The Air Force’s four remaining in-service MC-130E special-mission airplanes flew their final sorties last week from their home at Duke Field, Fla., before retirement, announced base officials. The four Combat Talon Is, assigned to Air Force Reserve Command’s 919th Special Operations Wing, took off from Duke on April 15 with more than 40 of the wing’s airmen abroad, according to Duke’s April 18 release. “This is an emotional and historic day for the airmen of the 919th Special Operations Wing,” said Col. Andy Comtois, wing commander. “We will miss these great warbirds,” he added. On April 25, the wing is scheduled to hold a retirement ceremony for the MC-130Es; at a later point, they will fly to the Air Force’s aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and enter retirement, according to the release. The wing is transitioning to the Aviation Foreign Internal Defense mission and will operate the C-145A light-cargo and passenger platform. The MC-130E made its first for the Air Force in 1966 and has taken part in every major US conflict since, states the release. (Duke report by TSgt. Samuel King Jr.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.