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The first new Lockheed Martin AC-130J Commando III Gunship aircraft in production 2507121

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World Aviation Industry News - Lockheed Martin
 
 
The first new Lockheed Martin AC-130J Commando III Gunship aircraft in production.
 
The first MC-130J Commando II that will be converted to become an AC-130J Gunship aircraft is being built at the Lockheed Martin [LMT] C-130 production facility here.
     
The first MC-130J Commando II that will be converted to become an AC-130J Gunship is being built at the Lockheed Martin [LMT] C-130 production facility here.
The first MC-130J Commando II in production.
     
The AC-130J will be equipped with a Precision Strike Package creating the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command’s newest gunship. Sixteen AC-130Js are planned with an Initial Operating Capability scheduled for 2015.

The U.S. Air Force is buying 16 C-130J transports, for $100 million each, for conversion into AC-130J gunships. Equipping the new gunships will nearly double the price, and the first one won't arrive for seven years. These will replace older AC-130H gunships.

The AC-130J will be equipped with more powerful sensors, and armed with a single 30mm autocannon, and multiple launchers for Viper Strike and Griffin guided missiles (and perhaps the larger Hellfire as well). Viper Strike is a 90cm (36 inch) long unpowered glider. The 130mm diameter (with the wings folded) weapon weighs 20 kg (44 pounds). Because the Viper Strike comes straight down, it is better suited for urban warfare. Its warhead weighs only 1.8 kg (four pounds), and less than half of that is explosives. This means less damage to nearby civilians, but still powerful and accurate enough to destroy its target. A laser designator makes the Viper Strike accurate enough to hit an automobile, or a foxhole.