$580M for Special Forces MC-130Hs
The Boeing Company has received a $134 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to begin the first phase of a program to modify 10 C-130 aircraft into the MC-130H Combat Talon II configuration. This first-phase contract is for delivery of two aircraft. A follow-on production phase with an estimated value of $446 million will deliver the remaining eight aircraft. Deliveries of the new Combat Talon IIs will begin in July 2008 and continue through the end of 2011. Lockheed Martin and L-3 Communications will be awarded subcontracts to support the Boeing team in the development and modification effort.
The MC-130H are specially modified to perform their missions and are equipped with avionics and systems that normal C-130 Hercules do not have. Features include an integrated “glass flight deck” which improves crew coordination, terrain-following/ terrain-avoidance radars capable of operations as low as 250 feet in adverse weather conditions, An extensive electronic warfare suite designed to counter both radar and infrared-guided threats, an in-flight refueling equipment, terrain-following, a GPS navigation system, and a high-speed aerial delivery system.
The initial plans were that the MC-130H Combat Talon II would replace the MC-130E Combat Talon I, but demand for their capabilities is so great that these plans were cancelled and now both types fly missions. This MC-130H conversion program is being carried out in addition to the $97 million Integrated Modification Support for Special Operation Forces/Combat Search and Rescue (SOF/CSAR) contract, which covers modifications to the MC-130E, H, and P versions.
N.B. Boeing is also producing 4 more AC-130U Spectre gunships for Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) under a separate contract. The first of these planes will be delivered in 2006, and Boeing provides comprehensive support services to the AFSOC C-130 fleet under the Integrated Weapons System Support contract.