US Special Forces Seek Amphibious Transport Plane For Pacific Combat
The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) explores options for transforming Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft into an amphibious plane that would support operations in the Indo-Pacific area as great power competition between China continues to gain steam, according to military intelligence website Janes.
USSOCOM revealed the interest in Lockheed’s MC-130J Commando II fitted with floats during a presentation at the virtual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference on Wednesday.
USSOCOM wants the MC-130J Amphibious Capability, or MAC, to operate from water and traditional land-based runways. An artist rendering of the concept plane is shown below.
MAC’s Program Executive Officer, Colonel Ken Kuebler, suggested during the virtual conference that the new plane could “land and take off” from land and sea during the same mission.
USSOCOM’s Fixed Wing Technology Insertion Roadmap, which was illustrated at the event, said a timeline of the plane’s development and when it could operate would be between 2022–25.
Kuebler suggested there was “enough command interest” at USSOCOM to pursue building the MAC.
“There is enough of a focus on peer and near-peer as we look at emerging threats. Is it going to be cost effective? That’s why we have several lines of effort early on and there will be plenty of off-ramp [opportunities] along the way to determine if we move forward,” he said.
USSOCOM is focusing on the great power competition in the Indo-Pacific region against China. The importance of an amphibious transport plane for special forces is imperative if conflict breaks out.
According to the foreign policy and national security website “War On Th Rocks,” the US currently operates zero military seaplanes. Japan and Russia operate a small number of seaplanes, but China has unveiled the largest and most modern operational seaplane, the AG-600.
In a great power competition, one that is underway in the Pacific, the US is in desperate need of seaplanes if conflict breaks out because it currently has none.
Fri, 05/21/2021 – 21:00