Combat Talon

We covered the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment a while back. But sometimes you need something more.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on America, it was clear the next battlefield would be Afghanistan. But there was a surpising lack of intelligence about the Taliban and Al Queda in the area. The decision was made to conduct a raid by the 75th Ranger Regiment to gather intelligence and attempt to secure prisoners for interogation. How to get them into Afghanistan? That’s where the Air Forces Special Operations Wing comes in. Operating highly modified C-130s designed to penetrate deep into enemy held territory, and known as Combat Talons, the Air Force Spec Op guys flew into Afghanistan and dropped the Rangers onto an airfield. Extraction was later made by Air Force Special Operations helicopters operating from a secret base in Pakistan. When you see the Combat Talons dropping long strings of paratroops in night vision, that’s the raid I’m talking about.


Combat Talon has been around for quite a while. In the early days, an awful lot of work was put into improving the C-130s already impressive short field landing and take off performance. This clip shows the results of some testing, and why the project was dropped.


Update: Outlaw 13, our Apache pilot correspondent, informs us that the second clip was a specially modified MC-130 being tested for the aborted raid on Tehran that came to be known as Desert One.  The idea was to land in downtown Tehran. After the testing, a new plan had to be devised. I’ll poke around, but I suspect that may have had something to do with the decision to use the Navy’s RH-53s and refuel them in the desert.

11 thoughts on “Combat Talon”

  1. The bottom video was of a C-130 that they modified during the Iranian hostage crisis. The goal was to land the 130 inside a soccer stadium next to the embassy. Needless to say, it didn’t work too well.

  2. Yup, what steve said. I’m not sure, but from what I’ve heard some of the same USAF Herk SpecOps guys were involved in both operations.

  3. Yeah, now I go back and look at it on wiki, etc.

    I’m feeling a little bruised (my own fault of course) because I just wanted to throw the first one up there and the second was to good to skip. Haste makes waste.

  4. You’ll notice they weren’t JATO bottles, but the rockets off ASROC missiles. Seems they got it to work once or twice, but the risks were too high to justify it. I can’t imagine it was easy to see with 8 huge rockets spewing fire and smoke out front.

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