The EC-130H Compass Call is an airborne tactical weapon system using a heavily modified version of the C-130 Hercules airframe. The system disrupts enemy command and control communications and limits adversary coordination essential for enemy force management. The Compass Call system employs offensive counter-information and electronic attack (or EA) capabilities in support of U.S. and Coalition tactical air, surface, and special operations forces.
Planned upgrades will add the ability to attack early warning and acquisition radars. 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 four main U.S. electronic warfare aircraft, along with the Boeing EA-18 Growler, Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler, 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. The new Compass Call platform has been designated EC-X.
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.
Compass Call has been used in Kosovo, Haiti, Panama, Iraq, Serbia, 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.