Amphibious version of C-130J aircraft in the works for the U.S. Air Force, built using VR and AI modelingNews
September 27, 2021
U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND -- HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) -- together with the Air Force Research Lab's Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (AFRL-SDPE) directorate -- is currently developing a variant of the venerable C-130J "Super Hercules" aircraft: an MC-130J Commando II Amphibious Capability (MAC) to improve the platform's support of seaborne special operations.
Lt. Col. Josh Trantham, AFSOC Science, Systems, Technology, & Innovation (SST&I) Deputy Division Chief, said in a press release about the MAC: "This capability allows the Air Force to increase placement and access for infiltration, exfiltration, and personnel recovery, as well as providing enhanced logistical capabilities for future competition and conflict."
Such a removable amphibious float modification for an MC-130J would enable operations where there is not a viable aircraft runway, Trantham stated. "Seaborne operations offer nearly unlimited water landing zones, providing significant flexibility for the Joint Force," Trantham said.
According to information in the Air Force press release, the AFSOC is working with a team of industrial partners and plans on a five-phase rapid prototyping schedule that aims to demonstrate operational capability in just 17 months. The accelerated development plans are in motion partly due to what the AFSOC calls the Digital Proving Ground (DPG), a virtual setting that uses digital design, virtual reality (VR) modeling, and computer-aided design for simulating and testing prototypes. The DPG also enables the teams to accomplish advanced manufacturing for rapid prototyping, further accelerating the testing phase of the prototypes.
Lt. Col. Trantham added, "We believe MAC will be able to be used by our sister services, allies, and partners on various C-130 platforms. Further, expanding the operational use of an amphibious aircraft alongside other innovative tools will provide even more complex dilemmas in future battlespaces for our strategic competitors."