skip to main content

AFSOC receives first Block 30-upgraded Ghostrider gunship

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 first Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider gunship was handed over to AFSOC on 6 March. (US Air Force)

The first Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider gunship was handed over to AFSOC on 6 March. (US Air Force)

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.

The Block 30 upgrade comprises enhancements to the aircraft's software and avionics. (US Air Force)

The Block 30 upgrade comprises enhancements to the aircraft's software and avionics. (US Air Force)

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).

AFSOC currently fields 12 AC-130W and 17 AC-130U Spooky gunships, and has received the first of 37 AC-130Js. Once all the AC-130Js have been received by about the mid-2020s, the AC-130Us will be retired to leave the AC-130Ws and AC-130Js as the command’s capital gunship fleet.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...