It’s the end of an era—and the beginning of a new one—for one Pennsylvania Air National Guard unit.
The 193rd Special Operations Wing, based in Middletown, Pa., announced it will transition out of its psychological operations role and move to special operations airlift.
The 193rd has flown the Lockheed Martin EC-130J Command Solo since 2001; it is a highly modified variant of the C-130 Hercules troop transport aircraft. The EC-130J can transmit public affairs broadcasts at high altitudes through a variety of communications channels, including AM/FM radio, high frequency radio and television.
The aircraft is noticeably unique for the large antenna pods on its outer wings and tail.
Only seven EC-130Js are in service—all operated by the 193rd—making it one of the rarest aircraft types in the Air Force.
That fleet, however, will soon disappear as the 193rd will transition to the MC-130J Commando II, another variant of the legacy C-130. The MC-130J flies clandestine, all-weather missions including infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces. It is also capable of “probe-and-drogue” air-to-air refueling via two wingtip-mounted pods.
No official date has been set for the 193rd to transition to its new aircraft and role. In the meantime, catch those EC-130Js while you can; Connor Ochs took this photo of one landing at Harrisburg International Airport.
As the EC-130J fleet cruises into the sunset, Angela Grieb flew through one—literally. We are full of jealousy seeing the spectacular shot Angela captured through the window while on a Southwest flight in January 2018.
Thanks, Connor and Angela!
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A fading sunset seen from the window of a Southwest flight on January 8, 2018. (Photo submitted by Angela Grieb)