-130J and Super J (2004). Soon after the 193rd SOW received EC-130s, the Air National Guard unit participated in the rescue of American citizens in Operation Urgent Fury in 1983. Then known as Volant Solo, the aircraft acted as an airborne radio station, keeping the citizens of Grenada informed about the U.S. military action. Several years later in 1989, Volant Solo was instrumental in the success of coordinated psychological operations in Operation Just Cause. During this mission it broadcast throughout the initial phases of the operation, helping to end the Noriega regime.
In 1990, the 193rd joined the newly formed Air Force Special Operations Command, and the wing's aircraft were redesignated Commando Solo, with no change in mission. In 1990-91, Commando Solo was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Turkey in support of operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Its missions included broadcasting the "Voice of the Gulf" and other highly successful programs intended to convince Iraqi soldiers to surrender.
In 1994, Commando Solo was used to broadcast radio and TV messages to the citizens and leaders of Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was featured in these broadcasts, which contributed to the orderly transition from military rule to democracy.
Continuing its tradition, in 1997 the 193rd SOW and Commando Solo supported the United Nations' Operation Joint Guard with radio and TV broadcasts over Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of stabilization forces operations. In 1998, the unit and its aircraft participated in Operation Desert Thunder, a deployment to Southwest Asia to convince Iraq to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions. The Commando Solo was again sent into action in 1999 in support of Operation Allied Force. The aircraft was tasked to broadcast radio and television into Kosovo to prevent ethnic cleansing and assist in the expulsion of the Serbs from the region. In 2001, the Commando Solo aircraft broadcasted messages to the local Afghan population and Taliban soldiers during Operation Enduring Freedom.
In 2003, the Commando Solo was deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit has also deployed in 2005, 2007 and 2009 to the Middle East in support of overseas contingency operations.
Primary Function: Psychological operations and information operations
Contractor: Lockheed Aircraft Co.
Power Plant: AE2100D3 six-blade turboprops
Thrust: 6,000 shaft horsepower each engine
Wingspan: 132.6 feet (40.3 meters)
Length: 97.75 feet (29.7 meters)
Height: 38.8 feet (11.8 meters)
Cruise speed: 335 mph
Ceiling: 28,000 feet (8,534 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 164,000 pounds (74,390 kilograms)
Range: 2,300 nautical miles unrefueled
Crew: Pilot, copilot, flight systems officer, mission systems officer; two loadmasters and five electronic communications systems operators
Initial operating capability: 1980
Unit Cost: EC-130J, approximately $110 million;
EC-130SJ Super J, approximately $85 million
Inventory: EC-130J, Active force, 0; Reserve, 0; ANG, 3
EC-130SJ Super J, Active force, 0; Reserve, 0; ANG, 4