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The Air Force's newest gunship is officially here to f*ck up your day
Brace yourselves: the Air Force's newest gunship is officially on the prowl downrange.
The AC-130J Ghostrider gunship flew its first combat mission in Afghanistan in late June, deploying to relieve the AC-130U Spooky aircraft following the latter's final combat sorties, an Air Force Special Operations Command spokesman confirmed to The War Zone on Wednesday.
According to the Northwest Florida Daily News, which first reported the news of the combat deployment, the mission took place "just days before" the June 28 change of command ceremony for new AFSOC commander Air Force Lt. Gen. James Slife at Hurlburt Field in Florida.
According to The War Zone, the 73rd Special Operation Squadron at Hurburt is currently flying the Ghostrider in Afghanistan, likely in a close air support or armed overwatch capacity
An AC-130J Ghostrider gunship, Block 20 model, shuts down after arriving to Hurlburt Field, Fla., for the first time July 18, 2016. The Block 20 version of the AC-130J is modified with the 105mm canon and will be operationally tested out of Hurlburt Field(U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)
Described by AFSOC officials as "the ultimate battle plane" and "a bomb truck with guns on it," the Ghostrider comes with the standard 105mm cannon and an additional 30mm GAU-23/A cannon, along with wing pylons designed for both GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.
The 30mm cannon in particular "almost like a sniper rifle. ... It's that precise, it can pretty much hit first shot, first kill," then-1st SOW commander Col. Tom Palenske told Millitary.com back in 2017, adding that the Ghostrider is "going to [be] the most lethal, with the most loiter time, probably the most requested weapons system from ground forces in the history of warfare."
The 30mm cannon on a AC-130J Ghostrider gunship at the Lockheed Martin factory in Crestview, Fla., Oct. 24, 2016.(U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Joseph Pick)
But while the Ghostrider first hit initial operational capacity back in September 2017, a January 2018 assessment from the Pentagon's Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation found that the Ghostrider's fire control systems "performed inconsistently when accounting for changing ballistic conditions" like shifts in altitude and ambient wind, requiring frequent in-flight adjustments to ensure the weapons' accuracy.
Beyond that, the 30mm cannon's full rate of fire of 200 rounds a minute caused the cannon to shake so violently that the fire control system's automatic safeguards kicked in, forcing the operator to again recalibrate the gun and mount to get the system moving again, according to the Pentagon OT&E assessment.
Those problems have since been addressed: According to the Pentagon's 2019 assessment, the Ghostrider systems were officially "effective and suitable" for CAS and air interdiction missions. The following the March, the 4th Special Operations Squadron,1st Special Operations Wing received an upgraded version of the new gunship with "major improvement[s] in software and avionics technology."
While details are scant on the nature of the Ghostrider's first combat mission, U.S. special operations forces have remained heavily in the fight in Afghanistan in recent years. Unfortunately, there's word yet on whether they can expect future Ghostrider support to include frickin' laser beams.
WATCH NEXT: The AC-130U Spooky Gunship Has Completed Its Final Combat Deployment
Sen. Rick Scott is backing a bipartisan bill that would allow service members to essentially sue the United States government for medical malpractice if they are injured in the care of military doctors.
The measure has already passed the House and it has been introduced in the Senate, where Scott says he will sign on as a co-sponsor.
"As a U.S. Senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, taking care of our military members, veterans and their families is my top priority," the Florida Republican said in a statement.
Little girls everywhere will soon have the chance to play with a set of classic little green Army soldiers that actually reflect the presence of women in the armed forces.
U.S. military officials may have abandoned their dreams of powered armor straight out of Starship Troopers, but the futuristic components of America's first prototype combat exoskeleton could eventually end up in the arsenals of both U.S. special operations forces and conventional troops.
SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper pressed South Korea on Friday to pay more for the cost of stationing U.S. troops in the country and to maintain an intelligence-sharing pact with its other Asian ally, Japan, that Seoul is about to let lapse.
Speaking after a high-level defense policy meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, Esper also said the two countries must be flexible with their joint military drills to back diplomatic efforts to end North Korea's nuclear program.
But he stopped short of announcing any new reduction in military exercises that North Korea has sharply condemned.
Russia established an air base in the Syrian city where withdrawing US troops were pelted with potatoes
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia landed attack helicopters and troops at a sprawling air base in northern Syria vacated by U.S. forces, the Russian Defence Ministry's Zvezda TV channel said on Friday.
On Thursday, Zvezda said Russia had set up a helicopter base at an airport in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, a move designed to increase Moscow's control over events on the ground there.
Qamishli is the same city where Syrian citizens pelted U.S. troops and armored vehicles with potatoes after President Donald Trump vowed to pull U.S. troops from Syria.