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Pennsylvania Air Guard Gets New Special Ops Aircraft

  • Published
  • By Capt. Susan Penning,
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 193rd Special Operations Wing accepted a new MC-130J Commando II military aircraft during a July 27 ceremony.

The 193rd SOW is the first — and currently the only — ANG unit to receive the MC-130J Commando II mission, a core, flagship mission of Air Force Special Operations Command. 

According to military officials, the aircraft’s capabilities put the 193rd SOW — one of the most deployed wings in the National Guard — at the forefront of the battlespace to meet today’s special operation needs.

The ceremony featured prominent guest speakers, including Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, AFSOC commander; Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, ANG director; Brig. Gen. Michael Regan, Pennsylvania National Guard deputy adjutant general – air; Col. Edward Fink, 193rd SOW commander; and Bill Bassett, Lockheed Martin director of special missions programs. Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, the adjutant general of Pennsylvania, also attended.

“Today is a great day for Pennsylvania, our Air Force and the 193rd Special Operations Wing,” Regan said. “But an aircraft is just an aircraft until our highly trained Airmen climb in. That’s what turns it into a weapons system. This is the right time and the right place for this mission.”

The MC-130J Commando II flies clandestine single or multi-ship, low-level infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces and air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft. 

The MC-130J primarily flies missions at night. Its secondary mission includes the airdrop of leaflets.

“The 193rd Special Operations Wing is poised to make history … again,” Bauernfeind said. “I’m confident this wing will continue to be the vanguard of our freedom anytime, anywhere.”

The 193rd SOW commemorated the sunset of its previous EC-130J Commando Solo mission with a final broadcast during the Community Days Air Show event in Lancaster last year. Wing leaders say personnel have been training on the new mission ever since. “This new mission represents the next chapter in this wing’s proud legacy,” Fink said.

The wing’s former EC-130J Commando Solo mission focused on information operations via broadcasts on FM, TV and military communications bands. Although effective in the past, it may no longer be how an intended audience gets its messaging. Based on the wing’s seven EC-130 aircraft being “J” models with relatively low flight hours, all seven aircraft are being retained as C-130s and distributed to other major commands and joint partners.

Wing officials said the transition to the MC-130J Commando II mission should result in a net neutral change in aircraft and personnel.