Tag Archives: Air Force Special Operations Command

Here’s how a large rigid inflatable boat is airdropped by U.S. Air Force MC-130J Special Ops aircraft

Boat delivery Air Force Special Operations Command-way.

The picture in this post shows an MC-130J Commando II belonging to the 9th Special Operations Squadron airdropping a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System over the Gulf of Mexico on Nov. 12, 2015.

MCADS enable special operations forces members to rapidly deploy anywhere around the world in a maritime environment: anti-pirate ops, beach assault, forces infil and exfil missions may require the use of airdropped vessels.

Produced by Airborne Systems, the MCADS is the only system capable of delivering large RIBs by parachute-dropping them into the water. It is made of the PRIBAD and PURIBAD airdrop platforms, attached to an extractor parachute used to pull the load from the aircraft cargo bay.

The boat and platform separate immediately after leaving the aircraft and both descend to the water under their own parachutes. The Special Forces parachute from the aircraft following the load, and land near the ready-for-use boat in the water.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


U.S. raid to free Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS allegedly failed

Take it with a grain of salt, but it looks like a special operation to free the Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS has failed.

According to unconfirmed reports, the U.S. launched a special operations mission to recover the Jordanian Air Force pilot captured by IS militants after he was forced to abandon his F-16 over Iraq on Dec. 24, 2014.

However, the mission had to be aborted after the commando, heading towards a private house in Al-Raqqa, in the northern part of central Syria, where the Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot was hidden, lost the element of surprise and the helicopters came under heavy fire.

The news was reported by Israel News media outlet, but the source are rebels in Syria according to Turkish news report in El Andalul. So, once again, it’s difficult to determine what’s true and what’s just propaganda.

According to the rebels, two U.S. helicopters were involved in the rescue operation, supported by several combat planes.

Although it is impossible to verify such reports, we can’t rule out the possibility the U.S. launched a rescue mission in the aftermath of the capture of pilot Muaz Yossef El Kasasba to free the first coalition pilot in captivity. Indeed, the presence of (Air Force Special Operations Command) Osprey tiltrotor aircraft based in Kuwait exposed by Google Maps imagery, seems to suggest the U.S. are prepared to conduct CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) missions in Syria and Iraq, should the need to recover a pilot arise.

If confirmed this would be the second failed raid in about six month, the first on Jul. 3, 2014, when some V-22 aircraft were used to carry Delta Force commandos to a campsite in eastern Syria where ISIS militants were believed to hold American and other hostages (that had been moved by the time the commandos attacked the site): a sign that special operations are extremely difficult and dangerous in that region.

Anyway, as a consequence of the capture of one of their pilots Jordan has suspended the Royal Jordanian Air Force operations against ISIS, Jordan newspaper “Arab al-Yaum” wrote.

H/T to @Tom_Antonov for the heads-up

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


New Google Maps imagery shows 9 V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft at airbase in Kuwait

One of our readers has pointed an interesting detail he has found on Google Maps: the presence of a huge contingent of U.S. V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft in Kuwait.

At least twice in the last months, U.S. Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft have conducted missions in Syria or Iraq.

On Jul. 3, some V-22 aircraft were used to carry Delta Force commandos to a campsite in eastern Syria where ISIS militants were believed to hold American and other hostages (that had been moved by the time the commandos attacked the site).

On Aug. 13, V-22s deployed military advisers, Marines and Special Forces on Mount Sinjar to coordinate the evacuation of Yazidi refugees.

Besides their participation in these missions, little is known about the Osprey involvement in the war on Islamic State.

However, there are reasons to believe that V-22 are deployed in theater to play an active role in Operation Inherent Resolve: in fact, as pointed out by our reader Brian Ostrander, a “Google Maps fanatic,” at least 9 Ospreys were depicted on a parking apron at Ahmed al Jaber airbase, in Kuwait, on a satellite image dating back to the end of October.

Although the tiltrotors could have visited the Kuwaiti airport on a ferry flight to somewhere else, or may have just returned to their homebase by the time this article is published, it seems reasonable to believe that the airfield, one of the main hubs for several U.S. and allied aircraft involved in air strikes, is the main operating location of the V-22s and the ones clearly visible in the imagery represent the contingent of Ospreys deployed in the region to perform special tasks in Syria and/or Iraq.

The resolution of the image available on Google Maps or Google Earth prevents a clear identification of the variant: hence the aircraft can be either Marines MV-22s or Air Force’s CV-22s.

