From Dan M. Schill,
Tinker AFB, OK
OC-ALC/Office of History
 The concept of an airborne communication wing was born in the corridors of the Pentagon on 03 July 1963 when Rear Adm Bernard F. Roeder, USN, gave the order to "Take Charge And Move Out". In a traditional military manner, Lt Jerry 0. Tuttle, who received the order, wrote in his notebook the acronym TACAMO which has carried on to this day. This project was based on the concept of a survivable airborne communications link between the National Command Authority and deployed nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
 Originally TACAMO was considered a temporary fix until a hardened shore-based system could be developed to communicate with the ballistic missile submarine fleet. However, due to the accuracy of Soviet missiles against fixed geographical locations, the "temporary fix" became a long-term solution. Within 18 months after the initial order was given to determine the feasibility of an airborne Very Low Frequency (VLF) communications system, the first operational TACAMO aircraft was delivered.
 A Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" (149806, see the following article by Harry S. Gann) was initially used to test the electronics and in 1964 four Lockheed EC-130Gs were delivered with two aircraft going to VR-21 TACAMO Component, Naval Air Station (NAS) Barbers Point, Hawaii and two planes to VR-1 TACAMO Component, NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. At this stage the communications equipment consisted of roll-on/roll-off removable vans that could be installed within hours.  
 On 1 January 1966, the VR-21 component was transferred to Agana, Guam.
 The TACAMO program was expanded with the addition of eight EC-130Q aircraft with the communications equipment permanently installed in the aircraft.
 After equipment modification and testing of the airborne VLF communication techniques, Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadrons THREE and FOUR, VQ-3 Naval Air Facility (NAF) Agana, Guam and VQ-4 Patuxent River, respectively, were commissioned on 1 July 1968.
 During the years following the formal commissioning, the TACAMO aircraft continued to receive modifications such as a dual trailing wire antenna system, a high-speed reel system, a message processor system, extended range fuel tanks, wing top antenna pods for satellite communcations and Electromagnetic Pulse hardening.
 The VQ-3 squadron In Guam soon became know as the "Ironman Squadron" and was tasked with maintaining at least one aircraft airborne 50 percent of day.
 In 1981 this squadron moved (back)to Barbers Point, Hawaii and soon it was tasked with providing airborne coverage on an around-the-clock basis.
 This coverage was essential in order to eliminate the possibility of a Soviet submarine missile attack catching all the aircraft on the ground and leaving the United States without a survivable communications link to its submarines.
 The TACAMO program had undergone constant improvements since its inception as a VLF Strategic Communications Program.
 The TACAMO I system was developed and installed in one C-130F aircraft.
 The TACAMO II system consisted of three self-contained vans which could be installed in the EC-130G aircraft in approximately five hours.
 The TACAMO III system improvements included an antenna more than five miles long which trailed the aircraft and 25 kilowatts of VLF transmitting power which were permanently installed in the aircraft.
 With the TACAMO IV system the aircraft became an airborne communication center with more than 200 kilowatts of power transmitted through a dual trailing wire antenna system.
The prototype EC-130 (149806) 806 started life as a tanker but was selected to be configured as a prototype TACAMO aircraft.
During this interval, the in-flight tanking equipment was removed from the airframe and new equipment was installed to aid the R & D for the intended submarine message relay mission of the TACAMO aircraft. At the completion of this test program, it was decided that it would be uneconomical to return the aircraft to its initial configuration.
From Bob Daley:
The 11 EC-130's at ASI/DMI belong to an outfit called Airplane Sales International and are stored at the yard outside AMARC.
They look pretty sad. One is said to be in good shape.
From the Willie Victor Roster:
???? - ??? - 1966 TACAMOPAC assigned to VW-1; fly's the EC-130G.
Mission: Airborne VLF communications.
(Became VQ-3, "The IRONMAN Squadron" on 1 July 1968)
From the US Navy Historical Aircraft web page:
In 1965 the Navy procured a number of C-130G's to provide support to Polaris submarines and the exchange of their crews. Essentially the same as the F model, these aircraft have increased structural strength, allowing higher gross weight operation.
All models feature crew and cargo compartment pressurization, single-point refueling and a Doppler navigation system.
One other model, the EC-130Q, served in two VQ squadrons. This version had a permanently installed VLF radio transmitter system used to supplement shore based communications facilities and acted as strategic communications aircraft, communicating with ballistic-missile submarines, under the TACAMO program.
I must give credit where credit is due!
Bob Daley's (  list of US Navy EC-130G/Q "TACAMO" aircraft is where it all started.
Thanks Bob!!
The Blue Angels Alumni Association
Len and Judie Mozey, Webmasters (
The GO!NAVY website
Takafumi Hiroe, Webmaster (
The U.S. Navy TACAMO Survivors Veterans Association
Michael Vos, Webmaster (
Webmaster  (
Joe Baughers US Military BUNO / SERIAL NUMBER listing
James L. Crowder, Chief of the History Office for OC-ALC