Future Gunship Makes Inaugural Flight

The first MC-130J special-mission aircraft slated for conversion to the Air Force’s new AC-130J gunship configuration made its maiden flight this week from Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Marietta, Ga., announced the company. This airframe will feature the modular Precision Strike Package, a scalable weapons and sensor suite already carried on Air Force Special Operations Command’s MC-130Ws. It is scheduled to fly as a gunship in early 2014, according to the company’s Dec. 4 release. Lockheed Martin announced in July that it had begun assembling this airframe in Marietta. The Air Force intends to acquire 16 new-build AC-130Js under a $1.6 billion recapitalization project meant to replace its legacy AC-130Hs and provide additional gunship capacity. The AC-130J fleet is slated to commence operations in 2015. Lockheed Martin noted that the Air Force has a requirement for 37 AC-130Js.