Commando Solo

It’s Craig, back from an unwelcome absence!  Brad threatened to stop the LOGPACs, so I’ve got to post something!

How about this bird with all the antennas?

FIG 20 Sept 08 282
EC-130E Commando Solo II

This static display at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania is a EC-130E “Commando Solo II.”  Although this “Herc” was put out to pasture in 2006, it’s replacement, the EC-130J has recently appeared in the news supporting Operation Odyssey Dawn (or is it Already Done?).

The Commando Solo is the Air Force’s specialty PSYOPS platform.  The concept dates back to the Vietnam War when the Navy operated NC-121J Super Constellations to rebroadcast TV and radio transmissions in theater.

Project "Jenny" NC-121J Blue Eagle

In between broadcasts of the World Series and I Love Lucy, someone figured out the “bad guys” were also tuning in.  So a PSYOPS slant began to emerge.   The Navy got out of the re-broadcast business by 1970, handing it over to the USAF under the code name “Coronet Solo,” using the similar EC-121S Super Constellation.  The 193rd Tactical Electronic Warfare Group, of the Pennsylvania National Guard, flew the “Connies.”  Vietnam rotations carried the code name “Commando Buzz.”  By 1978, the Air Force replaced the old piston-powered “Connies” with a small batch of EC-130Es.  The EC-130Es operated as “Volant Solo” and the PSYOPS mission came to the fore.  The 193rd became a Special Operations Group (and later a Special Operations Wing), participating in Grenada and Panama.  Just before Desert Storm, the EC-130s became “Commando Solo.”  Upgrades produced the “Commando Solo II” and finally the current variant “Commando Solo III.”

FIG 20 Sept 08 289
Tail Antenna on EC-130E

The EC-130E carries equipment to broadcast on practically every radio and TV frequency.  The crew plays out long wire trailing antenna in flight for some missions, necessitating large blocks of airspace clearance.

The last of the EC-130Es retired in 2006, with the example seen here making the last flight into Muir Army Airfield to become a static display at Fort Indiantown Gap.

Final Pass
Last Landing of the EC-130E

Replacing “Commando Solo II” were all new EC-130J “Commando Solo III” in the Super Hercules airframe.

Commando Solo: Impacting the hearts and minds
EC-130J Commando Solo III

Same mission but with those cool six-bladed props.

Airpower Summary
EC-130J on the Taxi-way

The “Commando Solo” birds have flown ops over Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq in recent years. And then on March 20 of this year, the EC-130Js orbited off the coast of Libya broadcasting, “Libyan ships or vessels do not leave port, the Gaddafi regime forces are violating a United Nations resolution ordering the end to the hostilities in your country. If you attempt to leave port, you will be attacked and destroyed immediately. For your own safety do not leave port.

Flare Shot
Flares from an EC-130J

A far cry from those 1960s top 40 pop songs, you think?