Sea Hercules C.6 (SC-130J-30) - Country: United Kingdom
Could we add a new hypothetical unit to the database please?
It is for the UK-specific proposal for an SC-130J Sea Hercules which, although not the favourite to win, was a serious option prior to the UK selecting the P-8A Poseidon.
This hypothetical aircraft is particularly interesting because it is not simply an Orion-in-a-Hercules solution as per the generic version being pitched globally.
Instead, using an expanded version of the palletised, Ro-Ro, Merlin Cerberus system, it would have been capable of both ASW and the Crowsnest's ASaC role - a unique platform trading the high altitude ASW (HAASW) capability of the P-8A with its long-range HAAWC torpedos for something a little more "British" in lower altitude surveillance, ELINT and hunting.
A backdrop to the proposal included the UK's decision to life-extend their C.6 fleet in the SDSR 2015 review. This decision part-reversed the planned fleet retirement and further fuelled speculation that there was a way in for an expanded "Ro-Ro" Hercules fleet, incorporating the Sea Herc.
The SC-130J proposal from LM was based on modifying 10 existing RAF stretched C-130J-30's before 2020, so the C.6 (#4374) may be the closest aircraft to base this on. In addition to the aircraft crews, training and support infrastructure already existed entirely in the UK leading to a rapid stand-up time predicted for a squadron.
The common aircraft modifications proposed included:
- Lengthened sponsons holding a pair of weapons bays and extended fuel tanks. Models shown at conferences suggest a 4-6 Torpedo capacity, up to 3 per bay. In RAF service these would most likely be Stingray [sic] Mod 1's (#1596).
- An MX-20HD turret on the chin (Closest match in the database is the AN/ASX-4 Sensor Group #3017)
- A Radome on the belly for 360 degree unrestricted view housing an AESA, though the Searchwater 2000 (#5539) used on the Crowsnest is a good match and a plausible selection
The existing outer wing pylons with dual strongbacks would be retained. Possible stores on the pylons include
- 4 x Harpoon - Explicitly mentioned by LM as part of the pitch, likely AGM-84L Harpoon II (#816) given the timelines)
- 6 x Brimstone 2 (#3035) - Speculative: 8 x Hellfire 2 was frequently discussed by commentators as already demonstrated on the similar KC-130J, however the UK is integrating the 2 x 3 rail launched indigenous weapon on several platforms.
- 2 x Storm Shadow (#957) - Speculative: Purely based on 4 pictured on the Nimrod MRA.4, reprinted in the press at the time of Sea Hercules proposal, and speculation at the time. Unsure if the strongbacks can support a dual load per pylon.
- 4 x JSM (#2885) - Speculative: Based on this weeks announcement that Kongsberg will integrate JSM onto the P-8A ahead of the Norwegian purchase, with significant UK interest due to sharing P-8A and F-35A/B platforms. Lighter missile can be supported in pairs by the strongback pylons.
The mission systems and stores proposed were all expanded, palletised, Roll-on, Roll-off equipment from the Merlin HM.2 and Crowsnest program (ASW and ASaC/AEW functions).
- ESM explicitly mentioned by LM. Merlin uses Orange Reaper #2900.
- An optional MAD was pitched.
- For sonobuoys, a rotary door ejector was listed and the Hercules carrying capacity mentioned as an advantage over the P-8A. It is more likely that full A-sized sonobuoys would have been used than the smaller versions carried by helicopters (#2549, #2541 and #2505 are from the MRA.4 record, although UK company ULTRA also manufactures the P-8A sonobuoys for the USN #1939, #2482 and #2496)
- Comms/Datalinks are as per C.6, but the pallets introduce Link-16, Ku Satcom, INMARSAT and WBDL.
Given the above, Loadouts would likely have been:
- Cargo and Passengers as per baseline C.6 as the Palletised Ro-Ro system was explicitly advertised as not changing these capabilities.
- Maritime Surveillance
- 6 x Stingray, Sonobouys (ASW)
- 6 x Stingray, 4 x Harpoon II, Sonobouys (Sea Control)
- 6 x Stingray, 4 x JSM, Sonobouys (Sea Control)
- 6 x Stingray, 6 x Brimstone, Sonobouys (Littoral Sea Control)
- 2 x Storm Shadow (Stand Off Land Strike)
- 4 x JSM (Long Range ASuW Strike, land attack capability)
- Pallet change times for the advanced roles were variously stated, 30 minute pallet load + 15 minute power-checks given for the pallets for example. Though I imagine weapon loads could take longer on top of that?
"Merlin Cerberus" SC-130J materials for further reading:
A video covering the basics:
"Generic" SC-130J materials for an aircraft based on P-3C systems for further reading:
EDIT: MAD was later announced as an option.
< Message edited by Kynth -- 2/2/2017 11:11:59 AM >