Special Operation Command Europe’s transitioning from the Combat Shadow to the MC-130J Commando II.
The departure of the last MC-130P Combat Shadow, tail number 66-0215, from its home base at RAF Mildenhall, UK, on Feb. 3, marked the final step of the convertion of the 352nd Special Operations Group to the new MC-130J Commando II.
While flown as a routine training mission, the last sortie brought the plane on a final farewell flight to all those fields that the 67th SOS was stationed at in the UK including RAF Sculthorpe, RAF Prestwick, RAF Woodbridge and RAF Alconbury.
Noteworthy, during the farewell flight the MC-130P performed an aerial refueling (AAR) with one of the 352nd SOG’s newest aircraft, a CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft from the 7th Special Operations Squadron.
Since the mid-1980s, the Combat Shadow took part on a wide variety of special operations across the world, including AAR, precision airdrop of personnel and equipment; and the execution of night, long-range, transportation and resupply of military forces.
Since Vietnam, the Combat Shadow has deployed for Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Operation Deny Flight in Yugoslavia, Operations Restore Democracy and Uphold Democracy in Haiti, Operations Deliberate Force and Joint Endeavor in Bosnia, Operation Assured Response in Liberia, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn in Iraq and Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya.
The first of a reported 12 MC-130J’s arrived on Jun. 7, 2013 to replace the 67th SOS (Special Operations Squadron) aging fleets of MC-130E and P tankers.
The 67th SOS primary roles are Air refuelling of SOF helicopter/tilt rotor aircraft, infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of SOF by airdrop and land.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
The 67th SOS is not, nor do I believe, has it ever flown the MC-130E which is the Talon I aircraft. The 7th SOS flies only the MC-130H Talon II. There was 1 C-130E “Frankenherc” flown by 67th as a logistic bird and trainer because it was air refuelable and more available due to maintenance issues with both the Shadows and Talon II of the 352d SOG.