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Air Force On The New AC-130 Gunship: ‘That's The Sound America Makes When She's Angry’
The AC-130J Ghostrider ground-attack aircraft has picked up several different unofficial moinikers in the five years the Air Force Special Operations Command maniacs at Hurlburt Field have spent slapping guns on the thing: “The most advanced gunship in the inventory." “The ultimate battle plane.” “A bomb truck with guns on it.”
The latest affectionate description of the converted MC-130J Combat Shadow II is probably the best — and it reflects the branch’s excitement to get this bad boy in the air.
"That's the sound America makes when she's angry,” 1st Special Operations Wing commander Col. Tom Palenske told Military.com air reporter Oriana Pawlyk of the Ghostrider’s arsenal as the aircraft brrrrrrrp’d off its 25mm, 40mm, and 105mm cannons in the skies above Hurlburt during Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s visit this week. "It's going to be awesome. It's our big gun truck.”
A close up of the AC-130J Ghostrider's 30mm GAU-23/A cannon.U.S. Air Force photo
He’s not wrong: the Ghostrider’s weapons system is, to even the most cursory observer, awe-inspiring. Apart from the 25mm Gatling gun and 40mm cannon Pawlyk observed in action and its payload of various munitions — namely AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and the GPS-guided Small Diameter Bombs favored by the Pentagon after years of uptempo bombing sorties in the Middle East — the Ghostrider will boast a 30mm cannon that Palenske described as "almost like a sniper rifle … it's that precise, it can pretty much hit first shot, first kill.”
That’s before you even get to the 105mm cannon that AFSOC slapped on the back of the airframe at the insistence of former AFSOC chief Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold. The cannon is literally the equivalent of an inverted howitzer. And while AFSOC always intended for the Ghostrider to operate with the latest electronic warfare package (and increasing priority in recent months alone), the command has also pushed, despite funding obstacles in Congress, to outfit the airframe with a high-powered directed energy weapon that could disable enemy vehicles, communications, and power sources.
A close up of the AC-130J Ghostrider's 105mm cannonU.S. Air Force photo
Ironically, AFSOC’s new angel of death may be too overgunned for its own good, if you can imagine such a thing. A recent evaluation from DoD’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation found the aircraft’s fire control systems “performed inconsistently when accounting for changing ballistic conditions,” like strong crosswinds and sudden changes in altitude (inconsistencies that would necessitate on-the-fly recalibrations). But the report also found that the recoil 30mm GAU-23/A cannon’s fastest rate of fire causes the gun to shake so aggressively that automatic safeguards kick in, requiring the gun and mount to recenter before going to town again. The sniper rifle, it seems, is too powerful for the airframe.
Palenske insisted to Military.com that the report “drastically exaggerated” the problem. He also said that it’s already been fixed. “All of the gun actuating systems are electric as opposed to hydraulic. Hydraulic's sloppy," Palenske told Pawlyk of the Ghostrider’s new gun mounts. "And remember, we're just bringing this thing online. You can't expect to slap this thing together … and have that thing come out perfect.”
A big, expensive gun that’s the close air support version of a bucking bronco? There’s nothing more American than that.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.
(Reuters Health) - While army suicides have historically decreased during wartime, that trend appears to have reversed in recent decades, a new study of U.S. records finds.
Researchers poring over nearly 200 years of data found that unlike earlier times when there was a decline in suicide rates among U.S. Army soldiers during and just after wars, the rate has risen significantly since 2004, according to the report in JAMA Network Open.
The Navy relieved a decorated explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer on Thursday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, the Navy announced on Friday.
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who led a Marine task force to Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, said the Washington Post's recent reporting about the U.S. government's pattern of lies about the war over the last two decades is not "revelatory."
Mattis, who was interviewed by the Washington Post's David Ignatius on Friday, also said he does not believe the U.S. government made any efforts to hide the true situation in Afghanistan and he argued the war has not been in vain.
Here are 10 key quotes from Mattis regarding the Washington Post's reporting in the 'Afghanistan Papers.'