This MC-130J Commando Is So Big We Bet You Missed the Humans Dangling Out Its Rear

MC-130J Commando II over New Zealand 8 photos
Photo: USAF/Capt. Joshua Thompson
MC-130J Commando II over New ZealandMC-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
When I first set eyes on this photo, released last week by the U.S. Air Force, my mind was immediately flooded by images of planes flying in formation over the vast rain forests of Vietnam during the dreadful war there so many years ago. Only those are not Vietnam-era aircraft, and that’s not Vietnam below.
What you’re looking at is, in fact, a peace-time training mission, more specifically a dissimilar formation flight conducted as part of exercise Teak Net 22, which took place over New Zealand in mid-May. By dissimilar formation we mean a flight involving several types of aircraft – in this case, a C-130H Hercules deployed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 40 Squadron, and two MC-130J Commando IIs assigned to the USAF 353rd Special Operations Wing.

One of those two Commandos brings up the rear of the formation in this photo, and it’s so big it kind of covers the entire landscape. So big, in fact, we’re pretty sure you at first missed the three humans dangling their legs over the rear, open ramp of the airplane.

The Commando was introduced as a variant of the C-130 in 2011. It draws power from four Rolls-Royce turboprop engines that pull it through the air at speeds of 417 mph (671 kph), for as much as 3,000 miles (4,828 km) on a single outing.

The thing has a length of over 97 feet (29 meters), and a wingspan of 132 feet (almost 40 meters). Described by the Air Force as perfect for “clandestine, or low visibility, single or multiship, low-level infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces,” the plane can weigh as much as 164,000 lbs (74,400 kg) at takeoff.

The USAF is using the Commandos to replace the MC-130E. By 2025, 57 of them are planned to be in operation.
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Editor's note: Gallery also shows other Commandos.

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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