Dawn of the Ghostrider

The first MC-130J airframe destined for conversion to the Air Force’s new AC-130J gunship configuration arrived for modifications at Eglin AFB, Fla., announced Air Force Special Operations Command officials. Over the next 10 months, technicians will modify the airframe, which touched down at Eglin on Jan. 3, with twin electro-optical sensors, a 30-millimeter cannon, and an all-weather synthetic aperture radar system, states AFSOC’s Jan. 9 release. Officials recently dubbed the new gunship variant the “Ghostrider,” AFSOC spokeswoman Capt. Belena Marquez confirmed to the Daily Report on Wednesday. Conversion of this airframe is expected to be completed in November, enabling initial flight testing by December, according to the release. Marquez said a second MC-130J would arrive at Eglin for conversion in Fiscal 2014. Ghostrider pairs the AC-130W’s precision strike ability with the MC-130J airframe. It will carry low-yield precision weapons specifically optimized for urban engagements, such as small diameter bombs and Griffin mini-missiles, according to AFSOC. The command now plans to acquire 37 AC-130Js under a $2.4 billion recapitalization plan to replace older AC-130Hs, states the release. (Hurlburt report by Raquel Sanchez)