A U.S. Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider gunship for the first time supported close-air support training this week during Exercise Balikatan.
The Ghostrider, assigned to the 73rd Special Operations Squadron out of Hurlburt Field, Florida, deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to the Philippines and fired its 30mm and 105mm cannons on targets called in by combat controllers with Kadena’s 320th Special Tactics Squadron and joint terminal attack controllers with the Philippine air force’s 710th Special Operations Wing, reports said citing an official Air Force release.
The deployment also marked the first time the updated J model of the AC-130 has landed in or operated in Japan.
The close-air support live-fire training in a complex and realistic environment advanced the combined capabilities of the two nations and demonstrated the reach of U.S. SOF assets, the Air Force says.
“This CAS integration between the FA-50PH [fighter] and the AC-130J is a pioneering training for our PAF fighter pilots,” said Philippine air force Maj. Michael G. Rabina, commander of the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron, in the release. “It is a welcome opportunity for us to participate in such operations that offers a valuable training environment to enhance our capabilities. This exercise demonstrates the interoperability of the Fighting Eagle with the gunship and with our allies in a combined operations setting.”