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AFSOC receives first AC-130J

An AC-130J Ghostrider crew with the 18th Flight Test Squadron and 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 conduct a pre-flight briefing on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 29, 2015. The 1st Special Operations Wing accepted delivery of Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J, to be flown by the 1st SOG Det. 2 and maintained by the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

An AC-130J Ghostrider crew with the 18th Flight Test Squadron and 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 conduct a pre-flight briefing on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 29, 2015. The 1st Special Operations Wing accepted delivery of Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J, to be flown by the 1st SOG Det. 2 and maintained by the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Master Sgt. James Knight left, 18th Flight Test Squadron aerial gunner, performs a pre-flight inspection with Staff Sgt. Rob Turner right, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 aerial gunner, on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st SOG Det. 2 were hand selected from the AC-130 community for their operational expertise and will begin initial operational testing and evaluation of the AC-130J later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Master Sgt. James Knight left, 18th Flight Test Squadron aerial gunner, performs a pre-flight inspection with Staff Sgt. Rob Turner right, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 aerial gunner, on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st SOG Det. 2 were hand selected from the AC-130 community for their operational expertise and will begin initial operational testing and evaluation of the AC-130J later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Master Sgt. James Knight right, 18th Flight Test Squadron aerial gunner, instructs Staff Sgt. Rob Turner left, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 aerial gunner, on new changes regarding pre-flight inspections in an AC-130J Ghostrider on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st SOG Det. 2 were hand selected from the AC-130 community for their operational expertise and will begin initial operational testing and evaluation of the AC-130J later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Master Sgt. James Knight right, 18th Flight Test Squadron aerial gunner, instructs Staff Sgt. Rob Turner left, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 aerial gunner, on new changes regarding pre-flight inspections in an AC-130J Ghostrider on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st SOG Det. 2 were hand selected from the AC-130 community for their operational expertise and will begin initial operational testing and evaluation of the AC-130J later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Maj. Brian Pesta right, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 pilot (right) and Maj. Jason Fox left, 18th Flight Test Squadron pilot, look out the left window during the delivery flight of Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider to the 1st Special Operations Wing on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The AC-130J recently completed its initial developmental test and evaluation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and will begin initial operational test and evaluation under aircrews of the 1st SOG Det. 2 and 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Maj. Brian Pesta right, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 pilot (right) and Maj. Jason Fox left, 18th Flight Test Squadron pilot, look out the left window during the delivery flight of Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider to the 1st Special Operations Wing on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The AC-130J recently completed its initial developmental test and evaluation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and will begin initial operational test and evaluation under aircrews of the 1st SOG Det. 2 and 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Maj. Jason Fox, 18th Flight Test Squadron pilot, delivers the Air Force Special Operations Commands first AC-130J Ghostrider to the 1st Special Operations Wing on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The AC-130J recently completed its initial developmental test and evaluation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and will begin operational test and evaluation under aircrews of the 1st Special Operations Group Det. 2 and 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Maj. Jason Fox, 18th Flight Test Squadron pilot, delivers the Air Force Special Operations Commands first AC-130J Ghostrider to the 1st Special Operations Wing on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The AC-130J recently completed its initial developmental test and evaluation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and will begin operational test and evaluation under aircrews of the 1st Special Operations Group Det. 2 and 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Maj. Brian Pesta, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 co-pilot, delivers Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider to the 1st Special Operations Wing on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st SOG Det. 2 were hand selected from the AC-130 community for their operational expertise and will begin initial operational testing and evaluation of the AC-130J later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Maj. Brian Pesta, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 co-pilot, delivers Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider to the 1st Special Operations Wing on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st SOG Det. 2 were hand selected from the AC-130 community for their operational expertise and will begin initial operational testing and evaluation of the AC-130J later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

The 18th Flight Test Squadron and 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 worked together to deliver Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider to the 1st Special Operations Wing on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The AC-130J will begin initial operational testing and evaluation from the 1st SOG Det. 2 later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

