The Air Force points out that the C-130J is versatile to beat the band, but it also directed our attention to the fact that while it’s been put on skis before and even landed on an aircraft carrier, it can’t land on water, which it also points out covers 71% of the surface of the planet. The implication being, to be truly versatile, the Herc needs to have floats! The Air Force, specifically its Special Operations Command, is on it, as it seeks to develop “new approaches to expand the multi-mission platform’s runway independence and expeditionary capacity.”
So, in concert with the Air Force’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation directorate, it’s working on the floats, which “allows the Air Force to increase placement and access for infiltration, exfiltration, and personnel recovery, as well as providing enhanced logistical capabilities for future competition and conflict.” In non-DoD speak, that means it could land all over the place, and that would be good.
While the artist’s rendition, courtesy of the Air Force, looks pretty futuristic, the Special Ops Command says it might have a test prototype ready to fly in less than a year-and-a-half, though the use of a rapid prototyping process, with the goal to make other variants, and not just the J-model, good candidates for float duty, as well. We’ll keep you updated.