Lockheed Martin completes factory acceptance testing for AHEL
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Lockheed Martin completes factory acceptance testing for AHEL

08 Oct 2021 (Last Updated October 8th, 2021 10:33)

The contract to integrate, test, and demonstrate AHEL laser on the AC-130J aircraft was awarded in January 2019.

Lockheed Martin completes factory acceptance testing for AHEL
AFSOC leadership tours an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship during its unveiling at Bob Sikes Airport Crestview in 2019. Credit: USAF / Senior Airman Caleb Pavao.

Lockheed Martin has delivered its airborne high energy laser (AHEL) system to the US Air Force (USAF) for testing on an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship.

The delivery follows the completion of the system’s factory acceptance testing.

The AHEL will now be prepared to undergo ground testing and flight testing on board the aircraft. It will be integrated with other systems.

Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions vice-president Rick Cordaro said: “Completion of this milestone is a tremendous accomplishment for our customer.

“These mission success milestones are a testament of our partnership with the US Air Force in rapidly achieving important advances in laser weapon system development.

“Our technology is ready for fielding today.”

Lockheed Martin received a contract in January 2019 to integrate, test, and demonstrate AHEL laser on the AC-130J aircraft.

The company is now on a quick schedule to continue testing this capability.

In July this year, Lockheed Martin won a five-year $12m cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery contract from the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division for AHEL system’s technical services, integration, test, and demonstration.

Primary missions of the AC-130J Ghostrider aircraft are close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance.

In March 2019, the USAF Special Operations Command (AFSOC) received the first upgraded Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider aircraft.

This upgraded Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider flew its first-ever combat mission in Afghanistan in June the same year.