Entered Air Force: June 1974.
Specifically, the modified aircraft prevents or degrades communications essential to command and control of weapon systems and other resources. The system primarily supports tactical air operations, but also can provide jamming support to ground forces and amphibious operations.
The EC-130 flies during either day or night scenarios with equal success, and is air refuelable. A typical mission consists of a single-ship orbit which is offset from the desired target audience. The targets may be either military or civilian personnel. Secondary missions include command and control communications countermeasures (C3CM) and limited intelligence gathering. The three variants are EC-130 ABCCC, EC-130E Commando Solo, and the EC-130H Compass Call.
Modifications to the aircraft include the primary mission equipment, an air refueling capability and associated navigation and communications systems. Compass Call has demonstrated its powerful effect on enemy command and control networks in military operations over Kosovo, Haiti, Panama, Iraq, Serbia and Afghanistan. The EC-130H aircraft carries a combat crew of 13 people. Four members are responsible for aircraft flight and navigation from the flight deck, while nine members operate and maintain the Compass Call primary mission equipment at the rear of the aircraft. The mission crew consists of an electronic warfare officer, who is the mission crew commander; an experienced cryptologic linguist is the mission crew supervisor; four analysis operators; one high band operator, one acquisition operator and an airborne maintenance technician. Compass Call integrates into tactical air operations at any level. The versatile and flexible nature of the aircraft and its crew enable the power of electronic combat to be brought to bear in virtually any combat situation.
The EC-130 was originally modified using the mission electronic equipment from the EC-121, known at the time as the Coronet Solo. Soon after the 193rd SOG received its EC-130s, the unit participated in the rescue of US citizens in Operation Urgent Fury, acting as an airborne radio station informing those people on Grenada of the US military action. Commando Solo was instrumental in the success of coordinated psychological operations in Operation Just Cause, again broadcasting continuously throughout the initial phases of the operation to help end the Noriega regime. Most recently, in 1994, Commando Solo was utilized to broadcast radio and television messages to the citizens and leaders of Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy.
The EC-130s deployed early in the operation, highlighting the importance of PSYOP in avoiding military and civilian casualties. President Aristide was featured on the broadcasts which contributed significantly to the orderly transition from military rule to democracy. In 1990 the EC-130 joined the newly formed Air Force Special Operations Command and has since been designated Commando Solo, with no change in mission. This one-of-a-kind aircraft is consistently improving its capabilities. The next few years should see continued enhancements to the EC-130 and its worldwide mission.