Monday, September 25, 2017

AC-130J nearly combat-ready

The Air Force plans to declare its new AC-130J “Ghostrider” gunship ready for combat operations by the end of September. But it won’t deploy into to a war zone for a couple of more years, according to Lt. Gen. Marshall “Brad” Webb, head of Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla. He told reporters at the Air Force Association’s annual conference in National Harbor, Md., that the delay is because of the high pace of operational missions abroad, which makes in more difficult to train special operators on the new gunship’s new weapon system. The AC-130J, designed for close-air support, is armed with a 30mm GAU-23/A cannon and suite of precision-guided munitions that include the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb and AGM-176 Griffin missile, and a 105mm M102 howitzer system, which can fire 10 50-pound shells a minute. The weapons systems are governed by modular Precision Strike Package. As of April 2017, AFSOC was exploring the possibility of a directed-energy laser system designed to knock out enemy electronics and disable critical infrastructure. (Sources: multiple, including DoDBuzz, Flightglobal, ExecutiveGov, National Interest, 09/21/17)