HURLBURT FIELD, Fla., Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Work to convert a Lockheed Martin MC-130J Combat Shadow II into the newest U.S. Air Force gunship variant is set to begin.
The Air Force said the first MC-130J Combat Shadow II will undergo air frame modifications over a 10-month period at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
The resultant AC-130J Ghostrider will be used by the Air Force Special Operations Command for close air support of ground forces. Its weaponry will include the AC-130W Stinger II's precision strike package, which includes dual electro-optical infrared sensors, a 30mm cannon, griffin missiles, all-weather synthetic aperture radar and small diameter bomb capabilities.
"These new weapon systems and small diameter bombs will provide over-watch and further standoff distance to cover a wider range of space for our warfighters on the ground," said Maj. Stuart Menn, U.S. Special Operations Command Det. 1 commander.
The Air Force said 37 MC-130J prototypes will be eventually modified as part of a $2.4 billion AC-130J program to grow the future fleet.