Sierra Nevada moves ahead on secure mission-critical data communications on MC-130J Special Forces planes

Jan. 23, 2020
AbMN provides secure voice and data communications, friendly force identification, mission tracking, threat identification, and full-motion video.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – U.S. Air Force avionics experts are moving ahead with a project to equip a special operations version of the Lockheed Martin C-130J four-engine turboprop aircraft with secure mission-critical data communications.

Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., announced a $22.9 million order to Sierra Nevada Corp. in Sparks, Nev., last month for the MC-130J Airborne Mission Networking (AbMN) low-rate initial production. The order is for production kits, spare parts, and weapon system trainer.

The AbMN enables aircrew and mission personnel aboard MC-130J aircraft to send and receive mission-critical data to and from tactical and operational nodes in the battlespace.

Earlier in December 2019 Sierra Nevada won a $13.7 million order for an additional AbMN trial kit install, as well as travel and interim contractor support.

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AbMN capabilities include secure line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight voice and data communications, friendly force identification, mission tracking, threat identification, full-motion video, collaboration, chat, email, and data links.

AbMN enables Special Forces MC-130 aircraft to streamline command and control, improve situational awareness, and reduce operational risk through real time exchange of digital information among aircraft, components, and other tactical and operational nodes.

The special operations MC-130J Commando II aircraft flies clandestine, or low-visibility single or multiship low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft.

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The MC-130J also performs infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of Special Forces by air or by land inside of politically sensitive or hostile territories.

The MC-130J primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by airborne threats. Its secondary mission includes the airdrop of leaflets.

On this contract modification Sierra Nevada will do the work in Centennial, Colo., and should be finished by March 2021. For more information contact Sierra Nevada Corp. online at, or the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center-Robins at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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