Home Air First AC-130J Ghostrider special operations gunship arrives at Cannon AFB

First AC-130J Ghostrider special operations gunship arrives at Cannon AFB

AC-130J Ghostrider gunship
A US Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider gunship, assigned to the 27th Special Operations Group Detachment 2, taxis on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, July 19, 2021. Photo: US Air Force

US airmen with Hurlburt Field, Florida and Cannon Air Force Base delivered a new AC-130J Ghostrider gunship to the 27th Special Operations Wing’s specialized fleet.

The arrival of Cannon’s first AC-130J Ghostrider on July 19 represents a significant expansion of force generation capacity as the Air Force Special Operations Command structures for the reemergence of great power competition, the 27th SOW said in a release.

The AC-130J is a heavily modified C-130J aircraft capable of performing close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance.

“The engines are more powerful, the engines are more efficient. A more accurate weapons system and precision guided munitions. The lethality has increased exponentially.” said Maj, Ryan Whitehead, 27th Special Operations Group AC-130J Ghostrider circraft commander.

The AC-130J is the fifth generation gunship replacing the fleet of AC-130U Spooky and AC-130W Stinger II gunships. AC-130 gunships have an extensive combat history dating back to Vietnam where gunships destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and were credited with many life-saving, close air support missions.

“The AC-130J has been built on the backs of giants, evolving from four variants of the AC-130 to the AC-119 and AC-47. The Air Commands who fly, maintain, and support the AC-130J are committed to continuing that proud heritage by developing into a force that presents challenges to our nation’s adversaries in new ways and places” said Lt Col Saylor, 27 SOG Detachment 2 commander.

This aircraft will increase capacity requirements while bringing diverse technology ensuring the platform’s relevance for decades to come.

USSOCOM is developing AC-130J through the integration of modular components onto existing MC-130J aircraft. The modular components include a dual-console mission operator pallet (MOP) in the cargo bay that controls all subsystems with remote displays and control panels on the flight deck; internal, pallet-mounted 30 mm side-firing chain gun and 105 mm cannon; wing-mounted GBU-39/B GPS-guided small diameter bombs and AGM-176 Griffin laser-guided missiles. The command also plans to eventually equip the Ghostriders with directed energy weapon systems or lasers, as they are more commonly known.