The Praetorian STARShip: The Untold Story of the Combat Talon
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL
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Jerry Thigpens study on the history of the Combat Talon is the first effort to tell the story of this wonderfully capable machine. This weapons system has performed virtually every imaginable tactical event in the spectrum of conflict and by any measure is the most versatile C-130 derivative ever produced. First modified and sent to Southeast Asia SEA in 1966 to replace theater unconventional warfare UW assets that were limited in both lift capability and speed the Talon I quickly adapted to theater UW tasking including infiltration and resupply and psychological warfare operations into North Vietnam. After spending four years in SEA and maturing into a highly respected UW weapons system the Joint Chief of Staff JCS chose the Combat Talon to lead the night low-level raid on the North Vietnamese prison camp at Son Tay. Despite the outcome of the operation the Talon I cemented its reputation as the weapons system of choice for long-range clandestine operations. In the period following the Vietnam War United States Air Force USAF special operations gradually lost its political and financial support which was graphically demonstrated in the failed Desert One mission into Iran. Thanks to congressional supporters like Earl Hutto of Florida and Dan Daniel of Virginia funds for aircraft upgrades and military construction projects materialized to meet the ever-increasing threat to our nation. Under the leadership of such committed hard-driven officers as Brenci Uttaro Ferkes Meller and Thigpen the crew force became the most disciplined in our Air Force. It was capable of penetrating hostile airspace at night in a low-level mountainous environment covertly to execute any number of unconventional warfare missions.