At some point I thought about the MC-130J or KC-130J but at this years Paris Aie Show Lockheed pulled a nice rabbit out of it’s hat.
Enter the C-130J-SOF. This baby looks like designed for Poland. I think that Polish crews from 33rd Airlif Base in Powidz would be happy with such an upgrade from the C-130E granddaddies.
As we can reed in the press release:
The C-130J-SOF provides the capability to execute Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and psychological operations, airdrop resupply, personnel recovery, humanitarian relief, as well as infiltration, exfiltration and re-supply of SOF personnel.
That shure looks like a Swiss Knife to me. If you don’t have the funds to have a bunch of one-task aircraft having a one versatile machine is the way to go.
Further more we can read that:
With added special mission equipment options, the C-130J-SOF may also be configured for armed overwatch that includes a 30mm gun and Hellfire missiles, helicopter/fighter/vertical lift aerial refueling, and Forward Area Refueling Point (FARP) operations.
The whole roll-on roll-of concept is great and widely used and palatalized systems will become more and more popular as they give you flexibility in times when everything costs a lot of money. Having an option to turn a C-130 into an airborne over-watch station is really interesting. Of course it wont be as powerful as a dedicated gunship but to be honest 30mm and Hellfire’s are OK for Poland.
There is also the air-to-air refueling option and an a more an dmore popular and needed option to refuel other aircraft in austere locations.
Here comes the best part. The base price for a C-130J-SOF is supposed to be around 80 million so not much more than a bare bones C-130J transport version. Of course as it is with cars if you smack new gadgets inside than the cost goes up but modularity will allow to pick only the tolls you need for your job.
I will try to ask the crews in Powidz during my next visit to the base what they think about the new C-130J-SOF variant. Maybe they would still prefer the MC-130J or armed KC-130J. Who knows. For me it looks good. The question is what do the decision makers think and when will they decide about the new airlift option for Poland?