Flight of the Flock Scrambles All Seven 1st SOS MC-130J Commando at the Same Time

Militaries around the world have a tendency to get very creative when it comes to naming both training and combat missions. The history books are full of them, and so are the headlines of publications dealing with today’s military stuff. And this Flight of the Flock thing we’re here to discuss today is no exception.
1st SOS Flight of the Flock Kadena Air Base/Okinawa 7 photos
Photo: USAF
MC-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 flockMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flock
America’s armed forces, perhaps much more so than those of its adversaries, are constantly training. It does so both alone, and in cahoots with global allies, as it tries to maintain the upper hand in case of a serious conflict. Over in Japan, where the American presence has been quite robust ever since the end of the Second World War, there’s no shortage of training events, including some that may sound funny in name, and they’ve started already for this year.

One of the biggest such drills to be held there is called Flight of the Flock. Its first iteration just concluded earlier in January at the Kadena Air Base in the country and over the Okinawa coast, and another drill of this type is expected to take place later this year.

2023’s first Flight of the Flock involved several military units and installations, both Japanese and American, but were mostly centered around the 1st Special Operations Squadron (1st SOS). The unit is part of the 353 Special Operations Group, deployed at Kadena as the only U.S. Air Force (USAF) Special Operations Command unit in the Pacific.

1st SOS took advantage of the event and, for the first time, it deployed its entire fleet of seven MC-130J Commando IIs in a single exercise that involved everything from low altitude flying to formation flying, and specific missions – those would include training for “infiltration, exfiltration and resupply for allied forces in austere environments.“

The main tool of the 1st SOS is, as said, the Commando. The airplane was put together by Lockheed Martin, which introduced it in 2011 at the Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. The contract for the delivery of the airplane is still ongoing, with the USAF expecting to have a complete fleet of 57 units in 2025.

The plane is powered by four Rolls-Royce turboprop engines capable of delivering 4,591 shaft horsepower each. Its main mission is not the transport of soldiers and materials in plain sight, but rather in a stealthy manner right into hot zones.

To be able to do its dangerous job and allow its pilots to fly it in the dark (it mostly performs missions at night) or restricted air spaces, the plane comes with digital avionics, HUDs, defensive systems, refueling pods, you name it. Capable of penetrating hot zones located at a distance of up to 3,000 miles (4,828 km), the Commando can easily carry a 42,000 lb (19,000 kg) payload.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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