There are several reasons why such assets were (and, most probably, still are) deployed in Kuwait: they may be ready to conduct special operations, including infiltration and exfiltration missions, as those performed last summer, or they may be part of the forces tasked with Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) missions in case one of the aircraft is either downed or crashes for a failure “behind the enemy lines” as happened to the Jordanian F-16 last week.

During the Air War in Libya, MV-22A Osprey from the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) performed a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, or “TRAP” mission, in deep into the Libyan territory to rescue the aircrew of a U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle crashed during Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Noteworthy, the new Google Maps imagery shows several more aircraft, including Saudi Tornados, some F-5s, Mirage 2000s and (what looks like) Qatari Alpha Jets.

H/T Brian Ostrander for the heads-up

Image credit: Google Maps


Spectacular Photo of U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft with the full moon in the background

A quite unusual photo caught a U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command’s CV-22 Osprey with the full moon in the background.

Taken close to RAF Mildenhall, UK, on Oct. 7, 2014, by Gary Chadwick, the spectacular photo in this article shows a U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft with the 7th SOS (Special Operations Squadron) flying a night mission with a full moon in the background.

The 7th SOS is a component squadron of the 352nd SOG (Special Operations Group) whose role is infiltration and exfiltration of troops from hostile, sensitive, behind-the-enemy-lines locations.

Along with the Ospreys, the Squadron flies the MC-130H Combat Talon II (that will eventually be replaced by the MC-130J Commando II) that, along with supporting special operations (including PSYOPS) in contested airspace, in adverse weather conditions, at low-level and long range, can also perform HAAR (Helicopter Air-to-Air Refueling) missions.

Image credit: Gary Chadwick


How the AC-130 destroyed at least 20 vehicles per night during Vietnam War

During the early days of Vietnam Conflict, the US developed a special kind of attack aircraft to stop the flow of enemy troops and supplies: the gunship.

The Gunship aircraft, born from the conversion of cargo aircraft into powerful aerial weapons armed with big guns, were based on the concept of the circling attack.

In other words, the guns were mounted on the left side of the gunship so that the plane could fly a bank circle, achieving a good accuracy in strafing the target by using high velocity guns with a caliber of at least .30.

The first two types of gunships developed by the US were the twin-engine piston powered Douglas C-47 Skytrain and Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar, but the final leap was made relying on the size, speed and heft of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules which became known in the gunships world as the AC-130 Spectre.

The first AC-130As were deployed in Vietnam in 1968. They were armed with two 20 mm and two 40 mm cannons and they flew their first missions teamed with F-4s, which had the task to attack and destroy with cluster bombs the enemy AAA (Anti Aircraft Artillery) that opened fire against the gunship.

During the first missions  the Spectre was also able to achieve an aerial victory when on May 8, 1969 an AC-130 shot down an enemy helicopter, as told by Wayne Mutza in his book Gunships The Story of Spooky, Shadow, Stinger and Spectre .

But the AC-130s were best and widely used from October 1969 to April 1970, the so called dry season, during which the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) trucks transported ammunition supplies by using the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Spectres crews, that had the task to hunt trucks, were able to destroy and damage 25 of them in one mission: among these there were also AAA vehicles and, some times, the gunships came back to the base badly damaged. In the 1969-1970 dry season the NVA moved about 68,000 tons of provisions on the Trail, 47,000 tons of which were destroyed by the 12 deployed AC-130s with their 20 mm high density rounds and 40 mm Bofors cannons.

The 1970-1971 was even busier for the gunships since American and South Vietnamese soldiers began moving into Laos: in fact, while the numbers of AC-130s increased from 12 to 18, the western part of the Trail became filled with an always increasing number of vehicles coming from east, where interdiction sorties had concentrated. Therefore, during this period a gunship could destroy more than 25 trucks per night and the 1970-1971 dry season ended with 58,500 tons of material destroyed.

By the end of the 1971, after the NVA increased the number of the armored vehicles and the caliber of guns along the Trail, the U.S. deployed the first example of AC-130E.

As explained in detail by Wayne Mutza in his book, the new Spectre model was armed with a new more potent gun, the M102 105 mm Howitzer which replaced one of the Bofors cannons on the left side of the gunship.

The first Howitzer was installed in a gunship after it was repaired from some battle damages. Since it could fire from a distance of 12,000 meters, the Howitzer highly increased Spectre stand-off capabilities: the result was a higher kill ratio against trucks, since a vehicle hit by a 105 round had only a 10% chance to be still operable.

During its first Vietnam deployment this single howitzer-mounted AC-130E destroyed 75 trucks and damaged 92 ones with the 105, and destroyed 27 vehicles and damaged 24 ones with 40 mm fire in 32 missions.

4th Special Operations Squadron

Image credit: U.S. Air Force