The 18th Flight Test Squadron and 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 worked together to deliver Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider to the 1st Special Operations Wing on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The AC-130J will begin initial operational testing and evaluation from the 1st SOG Det. 2 later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Capt. Brian Schmidt, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 pilot, raises a flag out of the first AC-130J Ghostrider on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The 1st Special Operations Wing received Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J that will be flown by the 1st SOG Det. 2 and maintained by the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Capt. Brian Schmidt, 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 pilot, raises a flag out of the first AC-130J Ghostrider on Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The 1st Special Operations Wing received Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J that will be flown by the 1st SOG Det. 2 and maintained by the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway)

Hurlburt Airmen watch the arrival of the AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The 1st Special Operations Wing accepted delivery of Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J that will be flown by the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 and maintained by the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released)

Hurlburt Airmen watch the arrival of the AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The 1st Special Operations Wing accepted delivery of Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J that will be flown by the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 and maintained by the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released)

Air Force Special Operations Command receives its first AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The AC-130J recently completed its initial developmental test and evaluation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and will begin operational tests and evaluation by Airmen with the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 and 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released)
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Air Force Special Operations Command receives its first AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The AC-130J recently completed its initial developmental test and evaluation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and will begin operational tests and evaluation by Airmen with the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 and 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released)

Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider taxis under a water arch at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The AC-130J recently completed its initial developmental test and evaluation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and will begin operational tests and evaluation by Airmen with the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 and 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released)
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Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider taxis under a water arch at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The AC-130J recently completed its initial developmental test and evaluation at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and will begin operational tests and evaluation by Airmen with the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 and 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released)

A crowd gathers to view the inside of the Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 were hand selected from the AC-130 community for their operational expertise and will begin initial operational testing and evaluation of the AC-130J later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released)
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A crowd gathers to view the inside of the Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 were hand selected from the AC-130 community for their operational expertise and will begin initial operational testing and evaluation of the AC-130J later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kai White/Released)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The first AC-130J Ghostrider landed here, July 29, making it Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J.

After completing the initial developmental test and evaluation by the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, the aircraft will be flown by the 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 2 and maintained by the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron during its initial operational tests and evaluations at Hurlburt.

“Putting it through these tests will allow us to wring out the AC-130J in a simulated combat environment, instead of the more rigid flight profiles in formal developmental testing,” said Lt. Col. Brett DeAngelis, 1st SOG Det 2 commander. “Now that we know the equipment works when we turn it on, it’s our task to determine the best way to employ our newest asset.”

For most, this new gunship is the future.

“The AC-130J brings new technology to the table for AFSOC with more efficient engines, improved fuel efficiency and the ability to fly higher, further and quieter,” said Master Sgt. Michael Ezell, 1st SOAMXS production superintendent. “Additionally, the modified weapons system it possesses is a precision strike package that was collected from the older models, such as the laser-guided bombs and AGM-176 Griffin bombs, and combined to give us all the capabilities of the AC-130W Stinger II and AC-130U Spooky all in one package.”

The AC-130J is a modified MC-130J Commando II, containing advanced features that will enable it to provide ground forces with an expeditionary, direct-fire platform that is persistent, suited for urban operations and capable of delivering precision munitions against ground targets.

“This is an exciting transition as we move the AC-130J from the test community to the operational community,” said DeAngelis. “While we still have initial operational testing in front of us to accomplish, it will now be done by aircrews selected for their combat expertise, instead of their testing background.”

A cadre of 60 aircrew and maintainers were selected by the Air Force Personnel Center to stand up the program, and there will be an additional 30 contractors to help work on the new gunship.

“We will be training on the airplane, getting all the qualifications and hands-on experience we need to be able to perform operational testing in order to give an exact picture of how this plane will operate in a real-world environment,” said Ezell. “Our focus right now is to learn how to maintain the aircraft and the operators will learn how to fly it and get ready for IOT&E, which should start later this year.”

The Airmen hand-selected to work on the new AC-130J encompass a solid background and level of expertise on C-130Js. The maintenance team cadre came from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Dyess AFB, Texas, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, and Cannon AFB, New Mexico.

“As more AC-130Js are produced and delivered, the older models will slowly be retired,” said DeAngelis. “Until then, we’ll hold on to them while the AC-130J completes operational tests and the fleet becomes abundant in numbers.”

Operational testing is expected to be complete next Spring 2016.
“Det 2’s mission is simple; ‘Get it right,’” said DeAngelis. “And we have the right group of people to do just that.”