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MC-130J Commando II Looks Like a Winged Shark Shadow in the Gulf of Mexico

Being a soldier is one of the most hazardous jobs out there. Sure, one could say that for most soldiers that dangerous part (read combat) never comes to pass, but you have to keep in mind that these guys routinely train to kill, and mentally prepare to get killed themselves.
Soldiers getting ready to jump out of a MC-130J Commando II 7 photos
MC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flockMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flockMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flockMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flockMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flockMC-130J Commando IIs in flight of the flock
Dangerous as it may be, the job does come with a series of unparalleled perks. One would be the fact soldiers get the chance to use and play with tools and hardware most of us civilians never get to even see.

Another would be access to incredible scenery, and out-of-this-world manifestations of otherwise natural and most of the time mundane occurrences. Like, say, looking down from the rear end of an airplane, at the shadow it casts in the water, a shadow that seems to forever chase its maker like a hungry shark, never to catch up.

Just take a close look at the main image of this piece and ask yourself when was the last time you set eyes on something so amazing. We see three people, and the feet of a fourth, dangling out the rear of a MC-130J Commando II as it flies over the Gulf of Mexico.

The soldiers, part of the 9th Special Operations Squadron, were on location when the pic was snapped, at the beginning of May, to take part in exercise Emerald Warrior 22.1, “the largest joint special operations exercise involving U.S. Special Operations Command forces training to respond to various threats across the spectrum of conflict.”

The crew was not there just for sightseeing, but are seen here as they were preparing for a static-line jump mission. That would be jumping out of the perfectly functioning aircraft, with the parachutes automatically opening by means of a fixed cord attached to the Commando.

This particular plane, first flown in 2011 as a derivative of the C-130, is perfect for such missions. Powered by four Rolls-Royce turboprop engines, it moves through the sky at speeds of 362 knots (417 mph/671 kph), and can keep going for up to 3,000 miles (4,828 km) on a single fill of its tanks.

The American military had it made specifically for clandestine, low-level infiltration and exfiltration missions.

Editor's note: Gallery shows other Commandos.


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