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EC-130E Commando Solo / Rivet Rider

The EC-130E Commando Solo (initially known as Volant Solo) is available to commanders for localized targeting of specific avenues of communication. The EC-130E exists in Comfy Levi and Rivet Rider versions. Senior Hunter aircraft flying the SENIOR SCOUT mission support Commando Solo aircraft. A multi-purpose asset capable of conducting both PSYOP and EW, the EC-130E, Commando Solo, is an airborne platform "primarily designed for PSYOP." Commando Solo can conduct psychological broadcast missions in the standard AM, FM, HF, TV and military communications bands. Missions in Bosnia were flown at maximum altitudes possible to ensure optimum propagation patterns. Highly specialized modifications had been made to the latest version of the EC-130E. These included 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.

This weapon system is the mainstay information operations aircraft for peacekeeping and peacemaking operations and humanitarian efforts which comprise a large percentage of today's military missions. Commando Solo conducts psychological operations 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-130 flies 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. Secondary missions include command and control communications countermeasures (C3CM) and limited intelligence gathering.

With the capability to control the electronic spectrum of radio, television, and military communication bands in a focused area, the Commando Solo aircraft can prepare the battlefield through psychological operations and civil affairs broadcasts. These modified C-130Es provide broadcasting capabilities primarily for psychological operations missions; support disaster relief operations; and perform communications jamming in military spectrum and intelligence gathering. One oversized blade antenna is under each wing with a third extending forward from the vertical fin. A retractable wire antenna is released from the modified beavertail, with a second extending from the belly and held vertical by a 500 pound weight.

Capabilities include:

  • Reception, analysis, and transmission of various electronic signals to exploit electromagnetic spectrum for maximum battlefield advantage
  • Secondary capabilities include jamming, deception, and manipulation techniques
  • Unrefueled range 2800 NM
  • Broadcasts in frequency spectrums including AM/FM radio, short-wave, television, and military command, control and communications channels

Rivet Rider modification includes:

  • VHF and UHF Worldwide format color TV
  • Infrared countermeasures [chaff/flare dispensers plus infrared jammers]
  • Vertical trailing wire antenna
  • Fire suppressant foam in fuel tank
  • Radar warning receiver
  • Self-contained navigation system

The modification added a pair of underwing pylon mounted 23X6 foot equipment pods, along with X-antennae mounted on both sides of the vertical fin. Six aircraft have been modified to the Rivet Rider configuration by the contractor, Lockheed Martin; Ontario, California.

Commando Solo and Senior Scout operations may be long or short range missions with extended orbit delays planned at the aircraft operating ceiling, and may require one or multiple air refuelings. Some missions may require a combat profile, with a low altitude profile enroute to the mission orbit area. The electronic environment may be hostile, with enemy ability to jam all communications radios and electronic transmission systems; to intercept and use intelligence information transmitted over nonsecure electronic systems and radios; and to pinpoint the position of the aircraft emitting any electronic transmission or signal.

Commando Solo supported the operation JOINT GUARD mission by shutting down anti-SFOR propaganda through radio and TV broadcasts over Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of SFOR operations. Three Air National Guard EC130E Commando Solo aircraft were deployed from the 193rd Special Operations Wing in Harrisburg, PA, to a base in Italy, an hour flight across the Adriatic Sea from Sarajevo. This was a direct response to persistent hostile Bosnian-Serb radio and television propaganda from the Karadzic faction. This same wing flew missions into Haiti during Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY to broadcast messages under the call sign of Radio Democracy on one AM band and three FM bands.

Operating from Brindisi, Italy, the Commando Solo EC-130Es were equipped with high-power transmitters for TV, AM, and FM radio broadcasting. The plane's EW capabilities also allowed it to operate as a jamming device. In this mode, Commando Solo had the potential to jam Bosnian-Serb hard-liners' television and radio broadcasts or simply overpower their signal and replace propaganda with PSYOP programs. When used to broadcast programming over the adversary signal, the aircraft is performing a PSYOP function. The aircraft executed three test flights over Bosnia-Herzegovina in September, testing radio broadcasting equipment as a non-violent "show of force" by SFOR.

The show of force was in response to inflammatory anti-NATO and anti-SFOR propaganda broadcasted by Serbian Radio Television (SRT). SFOR had forcibly secured SRT transmitter towers in September 1997, returning them to SRT control after securing written assurances that the propaganda would stop, that more even-handed reporting would follow, and that international programming on the progress of the peace operation would be aired. The SFOR commander warned that failure to follow through on these promises would result in decisive action by SFOR. Commando Solo gave SFOR the non-lethal means of quickly neutralizing SRT transmissions in the case of non-compliance. The Commando Solo successfully relayed broadcast programs from the SFOR radio station "MIR" (Peace) without disruptions.

In mid-October 1997, unidentified elements inside the Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Serpska or RS) sabotaged television transmitters, taking the legal government's programming off the air in much of the eastern part of the RS. The pro-Karadzic faction resorted to propaganda to claim that the lack of normal programming was due to the "illegal" actions of the Stabilization Force. Shortly afterwards, SFOR used Commando Solo in a live mission to transmit on a frequency normally used by Bosnian Serb TV, actively countering the adversary propaganda by explaining that the absence of normal programming was due to the actions of the Bosnian-Serb leadership.



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