Ghostrider Operational Testing Delayed

Testers were unable to complete developmental testing and evaluation and operational assessments of the AC-130J Ghostrider gunship, due to the prototype’s Class-A mishap last year. The incident extended DT&E and OA through last July and curtailed the efforts “without completing the full intended characterization of system capabilities,” according to the director of test and e?valuation’s annual report, released on Feb. 1. The assessment further concluded that the AC-130J “lacked maturity and is at risk to not be ready” for the beginning of operational testing, according to the report. As a result, testers decided to delay Initial Operational Testing and Evaluation until mid-2017. This allows the more operationally representative 105 mm gun-armed Block 20 aircraft to conduct the IOT&E. The program is conducting a scaled-back Operational Utility Evaluation with the Block 10 aircraft “to support an early fielding decision and a Low-Rate Initial Production decision” in mid-2016. The second Block 20 aircraft—airframe five—entered gunship conversion in December, and will support the test program if required. Aircrews are currently training for operational testing at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Test delays aside, Air Force Special Operations Command stated the aircraft should still reach initial operational capability in 2017. (Read the full report; Caution, large-sized file.) (Read the AC-130J section of the DOT&E report.)