Go to contents

US ‘Ghost Rider’ gunship deployed in S. Korea for live-fire exercises

US ‘Ghost Rider’ gunship deployed in S. Korea for live-fire exercises

Posted March. 03, 2023 07:39,   

Updated March. 03, 2023 07:39


The South Korean military has released footage of the U.S. Air Forces’ newest gunship, the AC-130J (aka Ghost Rider), conducting live-fire exercises in the skies over the Korean Peninsula as part of the ongoing joint ROK-US special forces training, “Teak Knife.”

This marks the first deployment of the AC-130J in the Korean Peninsula, which can fire thousands of rounds of ammunition per minute and carry out precision strikes. Gen. Kim Seung-kyeom, the chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, stressed the importance of having the capability to strike North Korea’s key facilities with perfect precision.

The rare public disclosure of the Teak Knife exercise, which includes a scenario of removing Pyongyang’s leadership, along with the presence of the top military commander monitoring the training, is believed to be a warning against North Korea’s leadership, who threatened to make provocations ahead of the upcoming joint ROK-US Freedom Shield (FS) exercise, which is set to begin in mid-March.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that South Korea and the U.S. have been conducting the Teak Knife exercise since early February. This week, they are conducting an aircraft firepower guidance training by special forces agents to make precision strikes in enemy territories. The statement also noted that this marks the first time that the AC-130J, the U.S. airstrike military asset deployed on the Korean Peninsula in contingencies, has participated in the training.

The released footage shows the AC-130J firing laser-guided bombs (AGM-176, AGM-113), air-to-ground guidance missiles (GBU-30), 30mm cannons, and 105mm howitzers over the Jikdo shooting range in front of the seas off Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, from a height of approximately 3 kilometers. Massive flames and smoke swirled across the shooting range every time the missiles, cannons, and howitzers hit the targets. A military official said that during the live-fire exercise, the AC-130J immediately hit the targets when South Korea and U.S. special forces infiltrated enemy lines and requested fire guidance for critical targets.

The AC-130 is an airborne bombing weapon retrofitted from the C-130 transporter. With its powerful firepower that can pour down on targets like rain day and night, the gunship is dubbed the “Gunship of the Sky” and the “Angel of Death.” The AC-130J, which is the most advanced model for the AC-130, boasts state-of-the-art navigation equipment and upgraded precision targeting and infiltration capabilities. The AC-130J deployed on the Korean Peninsula for the first time for this exercise is said to have flown from a U.S. military base in Japan.

Gen. Kim visited the base where the AC-130J was deployed where he emphasized to South Korean and U.S. special forces soldiers that they must have the ability and readiness to counter North Korea’s increasingly overt provocations with power and precise firepower and defeat the enemy with fatal damage in any mission.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com · Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com