The Gray Ghost

The Gray Ghost

Ref: USMC’s tight budget (Col. J.R. Bates, USMC)

While Corporate America is jetting from one mega deal to the next board meeting, The US Marines have adopted the Corporate Jet into the war on terrorism. Considerably a leaner & meaner model, the Marines have taken a tornado damaged G4 and for a third the cost of the new executive version converted it into a working member of the Corps’ air power. This G4 based in Hawaii has none of the luxurious amenities of its counterparts. Marines have pallets of supplies and gear aboard and communication systems for war fighting. No luxuries, they even bring their own personal water and chow. The pace aboard is 24/7 and would wear out the toughest of Fortune Five Hundred executives. They land in far off climes and exit with helmets, flak jackets, and weapons at the ready. All this capability is at a fraction of the cost of a Corporate G4 model. The Ghost bears little resemblance to the famous civil war colonel John Mosby.

Dateline 29 August ’04 at 1745 hours U. S. Marine Central Command Headquarters, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The C-20G aka Gulf G4 takes off for Djibouti Africa via Nova Scotia Canada and Naval Base Italy (fuel stops). Cruising at 41,000 feet with an all-Marine flight crew of seven leathernecks (three in training), this aircraft transports senior Marine leadership (executives with 9mm pistols strapped to their hips) to and from the global war on terrorism. There are eight Marine officers aboard heading to coordinate Marine operations in Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq. All on mission critical assignments.

This aircraft that can do almost 90% the speed of sound is based at Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. To date in support of OEF/OIF, Gray Ghost crews have flown 476 sorties, 1449 flight hours, 2004 passengers and 159,000 pounds of cargo. The Grey Ghost has flown missions into virtually every country in the Central Command Area of Responsibility. This is a remarkable aircraft and crew tailored for the Marines and their requirements in the pursuit of the global war on terrorism.

Photos: General McAbee and staff working on strategic plans enroute to Iraq. Plus the jet’s empennage (tail) and full view 4 photos

Photo credit: S.E. Petit, Rifleman

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