Lockheed EC-130H Compass Call

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EC-130H Compass Call
EC-130H 41st EWS taking off Davis-Monthan AFB (cropped).jpg
An EC-130H Compass Call departs Davis-Monthan AFB
Role Electronic warfare (EW), Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), offensive counter-information
Manufacturer Lockheed (airframe)
BAE Systems (prime mission equipment)
L3 Communications (aircraft integration and depot maintenance)
Introduction April 1982
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 14 (USAF)
Unit cost
$165 million

The EC-130H Compass Call is an electronic attack aircraft flown by the United States Air Force. Based on the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules, the aircraft is heavily modified to disrupt enemy command and control communications, perform offensive counterinformation operations, and do other kinds of electronic attack. Planned upgrades will add the ability to attack early warning and acquisition radars.[1] Based at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona, EC-130Hs can be deployed worldwide at short notice to support U.S. and allied tactical air, surface, and special operations forces.

The EC-130H is one of the three main U.S. electronic warfare aircraft, along with the Boeing EA-18 Growler, and F-16CJ Fighting Falcon, all of which can suppress enemy air defenses while jamming communications, radar, and command-and-control targets.

In September 2017, the Air Force announced that L3 Technologies will serve as the lead systems integrator for a future Compass Call aircraft based on the Gulfstream 550 business jet.[2] The new Compass Call platform has been designated EC-X.[3]


The EC-130H fleet is composed of a mix of state-of-the-art baseline aircraft.



The EC-130H aircraft carries a combat crew of 13 people. Four members handle aircraft flight and navigation (aircraft commander, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer), while nine members operate and employ the EA mission equipment permanently integrated in the cargo/mission compartment. The mission crew includes the mission crew commander (electronic warfare officer), weapon system officer (electronic warfare officer), mission crew supervisor (an experienced cryptologic linguist), four analysis operators (linguists), one acquisition operator and an airborne maintenance technician.[4]

Operational history[edit]

Compass Call has been used in Yugoslavia, Haiti, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

From 2002 to 2015, EC-130Hs participating in Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan and Operation Freedom's Sentinel flew over 40,000 hours during 6,900 combat sorties.[5]


United States Air Force

Specifications (EC-130H)[edit]

Data from Air Force Link: EC-130H Compass Call[4]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 13
  • Length: 97 ft, 9 in (29.3 m)
  • Wingspan: 132 ft, 7 in (39.7 m)
  • Height: 38 ft, 3 in (11.4 m)
  • Wing area: ft² (m²)
  • Empty weight: 101,000 lb (45,813 kg)
  • Useful load: lb (kg)
  • Loaded weight: lb (kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 155,000 lb (69,750 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Allison T56-A-15 turboprop, 4,591 hp (kW) each


See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ "EC-130H COMPASS CALL > Air Combat Command > Display". Air Combat Command, Public Affairs Office. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  2. ^ Insinna, Valerie (2017-09-08). "L3 gets Compass Call contract, names Gulfstream as airframe provider". Defense News. Sightline Media Group.
  3. ^ Host, Pat (2017-09-14). "US Air Force awards L3 Technologies Compass Call replacement UCA". Jane's International Defence Review.
  4. ^ a b "Factsheets : EC-130H Compass Call". United States Air Force. 5 November 2010. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  5. ^ Wickman, Tony (11 September 2015). "41st EECS Scorpions defend the force with Compass Call". U.S. Air Forces Central Command. Retrieved 25 July 2016.

External links[edit]