by Senior Airman Divine Cox
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
3/17/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea-- -- Members
of the 353rd Special Operations Group from Kadena Air Base, Japan,
visited Kunsan Air Base in support of Exercise Gryphon Knife March 3.
During Gryphon Knife, Airmen stationed out of Kadena AB 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 ROK partners.
In December 2014, the first MC-130J arrived at the 353rd Special
Operations Group at Kadena, 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," Bartlett
said. "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
"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."