The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a famous military transport aircraft that has a powerful gunship version, the AC-130, which made its appearance in 1966.
Currently, the United States Air Force (USAF) has in service the armed version of the C-130J Super Hercules: the AC-130J Ghostrider. The development of this version began in 2011 on 16 MC-130J Combat Shadow II special operations aircraft. The first AC-130J was delivered in 2015, and the last of them was received by the USAF in November 2022, totaling 31 units.
These aircraft are part of the USAF Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and are divided into three Special Operations Squadrons: the 4th and 7th, both based at Hurlburt Field (Florida) and the 17th, based at Cannon AFB (New Mexico). As their name indicates, the mission of these squadrons is to support the special operations groups of the USSOCOM (United States Special Operations Command).
These planes carry a crew of nine people (pilots and weapon systems operators) and are equipped with a 105mm cannon and a 30mm machine gun on the port side of its fuselage. In addition, they have weapon racks under their wings in which they can carry GBU-39 SDB guided bombs, GBU-69 loitering munitions, and AGM-114 Hellfire and AGM-176 Griffin missiles.
A few days ago, the AC-130J Ghostrider was deployed for the first time in South Korea to take part in the Teak Knife exercise, during which the US aircraft was able to demonstrate all its firepower by destroying an islet South Korean used as a target for military exercises. You can see here the impressive video of the exercise published by Korea Defense Blog:
In the video we can see that this AC-130J Ghostrider was equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles under its port wing.
Here we can see an image of the launch of one of those missiles.
Under its starboard wing, the AC-130J Ghostrider carried GBU-39 SDB bombs. Here we see the moment of its release. These bombs deploy small wings that guide them towards their target. They can be guided by laser, infrared or radar.
Here we see the shots from the 30 mm cannon. In the video you can see the impacts on the islet.
Main photo: AFSOC.
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