Second Ghostrider Prototype Delivered for Operational Testing

The second AC-130J Ghostrider gunship prototype was delivered to Hurlburt Field, Fla., in preparation for initial operational testing and evaluation on July 29, 1st Special Operations Group Det. 2 Commander Lt. Col. Brett DeAngelis told Air Force Magazine. The airframe is the first handed over to Air Force Special Operations Command, and incorporates several design changes based on lessons learned during developmental testing. The modifications pushed operational testing to October, with completion expected by next spring, according to a Hurlburt release. “Putting it through these tests will allow us to wring out the AC-130J in a simulated combat environment, instead of the more rigid flight profiles in formal developmental testing” conducted at Eglin AFB, Fla., DeAngelis said in the release. The developmental prototype is still grounded at Eglin, pending the results of an investigation into a Class-A inflight mishap back in April. However, DeAngelis confirmed that the operational test airframe is cleared to fly. “We will be training on the airplane, getting all the qualifications and hands-on experience we need to be able to perform operational testing,” maintenance superintendent MSgt. Michael Ezell added in a release. The second aircraft is also tasked to complete a second developmental test phase ahead of operational testing this fall to validate the several design changes. The Hurlburt test detachment stood up at ?the beginning of July.