Tuesday, January 31, 2023

U.S. Air Force received first upgraded AC-130J Ghostrider

The 4th Special Operations Squadron, part of the 1st Special Operations Wing, has received an upgraded version of its Ghostrider gunship.

According to a statement released by the U.S. Air Force, the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field has received first Block 30 model of AC-130J Ghostrider gunship for replacing the AC-130U Spooky, that is slowly being retired from active duty after more than 20 years of operation.

“The 4th Special Ops Squadron received its first AC-130J Ghostrider! It’s the first Block 30 model for the U.S. Special Operations Command and Air Force Special Operations Command, marking major technological improvements over the current fleet of Block 20 Ghostriders,” said in an Air Commandos statement. 


The Ghostrider fulfilling the same mission sets as the Spooky but with upgraded avionics, navigation systems and a Precision Strike Package that includes trainable 30mm and 105mm weapons.

The weapon package of new modification includes dual electro-optical infrared sensors, a 30-mm and 105mm cannon, AGM-176A Griffin missiles, all-weather synthetic aperture radar and GBU-39 small diameter bomb capabilities. The sensors allow the gunship to visually or electronically identify friendly ground forces and targets at any time, even in adverse weather.

Pairing weapons with a networked battle management system, enhanced communications and situational awareness upgrade the J-Model’s ability to deliver surgical firepower.

According to South Santa Rosa News, the Ghostrider reached its initial operational capability in 2017, and has been operated by the 73rd Special Operations Squadron here since the squadron was reactivated in 2018 as the first-ever AC-130J squadron. This first Block 30 model will be in a testing status for one year before being operationally deployable.

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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
Defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.