March 17, 2015 (by SrA Divine Cox) - Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group visited Kunsan Air Base in support of Exercise Gryphon Knife March 3, 2015.
Two MC-130J Commando II’s #12-5761 & #12-5762 from 17 SOS prepare to leave Kunsan AB during Exercise Gryphon Knife on March, 2, 2015. During Gryphon Knife, Airmen stationed out of Kadena AB, came to the ROK to support the objectives and learn the mission of Special Operations Command Korea. [USAF photo by SrA Divine Cox]
During Gryphon Knife, Airmen stationed out of Kadena Air Base, Japan, came to the Republic of Korea to support the objectives and learn the mission of Special Operations Command Korea, and how the new MC-130J Commando will fit into operating with Republic of Korea partners.
In December 2014, the first MC-130J arrived at the 353rd Special Operations Group at Kadena AB, replacing the retiring MC-130P Combat Shadows assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron.
The MC-130J Commando II multi-mission combat transport/special operations tanker, assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), delivers increased combat performance to the warfighter with its more powerful engines and unique features.
"The future for us looks pretty bright," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Tanner, 353rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron MC-130J crew chief. "We have a lot of contingency exercises and plans in the future that will go a lot smoother using this new aircraft."
The Commando II primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by airborne threats. Its secondary mission includes troop drops and airdrops.
"This is a very unique mission," said Lt. Col. Matthew Bartlett, 17th Special Operations Squadron director of operations. "Primarily since our aircraft is new, and our crew is new to operating both in the pacific as well as operating in Korea, we wanted to familiarize ourselves with operating in the Korean peninsula as well as familiarize ourselves with our customers we supported for this mission."
The MC-130J crew conducted specialized training while on mission here to the ROK.
"One of our missions was to conduct night vision low levels," said Bartlett. "The mountainous terrain in Korea made that pretty challenging, so you have to do quite a bit of planning for that type of mission."
The Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group are really excited about getting to fly and familiarize themselves with the new MC-130J Commando II.
"The increased range and reliability of this aircraft is amazing," said Master Sgt. Justin Solis, 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron production superintendent. "Not only does the MC-130 make our job easier, but every Airman involved can operate more efficiently."