• Published
  • By Captain Renee Douglas
  • 353rd Special Operations Group

An AC-130J Ghostrider gunship arrived at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan on March 29, 2021. Regularly stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida, this is the first time the updated J model of the AC-130 has landed or operated in Japan.

Assigned to the 73rd Special Operations Squadron, the AC-130J is a highly modified C-130J aircraft that represents the 5th generation of fixed wing gunships. It contains an advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics. The 73rd Special Operations Squadron plans, prepares and executes AC-130J Ghostrider gunship missions, directly supporting theater commanders conducting close air support, armed reconnaissance, armed escort and air interdiction.

During this visit to Japan, the AC-130J will conduct joint, allied and partner nation training in the Indo-Pacific region both in Okinawa, Japan and as part of Exercise Balikatan held annually in the Philippines. This training will include close air support and forward area refueling point training, and demonstrates the specialized airpower that the U.S. can leverage to support the security of Japan and promote peace and stability in the region.

Balikatan increases our ability to work together in response to crises across the military spectrum in order to accomplish the mission and support local populations. The specific training objectives for Exercise Balikatan such as mutual defense, counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, incorporate lessons learned from recent events in the Philippines to promote realistic training that supports regional security.