Affirmative, Ghostrider the Pattern is Yours

The prototype AC-130J Ghostrider gunship cleared the runway on its maiden post-modification test flight at Eglin AFB, Fla., in late January, according to a Feb. 7 release. “As with any new or highly modified aircraft, the initial goal is to ensure the aircraft design or modification does not adversely affect the flying and handling qualities,” said 413th Flight Test Squadron pilot Maj. Brian Taliaferro. Over the last year, technicians at Eglin modified the basic MC-130J with a precision strike package, including fitment of the 30 mm cannon, Griffin missiles, and ability to carry the Small Diameter Bomb. New mission equipment includes all-weather synthetic aperture radar and dual electro-optical/infrared sensors. Weaponizing the efficient J-model brings “the best two C-130s together in a new weapons system,” said Todd McGinnis, Special Operations Command Det. 1 AC-130J modification manager. Six more test flights are scheduled before operational testing begins. Air Force Special Operations Command plans to convert a total of 32 MC-130Js under the $2.4 billion program to replace legacy gunships.