Watch Four U.S. Special Operations C-130s Roar Through A Valley Together In The U.K.
Seeing so many transports hitting the low-level routes together is a rare sight to behold.
The 67th Special Operations Squadron (67th SOS) 'Night Owls' based at RAF Mildenhall in England put on one hell of a display through the U.K. countryside recently with four of their MC-130J Commando II aircraft snaking along one of the low-level routes that run through Wales, also generally referred to as Mach Loop.
The video was posted on Twitter by photographer Peter Lewis. If it doesn't automatically propagate below, you can click here to watch it on Twitter.
Although it is fairly common to see fighters and other tactical aircraft rocketing through the low-level routes around Wales in groups, formations of multiple large aircraft, like the C-130, are less common, and especially an entire division (four aircraft) at once.
The forward-based 67th SOS is one of the USAF's premier special operations squadrons. It focuses on providing aerial refueling and forward arming and refueling points (FARP) to rotary-wing special operations aircraft under the cover of darkness, as well as more general special operations transport duties.
These missions can include infiltrating into or near enemy airspace via low-altitude 'nap of the earth' flying tactics. With that in mind, practicing low-level flying and navigating skills is absolutely essential to being able to accomplish the unit's high-risk, high-stakes mission set upon short notice. This makes the local low-level routes that the U.K. has to offer, some of the finest in the world, very convenient for the squadron.
The MC-130J, is still relatively new to the unit, with the last of the Night Owl's venerable MC-130Ps leaving the squadron in 2014. The MC-130J is far superior to its predecessor in many ways, but one thing it lacks is terrain following radar. This makes low-level infiltration missions at night and in poor weather much harder to accomplish, especially down to the heights that will help ensure the aircraft's survivability in some pretty tough neighborhoods. This is all changing now as The War Zone was first to report recently.
The MC-130J fleet is beginning to be equipped with the dedicated and highly capable Silent Knight terrain following radar system, which is mounted in a fairing between the existing radome and the Commando II's cockpit windscreen. Combined with new training, this enhancement will unlock the MC-130J's full ability to sneak into contested territory undetected to refuel thirsty CV-22s, HH-60s, MH-47s, MH-60s, and who knows what else.
In the meantime, the Night Owls aren't shying away from showing off their low-level flying prowess or the fact that what they do is indeed a team sport.
Well done Night Owls, well done.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com