Defense

January 10, 2013

The most fearsome weapon is evolving

Tags:
Raquel Sanchez
Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Courtesy photograph

The first MC-130J to be converted into Air Force Special Operations Commandís newest variant of the gunship, the AC-130J Ghostrider, lands at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 3, 2013. Modifications to the airframe will be completed in ten months and will be a milestone in the recapitalization of the AC-130H/U fleet.

The first MC-130J Combat Shadow II to be converted into Air Force Special Operations Command’s newest variant of the gunship, the AC-130J Ghostrider arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Modifications to the airframe will be completed in 10 months and will be a milestone in the recapitalization of the AC-130H/U fleet.

The AC-130J Ghostrider will inherit the AC-130W Stinger II’s precision strike package, which was developed to support ground forces in overseas contingency operations.

Insurgent activity in urban environments created the need for an airframe that could deliver direct fire support to ground forces and precisely engage enemies with low-yield munitions.

“These new weapon systems and small diameter bombs will provide overwatch and further standoff distance to cover a wider range of space for our warfighters on the ground,” said Maj. Stuart Menn, U.S. Special Operations Command Det. 1 commander.

The precision strike package includes dual electro-optical infrared sensors, a 30-mm cannon, griffin missiles, all-weather synthetic aperture radar and small diameter bomb capabilities. The sensors allow the gunship to visually or electronically identify friendly ground forces and targets at any time, even in adverse weather.

“The precision strike package that is going into this aircraft is proven down range,” said Todd McGinnis, USSOCOM Det. 1 AC-130J modification manager.

Pairing weapons with a networked battle management system, enhanced communications and situational awareness upgrades the J-model’s ability to deliver surgical firepower.

“Now we get the successes of this precision strike package and marry it up with the advantages of the J-model bringing the best two C-130s together in a new weapons system,” McGinnis said.

The AC-130 primary mission is closeair support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance.

Closeair support missions include delivering fire support to ground forces that are fighting enemies and convoy escort. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity. These missions also include strike coordination and reconnaissance.

The AC-130 gunship has proven to be a reliable and fierce weapon system used by special operations forces since the 1960s. AC-130s had roles in operations Urgent Fury in Grenada, Just Cause in Panama, Desert Storm in Iraq, Continue Hope and United Shield in Somalia, as well as Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. In each operation, AC-130s were credited with many life-saving overwatch missions.

According to the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, “AC-130 gunships have been invaluable in supporting operations against insurgent and terrorist groups in Iraq and Afghanistan. These units have therefore been in heavy demand even as a portion of the fleet approached the end of its service life.”

The AC-130J has the speed of the MC-130J, the precision strike capabilities of the AC-130W and carries forward the heritage of the AC-130H/U.

A total of 37 MC-130J prototypes will be modified as part of a $2.4 billion AC-130J program to grow the future fleet, said Capt. Andrew Reed, USSOCOM Det. 1 AC-130J on-site program manager. The first AC-130J is expected to be completed November 2013 and expected to be ready for initial flight testing by December 2013.

“This will be the most advanced gunship in the inventory,” Menn said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines December 19, 2014

News: SpaceX’s attempt to land rocket on floating barge postponed - It’s set to be one of the most groundbreaking moments in humanity’s six decades of space exploration. Obama signs $1.1 trillion spending bill into law - President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion federal spending measure into law Dec. 16, officially ending any threat of a government...
 
 

News Briefs December 19, 2014

Trial set for ex-Navy engineer in military secrets case A former Navy civilian engineer is scheduled to stand trial next summer on charges of trying to steal aircraft carrier schematics. Media outlets report that 35-year-old Mostafa Awwad of Yorktown, Va., pleaded not guilty Dec. 17 to two counts of attempted exportation of defense articles and...
 
 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Army to launch cruise missile-detecting aerostat at Aberdeen Proving Ground

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez The Army plans to launch an aerostat, part of the “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor,” in late December 2014. The JLENS aerostat will be tethered to the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan

AF delivers Iraqi F-16s for training in US

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan Iraqi air force captain Hama conducts preflight inspections while inside a new to service Iraqi F-16 Fighting Falcon Dec. 17, 2014, located at the nearby Tucson International Airport...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn

Short-notice: A new way to exercise

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, prepare for an aeromedical evacuation exercise on a KC-135 Stratotanker Dec. 5, 2014, at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The operation was executed in supp...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Andy Wolfe

Japan, Australia to provide F-35 maintenance sites in Pacific region

Lockheed Martin photograph by Andy Wolfe An F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter carrier variant prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 6, 2014. Japan and Australia will be sharing...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>