U.S. Air Force MC-130J Command IIs assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron fly in formation Feb. 17, 2016, off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. The 17th SOS conducted a unit-wide training exercise which tasked the entire squadron with a quick-reaction, full-force sortie involving a five-ship formation flight, cargo drops, short runway landings and takeoffs, and helicopter air-to-air refueling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Peter Reft/Released)
The Air Force has received an upgraded version of its Ghostrider gunship.
The 4th Special Operations Squadron, 1st Special Operations Wing, at Hurlburt Field, Florida, received its first AC-130J Ghostrider Block 30 gunship this week during a ceremony at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, Florida, Air Force Special Operations Command said in a news release Thursday.
In the five years since the Air Force converted an MC-130J Combat Shadow II into a next-generation AC-130J Ghostrider ground-attack aircraft, Air Force Special Operations Command hasn’t been able to stop bulking up the airframe’s weapons systems. They added a 105mm cannon and are even considering the future installation of a frickin’ laser beam to make the Ghostrider “the ultimate battle plane” for close air support; the Ghostrider's muscular arsenal has led AFSOC officials to call it “a bomb truck with guns on it.”
A portion of the Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II squadrons may end up grounded over the next few years due to desperately-needed wing replacements, with some of the aircraft stuck on the tarmac as early as fiscal year 2018, the head of Air Force Material Command announced on Sept. 20.
The AC-130J Ghostrider, the next-generation gunship the Air Force once dubbed its “ultimate battle plane” and “a bomb truck with guns,” will be ready to rain hellfire down on unsuspecting enemies by the end of September, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command announced on Sept. 19.
Buried in the Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2018 budget request released in May was deadly surprise for U.S. troops downrange: After years of debate, the Air Force called on Congress to “fully fund the entire fleet” of 283 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, including $17.5 million in investment funding to help modernize the Air Force’s squadrons of the beloved Warthog attack aircraft.