U.S. amassing Special Operations planes, gunships in the Mediterranean area

A small build-up is in progress in the Mediterranean area, following the Benghazi attack that cost the life of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three American officials, one of those was a former Navy SEAL.

Along with a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST), a couple of destroyers equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, and, most probably the USS Iwo Jima and its MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit), Washington may have decided to move into position several Special Operations planes.

According to the information posted on Scramble Messageboard, one of the most famous aviation forums, extremely popular among aircraft spotters from all around the world, at least a dozen Special Operation Hercules (MC-130Hs, HC-130Ns, HC-130Ps and AC-130Us) are currently in the process of crossing the Atlantic Ocean eastbound.

A pre-planned deployment? Hard to say. For sure it seems more than a coincidence that such variety of Special Ops planes is on the move hours after the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and protests have erupted in Israel, Gaza, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq, Iran and among Muslims in the Indian-controlled region of Kashmir.

Although their final destination is unknown, they will probably be deployed to Sigonella, in Sicily, or Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, or wherever such special operations planes may be useful to support infiltration, exfiltration of ground forces, resupply, escort and anything needed to protect U.S. diplomatic missions in Africa and the Middle East, where protesters have been gathering in a wave of anger and outrage sparked by an American film.

The presence of AC-130U Spooky gunships could be a sign that the Pentagon wants consistent firepower to perform force protection missions should the need arise.

This plane’s primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. The U model is an upgraded version of the H and is equipped with side firing, trainable 25 mm, 40 mm, and 105 mm guns.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.