With the outlook for the Pacific War, the US military is thinking about how to expand its amphibious operations.
These challenges have renewed US military interest in the old concept of amphibious aircraft.
Air Force Special Operations Command is currently planning to rapidly develop an amphibious prototype of its flagship MC-130J.
With growing tensions with China, the U.S. military is looking for ways to spread throughout the Pacific to counter it. Beijing’s growing navy and missile arsenal..
Especially the U.S. Air Force Trying to disband aircraft and airmen, And special operators of service are now in a hurry to equip their flagship planes to operate on land and water.
Air Force Special Operations Command announced this week that it will implement rapid prototyping efforts to enhance the MC-130J’s “runway independence and expeditionary capabilities” by developing a “removable amphibious float modification”. Did.
A variant of the MC-130 has supported US military operations since the 1960s. MC-130J The latest version, the backbone of AFSOC’s fixed-wing unit..
The $ 114 million aircraft is equipped with an advanced navigation and radar system that allows it to operate in unfriendly areas, but the MC-130J Commando II amphibious function is at sea, as its efforts are called. And makes it possible to support operations in coastal areas. according to To AFSOC.
MAC “allows the Air Force not only to increase placement and access for infiltration, spillage, and personnel recovery, but also to provide enhanced logistical capabilities,” AFSOC science said. Said Lieutenant Colonel Josh Transom, Deputy Director of Systems, Technology, and Innovation. At release.
Maritime operations will provide an “almost unlimited” place for landing, increasing the reach and survival of the MC-130J and the units that use it, Transom said.
AFSOC works with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Strategic Development Plans and Experiments Bureau and private sector. The command plans to use a five-phase rapid prototyping schedule that will allow a demonstration of operational capabilities in 17 months.
Representatives from AFSOC and the private sector have already tested prototypes in Digital Proving Ground, a virtual configuration that includes virtual reality modeling and computer-aided design. It “paves the way” for more digital simulation and testing, and advanced manufacturing use. The release said.
This effort is also intended to “mitigate the risk” of concepts that may be used in future programs to give the MC-130J or other C-130 variants amphibious capability. increase.
The last US seaplane was commissioned by the US Coast Guard in 1983, 16 years after the Navy retired the last seaplane.Amphibious aircraft Played an important role in World War IIHowever, technological advances during the Cold War have reduced their value.
However, in recent years there has been increasing interest in amphibious aircraft. Several countries, including Russia and Japan, are still operating them, and China’s development of the world’s largest seaplane, the AG600, is steadily progressing.
China Made a large investment in a fleet of military airlifts Timothy Heath, a senior international defense researcher at RAND Corporation, told insiders earlier this year that the AG600 offers “niche but important features” to support long-haul operations.
“Amphibious aircraft can be used to reach areas that are otherwise difficult to reach, even if you are stuck at sea or need to connect to some ship at sea without a runway. We can support you, “said Heath.
China is expected to use the AG600 for operations such as search and rescue, transportation, and firefighting. It will be especially useful in the South China Sea, Support operations around island bases China built there.
AFSOC staff Said Amphibious aircraft will be a valuable capability in an era of competition between great powers, and Transom reiterated that view with its release.
“MAC will be available to sister services, allies and partners,” Transom said. “Along with other innovative tools, it will pose a more complex dilemma for strategic competitors on the battlefield in the future. “.
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