You Can Forget About Mega Yachts, We Want This MC-130J Commando II on Water Skis

MC-130 Commando II 6 photos
Photo: United States Navy
MC-130 Commando IIMC-130 Commando IIMC-130 Commando IIMC-130 Commando IIMC-130 Commando II
We love flying boats around here, and we've showcased a fair amount of them here before. Be it civilian private puddle jumpers like the Republic Seabee, a huge Forrest fire killer in the Martin JRM Mars, and so much more. We've seen just about everything.
But we think we have something for you here that trumps all of them. We think there's nothing else out there with wings and floats that can come close to the levels of effortless cool that the latest Lockheed Martin MC-130J proposal to incorporate removable floats possesses. But as for the C-130 itself, it really needs no introduction. 

The Hercules has done it all. We're talking cargo transport, personnel and vehicle transport, aerial, gunship, special ops service, scientific and weather analysis, air-to-air refueling, and even a couple of occasions moonlighting as a strategic bomber. 

In this role, the C-130 Hercules was used to deliver the 9,800-kilogram (21,600 lb) Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) conventional WMD. A bomb with as much punch as a whole squadron of WWII bombers. A device of this nature was unable to be accurately deployed from faster purpose-built strategic bombers like the B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit.

So then, there really isn't much the C-130  and subsequent MC-130J Commando II hasn't done. Except for floating on the water, that is. But that may very soon be about to change. In 2021, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) announced a task force of yet unannounced collaborators had been assembled to allow future MC-130 Commando IIs to join the PBY Catalina and Grumman Albatross on the water.

MC\-130 Commando II
Photo: United States Navy
With a check for funding secured from the Pentagon, this task force estimates their MC-130 flying boat concept could be in the testing phase as soon as a year and a half from their announcement. A stunning turnaround time in military aerospace terms. We can see the F-35 JSF team seething with jealousy. That would bring its first flight to sometime around the end of 2022. So that's definitely something to look forward to.

With four shiny new Rolls-Royce turboprop engines cranking out over 4,000 horsepower each, there's more than enough power on hand to get the Commando II in and out of the water safely. For some historical context, the Douglas C-47 Skytrain also had a floatplane variant during the Second World War. Try as we might find evidence of some water-based calamity in one of those, we couldn't find one. So imagine what you can do with four times the power?

Seeing as China and Russia have made a routine out of building military flying boats over the last 40 years, it's clear to see the incentive the U.S. has to counter with a seaplane of their own. A luxury the Navy hasn't utilized since the Grumman Albatross retired at the tail end of the 20th century. 

But unlike Russia and China, which had to build bespoke airframes for all their seaplanes, the U.S. is in the perfect position to have very similar capabilities without dropping hundreds of millions on an entirely new airframe. Better still, the proposed water floatation device will be 100% removable. Admittedly, that does make it murky whether the Super Commando with added floaties qualifies as a true seaplane. 

MC\-130 Commando II
Photo: United States Navy
But let's be real, people who browbeat you over the lingo you use to describe an airplane on the water that isn't sinking are no fun to be around. What matters is that the U.S. Navy will soon have a swiss-army multitool airplane that's just as adept at takeoff and landing from the open ocean as it is from an aircraft carrier or even a ground-based airstrip. Whenever the concept is ready to fly, it's best to believe you'll hear about it right here on autoevolution. 
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