Fielded in 1992, the Rivet Rider variant of the Commando Solo electronic warfare support aircraft is a highly modified C-130 Hercules transport designed to serve as an airborne television and radio broadcasting platform. Flown exclusively by the 193rd Special Operations Wing (Pennsylvania Air National Guard), the EC-130E is capable of broadcasting in all AM, FM, HF, TV (Color/ B&W) and military communications bands in support of psychological warfare operations and civil affairs broadcast missions. Rivet Rider aircraft are capable of overriding local transmitters with their own message, thus ensuring message reception.
As an EW support aircraft, Commando Solo aircraft are tasked by the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) to broadcast specific messages to a designated target audience. These messages are prepared by the 4th and are specifically designed to meet requirements dictated by the U.S. State department or the Theater Area Commander. In addition to performing PSYOP operations, Commando Solo is capable of serving in a humanitarian aid and support capacity, broadcasting public service and emergency relief information. Because of the aircraft's transmitting capabilities, the EC-130E is also capable of serving in a limited capacity as an airborne command and control aircraft as well as an electronic warfare jamming platform.
Though based on the basic C-130H tactical cargo aircraft, the Commando Solo/Rivet Joint airframe has been heavily modified, both internally and externally.
The Rivet Rider aircraft is equipped with three large blade antennae, one each mounted vertically underneath outside edge of the wing and one incorporated into the leading edge of the aircraft vertical stabilizer. A fourth, X-shaped, antenna is incorporated into the vertical stabilizer. Outboard of the wing antennae are two large (6 foot diameter x 23 feet long) equipment pods. When conducting broadcasting operations the aircraft streams two flexible wire antennae; one trails out behind the aircraft and another is suspended from underneath the aircraft, held in a vertical position by a suspended 500 lb. weight. For self defense the EC-130E is equipped with on-board electronic warfare radar jamming equipment, a radar warning receiver, as well as electronic and infrared counter-measures dispensers.