Lockheed Martin delivered Air Force Special Operations Command’s 12th new-build MC-130J Commando II tanker airplane to Cannon AFB, N.M., this week, announced the company. Aircraft 5710 left Lockheed Martin’s production plant in Marietta, Ga., bound for Cannon on Dec. 10, according to the company’s release. Lockheed Martin is currently on contract to supply 27 MC-130Js, but the Air Force’s overall plan is to acquire 85 MC-130Js, 16 of which are slated to undergo post-production conversion to the new AC-130J gunship configuration. Commando II aircraft will carry out roles such as in-flight refueling of other special operations airplanes, inserting and extracting special operations forces, and resupplying them.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.