The MC-130E Combat Talon I provide infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces and equipment in hostile or denied territory. Secondary missions include psychological operations and helicopter air refueling

The aircraft featured terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radars capable of operations as low as 250 feet in adverse weather conditions. Structural changes to a basic C-130 include the addition of an in-flight refueling receptacle, and strengthening of the tail to allow high speed/low-signature airdrop. Their navigation suites include dual ring-laser gyros, mission computers and integrated global positioning system. They can locate, and either land or airdrop on small, unmarked zones with pinpoint accuracy day or night.

An extensive electronic warfare suite enables the aircrew to detect and avoid potential threats. If engaged, the system will protect the aircraft from both radar and infrared-guided threats.

The MC-130E is equipped with aerial refueling pods to provide in-flight refueling of special operations forces and combat search and rescue helicopters.

The primary difference between the MC-130E and MC-130H involves the degree of integration of the mission computers and avionics suite. The Combat Talon I was conceived originally and developed during the 1960s, and although extensively upgraded in the 1980-90s it still features analog instrumentation and does not fully integrate the sensors and communications suites. The Combat Talon II, designed in the 1980s, features an integrated glass flight deck which improves crew coordination and reduces the crew complement by two.

The MC-130E Combat Talon first flew in 1966 and saw extensive service in Southeast Asia, including the attempted rescue of Americans held at the Son Tay prisoner-of-war camp in 1970. Also, the MC-130E landed in the Iranian desert in April 1980 in support of Operation Eagle Claw, the attempt to rescue American hostages held by Iran.

The MC-130E saw combat in Grenada in 1983, delivering U.S. Army Rangers to Point Salinas Airfield in the opening moments of Operation Urgent Fury, and subsequently performing psychological operations leaflet drops. In 1989 they led the joint task force for Operation Just Cause in Panama, helping to seize the airfield at Rio Hato.

In 1990, MC-130Es were employed in Operation Desert Storm, where they dropped 11 BLU-82 15,000-pound bombs and more than 23 million leaflets in a highly effective effort to encourage Iraqi soldiers to surrender. They also conducted numerous aerial refuelings of special operations helicopters with combat search and rescue operations.

More recently, the aircraft has been used extensively in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in a variety of roles.

General Characteristics
Primary Function: Infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces
Contractor: Lockheed
Power Plant: Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines
Thrust: 4,910 shaft horsepower each engine
Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)
MC-130E: 100 feet, 10 inches (30.7 meters)
Height: 38 feet, 6 inches (11.7 meters)
Speed: 300 mph
MC-130E: 53 troops, 26 paratroopers
Ceiling: 33,000 feet (10,000 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight:155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)
Range: 2,700 nautical miles (4,344 kilometers); Inflight refueling extends this to unlimited range
MC-130E: Two pilots, two navigators and an electronic warfare officer (officers); flight engineer, radio operator and two loadmasters (enlisted)
Date Deployed: MC-130E, 1966; MC-130H, June 1991
Unit Cost: MC-130E, $75 million; MC-130H, $155 million (fiscal 2001 constant dollars)
Inventory: Active force, MC-130H, 20; Reserve, MC-130E, 10; ANG, 0