Collins Aerospace to Develop Modernized Special Mission Processor for USSOCOM AC/MC-130J Fleet

Collins Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), is one of three companies selected by the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to develop a modernized Special Mission Processor (SMP) for its AC-130J Ghostrider/MC-130J Commando II aircraft fleet.

SMPs are the central processing component for hardware and software integration of the special operations forces (SOF) unique, tactical mission systems onto the AC/MC-130J aircraft.

The MC-130J aircraft performs clandestine, low-level air refueling, airdrop, insertion/extraction, and resupply missions. The AC-130J performs airborne precision engagement and close air support missions. Both aircraft perform missions over politically-sensitive or hostile territory at night, and under adverse weather conditions.

Collins Aerospace’s new SMP prototype will address obsolescence and provide additional capabilities and processing power across the AC/MC-130J aircraft fleet. The new prototype, designed with the company’s mature mission computing technologies, will also have built-in compatibility with COTS and third-party software products to easily accommodate new functionalities as needed.

“We’re driving our innovation and investments to ensure our military aircraft are meeting the needs of the warfighter by providing them with a solution that delivers the power they need now and the functionality they’ll need in the future,” said Dave Schreck vice president and general manager for Military Avionics and Helicopters at Collins Aerospace. “We’ve listened to the needs of our customers and are developing the premier solution to match the speed at which upgrades are currently needed.”

Collins Aerospace is on track to deliver its first prototype next spring with a product selection by USSOCOM expected in the Summer of 2020.

MC-130J Commando II

The MC-130J Commando II is a multimission combat transport/special operations tanker operated by the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). It is a variant of Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter.

It flies clandestine, or low visibility, single or multiship, low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, and infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces (SOF) by airdrop or airland intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories.

The MC-130J primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by airborne threats. Its secondary mission includes the airdrop of leaflets as part of psychological warfare.

The MC-130J is replacing the aging SOF fleet of 37 MC-130E Combat Talon I and MC-130P Combat Shadow tankers.

Lockheed Martin MC-130J Commando II
Colonel Hoffman, the Group Commander for the 27th Special Operations Group, ferries MC-130J 5770 from Marietta on Thursday, August 27, 2015. Lockheed Martin Photography by Andrew McMurtrie

AC-130J Ghostrider

The AC-130J Ghostrider is the heavily armed, long-endurance gunship variant of Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules tactical airlifter.

The aircraft is armed with the Precision Strike Package (PSP) with 30mm and 105mm cannons and Standoff Precision Guided Munitions (i.e. GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and AGM-176 Griffin missile)

The AC-130J Ghostrider’s primary missions are close air support (CAS), air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. Close air support missions include troops in contact, convoy escort and point air defense. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity and include strike coordination and reconnaissance and overwatch mission sets. The AC-130J will provide ground forces an expeditionary, direct-fire platform that is persistent, ideally suited for urban operations and delivers precision low-yield munitions against ground targets.

The AC-130J is the fourth generation gunship replacing the aging fleet of AC-130U “Spooky”/AC-130W Stinger II gunships.

Lockheed Martin AC-130J Ghostrider
U.S. Air Force’s Lockheed Martin AC-130J Ghostrider gunship.

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