The US Air Force's Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has received the first of 37 upgraded Lockheed Martin AC-130J Ghostrider gunships, it was announced on 7 March.
The Block 30 aircraft was handed over to the 4th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, Florida, on 6 March. While AFSOC has not disclosed the specifics of the Block 30 upgrade, it noted that the enhancement is primarily focused on the aircraft's software and avionics.
As with the AC-130W Stinger II, the AC-130J is equipped with the palletised Precision-Strike Package (PSP), which comprises a single 30 mm Mk44 Bushmaster cannon, precision-guided munitions, and a 105 mm cannon. Precision-guided munitions such as the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and Raytheon's AGM-176A Griffin missile will also be employed, while AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and high-energy lasers could feature among future armament options (the precise configuration has still to be determined).
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at ihsmarkit.com/janes