Lockheed Martin has delivered the last of 12 new-build AN/AAQ-39 electro-optical/infrared targeting systems for Air Force AC-130U gunships, announced the company last week. Lockheed received the contract in July 2008 to supply the 12 Q-39 full production units. Delivery of them began last July. “Q-39 provides improved positive combat identification for AC-130U aviators,” said Joseph Butera, senior program manager of airborne systems for Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Control business unit. “Precision fire control allows warfighters to confidently engage threats at safe standoff ranges and return safely to base.” The Q-39, which is integrated in a stabilized turret, improves upon Lockheed’s Gunship Multispectral Sensor System, or GMS2, with new features like a solid-state, three-color laser designator. In addition to the 12 Q-39s, Lockheed is under contract to upgrade five GMS2 units to the Q-39 configuration. Their deliveries will conclude next year, according to the company.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.