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Commandos Line Up on the Runway, Not the Kind You Think

Officially, the term “commando,” dating back to the 17th century, stands for a highly-specialized type of military unit (or soldier) that can conduct hit-and-run raids behind enemy positions. Generally, the term refers to people, but seeing how a particular airplane does pretty much the same thing, Lockheed Martin decided to use it for that.
MC-130J Commando IIs on elephant walk 7 photos
MC-130J Commando IIs on elephant walkMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flockMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flockMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flockMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flockMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flock
Enter the MC-130J Commando II, an airplane the U.S. Air Force (USAF) describes as one suitable to fly “clandestine, or low visibility, single or multiship, low-level infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces” missions.

It can be used to airdrop or airland supplies or hardware, and can even perform aerial refueling missions. 164,000 lbs (74 tons) of cargo can be carried to the needed destination by each of these planes, to distances as far as 3,000 miles (4,828 km, without aerial refueling), and as fast as 362 knots (417 mph/671 kph).

The kinds of missions it is used for means the Commando generally keeps a low profile while in enemy territory. Not the same can be said when it feels safe at home – then, it likes to show off with its friends.

We’ve already seen several MC-130J Commando IIs gang up together for a display of force, most recently in January, when they performed something called “flight of the flock” over Japan. And here are some again, this time involved in an elephant walk at Kadena Air Base in the same country.

In fact, these are the same planes as last time, deployed with the 1st Special Operations Squadron, a unit tasked with “infiltration, exfiltration and resupply for allied forces in austere environments.”

There are six planes seen here, but the larger training exercise they were part of back in January saw the unit deploy all the seven Commando airplanes they have in their possession for the first time together.

 
 
 
 
 

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