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USA: AFSOC gets latest AC-130J gunship.

| 2019

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has received an upgraded version of its Ghostrider gunship.

USA AFSOC gets latest AC 130J gunship AC-130J Ghostrider (Picture source: US Air Force)

The 4th Special Operations Squadron, 1st Special Operations Wing, at Hurlburt Field, Florida, received its first AC-130J Ghostrider Block 30 gunship this week during a ceremony at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, Florida, Air Force Special Operations Command.
The Ghostrider will represent a major upgrade over the AC-130U Spooky currently used by the 4th SOS, which AFSOC said is the Air Force’s most deployed squadron. The AC-130J can carry out the same close-air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance missions that the Spooky now performs, but with better avionics, navigation systems and weapons.

Along with the 105mm cannon the U-models sport, the AC-130J is equipped with a 30mm cannon "almost like a sniper rifle. ... It's that precise, it can pretty much hit first shot, first kill," Col. Tom Palenske, then-commander of 1st Special Operations Wing.

The AC-130J’s six-bladed turboprop engines help it operate faster and much more efficiently than the Spooky, according to AFSOC, and it burns 25 to 30 percent less gas than previous models. The AC-130U Spooky is slowly being retired from active duty after more than two decades in action.

It has the ability to launch 250-pound, GPS- or laser-guided small-diameter bombs (SDB). The aircraft is expected to carry AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, interchangeable with the SDBs on its wing pylons, AFSOC has said.

The service plans to buy 37 of the aircraft. Crews expect the J to be deployed in late 2019 or early 2020.

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