AFSOC gets new AC-130J gunship

The latest version of the AC-130J Ghostrider gunship has been delivered to the 4th Special Operations Squadron.

The 1st Special Operations Wing said in a news release Wednesday that the gunship is the first Block 30 Ghostrider for Air Force Special Operations Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. It was delivered to the 4th SOS  in a small unveiling ceremony at Bob Skies Airport in Crestview, Florida.

The Pentagon had previously said the Block 30 version of the AC-130J would have the capability to carry wing-mounted AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, it is unclear whether the Ghostrider that was delivered last week does. Hellfire missiles were not included in the list of Block 30 features provided by AFSOC.

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.

The Ghostrider’s “Precision Strike Package” includes trainable 30mm and 105mm weapons. 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.