New MC-130J
NEW COMBAT KING ARRIVES AT KIRTLAND: A new HC-130J Combat King II takes off from the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Ga., Sept. 29. The new aircraft was delivered to the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland AFB, N.M. (Lockheed Martin Photography by Thinh D. Nguyen)

by Stefan Bocchino
377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

12/1/2011 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- A new HC-130J Combat King II personnel recovery aircraft arrived Sept. 29 at Kirtland Air Force Base as the first of a fleet of seven HC/MC-130Js that will be assigned here over the next few years.

The HC-130J replaces the HC-130P/Ns as the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory. It has an extended range, and its mission is to rapidly deploy to execute recovery operations to austere airfields and denied territory for expeditionary, all-weather personnel recovery operations.

The aircraft was flown from Marietta, Ga., by Maj. Gen. Mark Solo, 19th Air Force commander, and Lt. Col. Nick Gismondi, commander of the recently re-activated 415th Special Operations Squadron here. During a ceremony commemorating the arrival of the aircraft, Col. James Cardoso, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, spoke to guests.

"The significance of this aircraft arriving here continues a tradition of excellence at the 58 SOW," Cardoso said. "It has state-of-the-art capabilities and will enhance our training and readiness."

Cardoso also spoke about how the aircraft would provide a modernized, long-term training environment and also help execute a comprehensive and synchronized training environment not only for the personnel recovery community, but also for the CV-22 and HH-60 crews during air refueling operations.

"Team Kirtland, most notably the 377th Air Base Wing, provides outstanding support in these absolutely crucial facets that enable flying wings to (safely) launch their aircraft night after night," Cardoso said. "Even as we celebrate the arrival of a new and incredible machine, we must never forget what makes New Mexico, Albuquerque, Kirtland and the 58th Special Operations Wing great is not the iron of the machine, but the iron of the people."

The enhancements in this aircraft include advanced multispectral sensors, modernized refueling systems, a fully functional combat systems operator crew station, enhanced cargo handling and a well-defined growth path to even greater combat capability, Gismondi said. The HC-130J is considered a completely different aircraft from previous versions, with a qualification process for aircrew taking about eight months.

"Team Kirtland will now employ these new aircraft to train mission-ready personnel recovery and special operations aircrews," Gismondi said. "These quieter, more fuel-efficient and reduced-emissions aircraft will be linked to a newly built state-of-the-art training environment, incorporating immersive computer-aided instructional methodology and aircraft simulators, all designed to provide agile and effective training operations to our warfighting customers."

The new HC-130J is the first of the new aircraft coming to the 58th SOW, Cardoso said. An MC-130J Combat Shadow II, the special operations version, arrived in early October. Two more aircraft are scheduled to arrive in 2012 and one each year until 2015, for a total of seven HC/MC-130Js.