EC-130J Commando Solo II
In a congressionally directed program, aging EC-130Es are being replaced with new C-130Js, with the current mission equipment being moved from the old aircraft to the new models. Four aircraft have been funded for delivery to the 193rd Special Operations Wing, Harrisburg, PA. The 193rd SOW now flies eight 1960s-vintage EC-130Es that are nearing the end of their planned service life. Funding for one additional aircraft was needed as of early 2000 to complete the unit's conversion and prevent leaving the unit with a mixed fleet of E and J model aircraft. The conversion program, as planned, will take four years to complete.
The first C-130J to be converted into a Commando Solo II psychological warfare aircraft was flown to Palmdale, CA in early July 2000. Technicians there carry out the task of converting them into the Commando Solo II platforms. Once modifications are completed, the first EC-130J was delivered for operational service in mid-2001. The remaining three C-130Js initially on contract for conversion were flown to Palmdale at six-month intervals.
The broadcast equipment carried on board the 193rd Special Operations Wing's 1963 and 1964-vintage EC-130Es is up to date and was cross decked into the new EC-130Js. The "green" C-130Js are modified for aerial refueling and receive an upgraded electrical system. After that, up-to-date radio and television broadcast equipment and antennas on the current EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft is cross-decked to the new EC-130Js.
The EC-130J Commando Solo II aircraft is able to conduct airborne radio and color television broadcasting on any frequency and in any format anywhere in the world. Broadcasts from the aircraft are carried out in areas of military or political unrest either to inform or influence both military and civilian personnel in the area.
An Air Force special operations analysis concluded in 2000 recommended the Boeing 767-200 to replace the EC-130E Commando Solo. The 767 is 60 percent longer and has more than twice the range of the EC-130E. But Congress currently is focusing on continued work on the EC-130J Commando Solo II.
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