Cannon Air Force Base Now Housing the Air Force’s Newest Gunship, the AC-130J Ghostrider
The U.S. Air Force's newest, biggest and baddest gunship is now being housed at Cannon Air Force Base.
The AC-130J Ghostrider is the a fifth generation gunship operated by the USAF's Air Commandos. AC-130J is the newest version of the AC-130 gunships which have flown since the Vietnam War. The Ghostrider is the direct successor of the AC-130W Stinger II.
The new AC-130J that was recently delivered to Cannon Air Force Base will become a part of the 17th Special Operations Squadron (17 SOS) which will reactivate in October, according to Cannon AFB.
"As we accelerate change in Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) to refocus on strategic partners, the 17 SOS is able to leverage the extended range and expanded capability of the AC-130J to be more effective in the Pacific and across great distances," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Drew Saylor, 27th Special Operations Group Detachment 2 commander.
According to the USAF, the AC-130J is described as having the following features:
The AC-130J is a highly modified C-130J aircraft that contains many advanced features. It contains an advanced two-pilot flight station with fully integrated digital avionics. The aircraft is capable of extremely accurate navigation due to the fully integrated navigation systems with dual inertial navigation systems and global positioning system. Aircraft defensive systems and color weather radar are integrated as well. The aircraft is capable of air refueling with the Universal Air Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation system.
Additionally, the AC-130J is modified with the Precision Strike Package, which includes a mission management console, robust communications suite, two electro-optical/infrared sensors, advanced fire control equipment, precision guided munitions delivery capability, as well as trainable 30mm and 105mm weapons. The mission management system fuses sensor, communication, environment, order of battle and threat information into a common operating picture.
In addition to the 30mm and 105mm cannons, the AC-130J can also launch what the USAF describes as Standoff Precision Guided Munitions, which include the AGM-114 Hellfire missile and the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.
"Flying this plane is awesome. It represents a significant increase in performance and capability that makes us more effective and lethal on the battlefield," said Maj. Ryan Whitehead, the AC-130J aircraft commander.
Back in 2014, the USAF had reported that 32 C-130's would be modified into the AC-130J Ghostrider gunship. No word on how many of the 32 would be headed to Cannon AFB or when the next AC-130J will be shipped to Cannon AFB.