Gunship Flip

Air Force Special Operations Command inactivated the 73rd Special Operations Squadron at Cannon AFB, N.M., and transferred its aircraft and personnel to Cannon’s 16th SOS last week, officials announced. “A squadron with almost 100 years of history does not just get inactivated,” 27th Special Operations Group Commander Col. Robert Orris said during the June 12 ceremony. “We will preserve this squadron and its guidon until it begins the next chapter in its phenomenal history,” he added. The 16th SOS operated AC-130H Spectre gunships until the unit’s final airframe retired last month. The 16th SOS now transitions to the AC-130W Stinger II gunship variant, transferred from the former 73rd SOS, according to a release. AFSOC retired the AC-130H and is reshuffling its gunships in preparation to transition to the new AC-130J Ghostrider. The command is retaining 26 legacy gunships, which will be phased out as new AC-130Js enter service.