Watch Four Air Force Transports Thread Through a Valley

MC-130Js usually fly at night to avoid being spotted by the enemy, but this clip captures them in broad daylight.

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A new Twitter video shows a formation of U.S. Air Force transports flying a particularly daring flight profile: a low-level formation flight through a Welsh valley. In the clip, you can see four MC-130J Commando II special operations transports, designed to support special forces troops, flying through the U.K.’s famous “Mach Loop” training ground.

USAF MC-130

— peter lewis (@welshi233)

In the video, captured by veteran , the first three planes are flying in tight formation, nose to tail, while the fourth plane trails a bit. The aircraft are almost certainly from the 67th Special Operations Squadron based at RAF Mildenhall in the U.K.

The , a derivative of the C-130J Super Hercules transport, specializes in the “infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply” of U.S. special operations forces within hostile territory. Flying primarily at night, a Commando II could drop off a U.S. Army Special Forces A-Team and Air Force forward air controllers in enemy territory, support them with resupply missions, and even pick them up later if necessary. MC-130Js typically fly at night to avoid being spotted by the enemy.

As the video shows, Commando II pilots are also skilled at low-level flight. Flying below peak level in locations like the Mach Loop keeps aircraft off enemy radars as long as possible, and makes it difficult to discern the direction of their approach.

It also looks positively nerve-wracking.

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The MC-130 can even refuel a CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft in mid-air, extending the latter’s combat range.
U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew

Air Force MC-130 aircraft have been in operation since the the Vietnam War, and new versions emerge when new versions of the baseline C-130 Hercules are produced. In 2001, MC-130s inserted the first U.S. ground forces into Afghanistan shortly after 9/11, dropping 200 Army Rangers of onto an improvised landing zone.

Located in central Wales, the Mach Loop is a series of valleys where aviation spotters can observe U.K., U.S., and other military aircraft practicing low-level flight. The nature of the Mach Loop is such that civilians who make the trip can often look down on airplanes flying through the valleys below.

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