Defense

February 10, 2014

New AC-130J completes first test flight

Dave King marshals out the AC-130J Ghostrider as it taxis the runway for its first official sortie Jan. 31, 2014 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130J arrived at Eglin AFB in January of 2013 to begin the modification process for the AC-130J, whose primary mission is close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. A total of 32 MC-130J prototypes will be modified as part of a $2.4 billion AC-130J program to grow the future fleet. King is a contractor for Lockheed Martin.

After more than a year of modification maintenance, the newly created AC-130J Ghostrider took to the sky for the first time as a gunship at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 31.

In early January 2013, the Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130J Commando II arrived here to begin the modification process with the goal of creating a “best of both worlds” aircraft. The end result became a hybrid C-130 model with the flying proficiencies of the MC-130J and the combat capabilities of an AC-130.

The modification was completed here because the AC-130J test team and test program are located at Eglin Air Force Base.

“After the modification was completed, the aircraft could remain here where we could take it out for the first flight,” said Maj. Brian Taliaferro, the aircraft commander for the flight. “That’s why Eglin (AFB) was the best choice.”

Converting a mobility aircraft into a strike aircraft meant adding some hardware. That came in the form of the Precision Strike Package, which was developed by U.S. Special Operations Command to support ground forces in overseas contingency operations.

“These new weapon systems and small diameter bombs provide over watch and further standoff distance to cover a wider range of space for our warfighters on the ground,” said Maj. Eric Ripple, the USSOCOM Detachment 1 commander.

The Precision Strike Package includes dual electro-optical infrared sensors, a 30-mm cannon, AGM-176A Griffin missiles, all-weather synthetic aperture radar and GBU-39 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 newly created AC-130J Ghostrider takes to the air during its first official sortie Jan. 31, 2014 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130J arrived at Eglin AFB in January of 2013 to begin the modification process for the AC-130J, whose primary mission is close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance.

Pairing weapons with a networked battle management system, enhanced communications and situational awareness upgrades the AC-130J’s  ability to deliver surgical firepower.

“We get the successes of the 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,” said Todd McGinnis, the USSOCOM AC-130J modification manager at Det. 1.

The aircrew from Eglin’s AFB 413th Flight Test Squadron took the new aircraft out for its first official sortie. The squadron is the lead participating test organization for the developmental testing of the AC-130J.

“As with any new or highly modified aircraft, the initial goal is to ensure the aircraft design or modification does not adversely affect the flying and handling qualities,” Taliaferro said. “We have dedicated six flights at the beginning of the test program to accomplish this task.”

According to Taliaferro, to be involved with a first flight is rare in the test pilot community, but they are trained to accomplish a mission like this.

“It’s rewarding when the training leads to a successful, smooth flight like this one,” he said.  “The flight went excellent. We met our primary objective, which was to clear the envelope sufficiently to allow for a safe landing.”

Capt. Steve Visalli boards the newly created AC-130J Ghostrider in anticipation of its first official sortie Jan. 31, 2014 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The AC-130J’s primary mission is close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. Visalli is a flight test engineer with the 413th Flight Test Squadron.

To do this, after takeoff, the aircrew left the landing gear and flaps down until reaching a safe altitude. They incrementally slowed the aircraft to touchdown speed, checking the flying and handling qualities at each speed. The 413th FLTS crew also completed multiple swings of the landing gear to ensure it had proper clearance with the new modifications. They also performed flying and handling quality assurance tests during the three and a half hour flight.

“This is a big accomplishment not just for the AC-130J test team and the 413th FLTS, but also for the 96th Test Wing, who provided many pivotal support functions to make this flight a success,” Taliaferro said.

A total of 32 MC-130J aircraft will be modified for AFSOC as part of a $2.4 billion AC-130J program to grow the future fleet, according to Capt. Greg Sullivan, the USSOCOM AC-130J on-site program manager at Det. 1.




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


 
 

 

Headlines April 24, 2015

News: More than $1 billion in U.S. emergency reconstruction aid goes missing in Afghanistan - A total of $1.3 billion that the Pentagon shipped to its force commanders in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2014 for the most critical reconstruction projects can’t be accounted for by the Defense Department, 60 percent of all such spending under an...
 
 

News Briefs April 24, 2015

German defense minister: widely used rifle has no future A widely used assault rifle has “no future” with the German military in its current form, Germany’s defense minister said April 22, escalating a dispute over the weapon’s alleged shortcomings. Ursula von der Leyen said last month that a study showed the G36 rifle has a...
 
 
Army photograph

Composites key to tougher, lighter armaments

Army photograph XM-360 test firing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 2007, is shown. The Army is on the cusp of revolutionizing materials that go into armament construction, making for stronger, lighter and more durable weapo...
 

 

Northrop Grumman signs long-term agreement with Raytheon

Northrop Grumman has entered a long-term agreement with Raytheon to supply its LN-200 Inertial Measurement Unit for Raytheon optical targeting systems. The long-term agreement with Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business extends through 2018. The LN-200 provides camera stabilization on optical targeting systems that conduct long-range surveillance and target acquisition for various...
 
 

NTTR supports first F-35B integration into USMC’s weapons school exercise

The Nevada Test and Training Range was part of history April 21, when four U.S. Marine Corps-assigned F-35B Lightning IIs participated in its first Marine Corps’ Final Exercise of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course on the NTTR’s ranges. The Final Exercise, or FINEX, is the capstone event to the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Aviation...
 
 
AAR-Textron

AAR awarded new contract from Bell Helicopter Textron to support T64 engines

AAR announced April 22 that Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. awarded its Defense Systems & Logistics business unit a contract providing warehouse and logistics services in support of upgrading T64 engines for the Bell V-280 Val...
 




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>