17th Special Operations Squadron begins upgrade to MC-130J

A MC-130J Commando II taxis on the flightline of Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 21, 2014. The MC-130J will replace the MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group’s 17th Special Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexy Saltekoff)

A MC-130J Commando II taxis on the flightline of Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 21, 2014. The MC-130J will replace the MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group’s 17th Special Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexy Saltekoff)

A MC-130J Commando II extends its landing gear above the flightline on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 21, 2014. The MC-130J will replace the MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group’s 17th Special Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexy Saltekoff)

A MC-130J Commando II extends its landing gear above the flightline on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 21, 2014. The MC-130J will replace the MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group’s 17th Special Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexy Saltekoff)

Airmen from the 353d Special Operations Maintenance Squadron discuss the new MC-130J Commando II as it taxis on the flightline of Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 21, 2014. The MC-130J is part of Air Force Special Operations Command’s fleet-wide C-130 recapitalization which began four years ago with the retirement of the MC-130E. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexy Saltekoff)

Airmen from the 353d Special Operations Maintenance Squadron discuss the new MC-130J Commando II as it taxis on the flightline of Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 21, 2014. The MC-130J is part of Air Force Special Operations Command’s fleet-wide C-130 recapitalization which began four years ago with the retirement of the MC-130E. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexy Saltekoff)

A MC-130J Commando II extends its landing gear above the flightline on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 21, 2014. The MC-130J will replace the MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group’s 17th Special Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexy Saltekoff)

A MC-130J Commando II extends its landing gear above the flightline on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 21, 2014. The MC-130J will replace the MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group’s 17th Special Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexy Saltekoff)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Kadena’s newest aircraft touched down here, Dec. 21, 2014, after a flight across the Pacific to its new home with the 353rd Special Operations Group.

The MC-130J Commando II is replacing the retiring MC-130P Combat Shadow assigned to the 353rd SOG’s 17th Special Operations Squadron.

“The Commando II represents a giant leap forward for specialized air mobility,” said Maj. Michael Perry, 17th SOS assistant operations officer. “The MC-130J can carry more, further and faster than any of its predecessors.”

Special operations began using the Combat Shadow in the mid-1980s, conducting air refueling missions during Operation Just Cause in Panama and in the 1990s during Operation Desert Storm.

Here in the Pacific region, the Combat Shadows have supported more than a dozen named operations, from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom to humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations.

“The MC-130J is part of Air Force Special Operations Command’s fleet-wide C-130 recapitalization,” said Maj. Matthew Bartlett, 17th SOS operations officer. The recapitalization began four years ago with the retirement of the MC-130E and continued with the AC-130H and MC-130P retirements. The AC-130U, AC-130W and MC-130H are all eventually scheduled to be replaced by C-130J aircraft.

“The J-model aircraft will be executing the same missions as their predecessors, said Bartlett. “The newer airframes, are cheaper to fly, more efficient, and require less manpower to operate.”

Perry said the technology sets new standards for safety and accuracy in executing their specialized airdrop, low-level, infiltration and exfiltration, and helicopter/tilt-rotor aerial refueling missions.

“We are all excited about the increased capability this brings to our SOF partners as we carry on the 17th SOS legacy of ‘No Mission Too Demanding,’ Perry said.”