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US Air Force takes first Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider gunship

  • 15 March, 2019
  • SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com
  • BY: Garrett Reim
  • Los Angeles

The US Air Force’s (USAF) 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida took delivery of the first Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider gunship on 6 March.

The Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider gunship is to replace the AC-130U Spooky gunship, which is slowly being retired from active duty after more than 20 years of operation.

Similar to the Block 20 AC-130J gunships already flown by the USAF, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) says the Block 30 upgrade marks a major improvement in software and avionics technology over the current fleet of Block 20s. The gunships are based on the medium-lift Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules cargo aircraft.

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Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider gunship

US Air Force

The new gunship is equipped with a precision strike package, which includes a mission management console, a more robust communications suite, two electro-optical/infrared sensors, advanced fire control equipment, a precision-guided munitions delivery capability, as well as trainable 30mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II and 105mm M102 howitzer weapons onboard. Additional improvements include updated crew seats with added safety features and a relocation of equipment into more optimal locations, says the special operations command.

“The Block 30 AC-130J is now our most lethal aircraft in AFSOC's inventory,” says Major Brandon Hughes, AFSOC headquarters AC-130J requirements chief.

The 4th Special Operations Squadron, which currently operates the AC-130U Spooky, has been the most deployed squadron in the USAF since 9/11, says the AFSOC. The gunships are used for close air support and air interdiction missions on behalf of special operations troops.

The Block 30 AC-130J Ghostrider reached initial operational capability in 2017, but will continue to be tested for about one year before it becomes operationally deployable, says the AFSOC. In the meanwhile, air commandos with the 4th Special Operations Squadron will continue to operate the Spooky until it retires at the end of 2020.

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This and its newest variant is one scary-M-F'er of an airframe. We saw it routinely transiting CYYT from "way over there". Even got an internal tour of the gun ship.

"Puff The Magic Dragon" was the song title of a Jefferson Airplane's 1970's song about a converted C-47 fitted with Gattling guns, circling suspected Viet Cong installations and hammering those sites with tens of thousands of rounds of lead and depleted uranium.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_AC-47_Spooky

Can you imagine a 4" gun firing @ 90 degrees to the direction of flight, back near the vertical stabilizer? The crews told us it was a 'full opposite rudder event."

Edited by Moon The Loon

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I dropped into Goderich one day as I was passing thru and the Columbian Basler was there for some work.

Someone told me it had machine guns on board - which I didn't believe. I guess he wasn't kidding!

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The weapons package on that beast is incredible.  The Museum of the US Air force in Dayton Ohio has a great night photo of one of the earlier variants unleashing on a ground target.  It shows a LOT of lead being placed in a very small space from altitude.  A very impressive machine indeed.

 

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17 minutes ago, boestar said:

The weapons package on that beast is incredible.  The Museum of the US Air force in Dayton Ohio has a great night photo of one of the earlier variants unleashing on a ground target.  It shows a LOT of lead being placed in a very small space from altitude.  A very impressive machine indeed.

 

My neighbor, while stationed  in Colorado Springs was a Spectre Gunship Commander  (C-130) in Vietnam.....said he could put 50 rounds through your bathroom window from 10, 000 feet.

He was a retired L/Col USAF and his hobby was repairing worn washers and dryers. He would have 6-8 machines on his driveway every day tearing them apart and rebuilding them. He took mine and gave me a pair of refurbished machines.......the next day he was over and asked if the next time I flew to Canada if I could bring him back a set of those screwdrivers that fit those damned square holed  screws 😂

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The Robertson screw driver - the best ever invented. Not used in the US as it was a Canadian invention!😡

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2 hours ago, Kip Powick said:

My neighbor, while stationed  in Colorado Springs was a Spectre Gunship Commander  (C-130) in Vietnam.....said he could put 50 rounds through your bathroom window from 10, 000 feet.

He was a retired L/Col USAF and his hobby was repairing worn washers and dryers. He would have 6-8 machines on his driveway every day tearing them apart and rebuilding them. He took mine and gave me a pair of refurbished machines.......the next day he was over and asked if the next time I flew to Canada if I could bring him back a set of those screwdrivers that fit those damned square holed  screws 😂

I was looking forward to your story of him putting your old machines out of their misery from 10,000 ft!

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33 minutes ago, QFE said:

The Robertson screw driver - the best ever invented. Not used in the US as it was a Canadian invention!😡

I remember a group of people heading to the desert to disassemble aome aircraft for parts to ship back to Canada.  When the crates arrived to load the parts into they were screwed shut with Robertsons.  There were none to be had anywhere down there.  They had to wait for a shipment of screwdrivers.

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As  Boeing official once said when questioned why Boeing had not gone to the "side-stick"...................

"N I H ", he said.....(Not Invented Here

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