First Wolf in Transport’s Clothing

Assembly work has begun on Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J gunship at Lockheed Martin’s plant in Marietta, Ga., announced the company. Lockheed Martin is converting an MC-130J Commando II special-mission airplane currently on Marietta’s production line to the gunship configuration via the addition of the modular Precision Strike Package, states the company’s July 23 release. AFSOC’s MC-130W Dragon Spear special-mission aircraft already carry PSP, a scalable weapons and sensor suite. The Air Force plans to purchase 16 new-build AC-130Js under a $1.6 billion recapitalization effort to replace its legacy AC-130Hs and provide additional capacity. The AC-130J fleet is slated to begin initial operations in 2015. With the addition of the AC-130Js, the Air Force plans to have a combined fleet of 33 gunships, including the 17 AC-130Us currently on strength.