Monday, September 21, 2009

The Harvest of Hot Steel

The USMC is pressing forward with arming their KC-130J tanker aircraft with recent test flights of a kit known as the "Harvest Hawk". This kit adds an ISR and targeting capability mounted on one wing with a set of Hellfire missiles mounted on the other. This gives them some teeth along with persistent ISR.

The kit when installed does not affect the aircrafts ability to carry out its primary tanker mission. The ISR ball is installed in the after section of the massive pod/faring on the left wing. This pod carries one of the two refueling hose and drogue assemblies and the EO/IR gear is installed into this pod. A Targeting Sight System is installed into the cargo compartment of the aircraft. The carriage rack for the Hellfire missiles are mounted on the right wing.
I have circled the ISR Ball. This is a USMC Photo of a VX-20 Test aircraft. VX-20 flies out of NAS Patuxent River Maryland and is the home of Developmental Testing for the US Navy and USMC for a variety of aircraft including the P-3, P-8, E-2, E-8 and the KC-130's.

Plans are to 12 of the C-130J's the marines fly after flight testing is complete which should happen quickly. The Marine Corps Times reports that a prototype aircraft will be flying overhead in Afghanistan in November. This is a very smart thing to do; the KC-130's the Marines fly are busy in the sky's over the AF hauling equipment and personnel within that large country. They also provide fuel to the many Marine CH-53 and Army AH-47 helicopters. I am sure they will pass gas to the V-22 once it gets into the fight as well.

Boring holes in the sky will be a lot less boring with this Harvest Hawk kit and future plans call for the addition of a 30mm Bushmaster cannon in addition to the Hellfire kit. That is some serious teeth that I am sure the Marines are dying to try out on the scene in the AF.

Bully for them. I'd pack some of them MOAB BLU-82's on each aircraft too, you know just for fun in making big holes in the earth.

Read more here.

Killing Tango's should not be constrained.

BT: Jimmy T sends.


Buck said...

Killing Tango's should not be constrained.

But the current reality is not so, unless and until the ROEs return to something resembling reality. Those C-130 mods are pretty cool and appear to be remarkably cost-effective. The trick will be getting authorization to pull the trigger, if and when they're deployed to the Af.

JimmyT said...

Buck, that is the rub here 'taint it. It is too bad they can't just unleash but in this kinder gentler ROE that gear may just be for show.

BT: Jimmy T sends.