US Air Force HC-130J Warplanes at Shannon

Yesterday evening (October 9th) at Shannon there were two more US warplanes. But these were no ordinary planes. Both were Hercules HC-130J Combat King II's, which are used for a range of purposes including US special forces operations. They capable of avoiding radar and undertaking low flying operations by night, and are equipped to be refueled in mid air.

They are also able to refuel helicopters in mid air.

One of the HC-130J's at Shannon has its tall gate open and cargo was visible inside. What we don't know is what was being carried on the cargo pallets.

The nature of the warplanes' operations is also unknown. Perhaps they are assisting with the exit of US special forces from Syria as they abandon and betray their erstwhile Kurdish friends?

The tail numbers of the two planes were 13-5782 and 09-5707.

This is the description of these warplanes (from the US Air Force website):

"The HC-130J replaces HC-130P/Ns as the only dedicated fixed-wing Personnel Recovery platform in the Air Force inventory. It is an extended-range version of the C-130J Hercules transport. Its mission is to rapidly deploy to execute combatant commander directed recovery operations to austere airfields and denied territory for expeditionary, all weather personnel recovery operations to include airdrop, airland, helicopter air-to-air refueling, and forward area ground refueling missions. When tasked, the aircraft also conducts humanitarian assistance operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation, and noncombatant evacuation operations."

Its features are described as follows:

"Modifications to the HC-130J have improved navigation, threat detection and countermeasures systems. The aircraft fleet has a fully-integrated inertial navigation and global positioning systems, and night vision goggle, or NVG, compatible interior and exterior lighting. It also has forward-looking infrared, radar and missile warning receivers, chaff and flare dispensers, satellite and data-burst communications, and the ability to receive fuel inflight via a Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI).

The HC-130J can fly in the day; however, crews normally fly night at low to medium altitude levels in contested or sensitive environments, both over land or overwater. Crews use NVGs for tactical flight profiles to avoid detection to accomplish covert infiltration/exfiltration and transload operations. To enhance the probability of mission success and survivability near populated areas, crews employ tactics that include incorporating no external lighting or communications, and avoiding radar and weapons detection.

Drop zone objectives are done via personnel drops and equipment drops. Rescue bundles include illumination flares, marker smokes and rescue kits. Helicopter air-to-air refueling can be conducted at night, with blacked out communication with up to two simultaneous helicopters. Additionally, forward area refueling point operations can be executed to support a variety of joint and coalition partners."

So, what were these planes doing in Shannon?

Any answers, Simon Coveney?

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