The US Air Force’s Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has received its first AC-130J Ghostrider with advanced capabilities.
The aircraft will now undergo the initial developmental test and evaluation by the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and will be later flown by the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2.
1st SOAMXS production superintendent master sergeant Michael Ezell said: "The AC-130J brings new technology to the table for AFSOC with more efficient engines, improved fuel efficiency and the ability to fly higher, further and quieter.
"Additionally, the modified weapons system it possesses is a precision strike package that was collected from the older models, such as the laser-guided bombs and AGM-176 Griffin bombs, and combined to give us all the capabilities of the AC-130W Stinger II and AC-130U Spooky all in one package."
Operational testing of the new aircraft is expected to be completed in the first half of 2016.
The AC-130J Ghostrider is a hybrid C-130 model having flying proficiencies of the MC-130J Commando II and the combat capabilities of an AC-130, and is primarily designed for close air support and air interdiction missions.
Replacing the legacy AC-130H/U aircraft of the USAF, the new aircraft is primarily designed for close air support and air interdiction missions.
The aircraft has been equipped with the precision strike package, which was developed by the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to support ground forces in overseas contingency operations.
Under a total investment worth $2.4bn, Lockheed Martin will deliver 32 AC-130J Ghostrider aircraft to the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC).
Image: The US Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released.