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.

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(U.S. Army/Sgt. 1st Class J. TaShun Joyce)

When then-Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher C. Palumbo found out he couldn't get back to a battle in Afghanistan, he was so mad that he drop-kicked his flight helmet.

Palumbo, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, received the Distinguished Service Cross Award on Thursday for his actions during that battle on April 11, 2005. The award is the Army's second highest for valor.

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(Wikimedia Common/Gerard van der Schaaf)

BERLIN (Reuters) - One pilot was killed after two Eurofighter warplanes crashed over northeastern Germany, n-tv television reported, while the pilot of the other jet was reported as having parachuted to safety.

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(Mikhail Palinchak, Presidential Press Service via Associated Press)
The Russian Defense Ministry released a video shot from the cockpit of a Su-27 fighter as it raced after a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress heavy, long-range bomber.
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(Task & Purpose photo illustration)

The Army is currently on track to officially select a brand new armed scout helicopter by some time in 2020, and with several future vertical life prototypes flexing their muscles in a bid for the freakishly lucrative contract, the service's chief advocacy group decided to remind the world where the inspiration for its new copter really came from.

So Avatar at $30 million a pop, basically.

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(U.S Air Force/1st Class Joshua Maund)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Air Force Capt. Forrest "Cal" Lampela was about to put the aircraft landing gear down in Shannon, Ireland, eight hours into a flight. If all had gone according to plan, he and his C-17 Globemaster III crew should have been more than halfway over the Atlantic.

He couldn't see the runway because of dense fog, catching a glimpse of it from only 100 feet above the ground — the absolute minimum altitude to which the large transport aircraft can descend before its pilot must either call for a landing or to abort approach.

Somewhere below, an ambulance stood by, waiting to pick up a sailor who had been wounded in combat and was in critical condition.

"I was a little bit afraid of where the ambulance was going to be because I didn't want him to try to run up on the jet while we still had engines running, because the fog was that bad," Lampela said.

He recalls it as "the most challenging landing that I've ever done." But on top of dangerous, foggy conditions, Lampela and the crew, call sign Reach 445, had just entered a country where they had not received diplomatic clearance before touching down.

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