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U.S. SOCOM Wants an Amphibious Cargo Aircraft

U.S. SOCOM Wants an Amphibious Cargo Aircraft

During the SOF WEEK 2024 conference, the U.S. Special Operations Command presented a concept for amphibious MC-130J cargo aircraft. According to a report by Breaking Defense, the development of an MC-130J variant capable of both land and water takeoffs and landings is currently on hold due to significant technical and budgetary challenges. An idea for amphibious cargo aircraft intended for special forces use has been brought up occasionally, but the plans have been put on hold for the same reasons. The U.S. is making an effort to shift the focus towards systems that can operate in the Pacific. Alongside the highly mobile strike assets like the PrSM SRBM, increased transport capability in the region is also on the table. The idea to develop an amphibious MC-130J cargo aircraft stems from intentions to deploy special forces and equipment quickly and unpredictably on shores or islands. Another amphibious cargo aircraft project on the table is DARPA’s Liberty Lifter, intended to transport armoured vehicles, personnel, and supplies in the range of hundreds of tonnes. Liberty Lifter is projected as an aircraft primarily operating on ground effect for high lifting efficiency, much like the short-lived Soviet ekranoplans, but also capable of flying at low altitudes upon need.

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