AC-130s Get Sensor Upgrade

Lockheed Martin has delivered to the Air Force the first full-production unit of the new AN/AAQ-39 targeting system for the AC-130 gunship, the company announced Thursday. The Q-39 is a sophisticated electro-optical/infrared fire-control system that builds upon the capabilities of the AC-130’s existing multispectral sensor system. “The Q-39 sensor is a game changer; the enemy has nowhere to hide,” states Lt. Col. Patrick Clowney, commander of the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in Lockheed’s release. With it, gunship crews will have “a clearer battlefield picture” that greatly improves their situational awareness, he adds. Joseph Butera, Lockheed’s turreted systems senior program manager, notes that, with the positive combat identification at longer distances that Q-39 enables, “pilots can confidently engage targets while remaining outside the threat’s lethal reach.” Lockheed is under contract to provide 12 full-production units, with deliveries scheduled to be completed in 2011.