L3 WESCAM was contracted to supply the United States Air Force (USAF) Special Operations Command (AFSOC) with MX-20D electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) designating systems for installation on its AC-130J GHOSTRIDER aircraft.
The AC-130J is a fourth-generation gunship chosen to replace the aging AFSOC fleet of AC-130U/W gunships. Its missions will include close air support and air interdiction. With two MX systems per aircraft, L3’s MX-20Ds will be a key component of the AC-130J’s modified Precision Strike Package.
Additional package equipment includes a mission management console, robust Communications suite, advanced fire control equipment and precision-guided munitions delivery capability. L3 WESCAM’s MX-Series systems can also be found on additional AFSOC platforms.
“This grouping of new orders for L3 WESCAM sensors is a direct reflection of our strategy to drive growth by engineering market-leading products and solutions,” Jeff Miller, President of L3’s Integrated Sensor Systems, sector, said. “Our advanced imaging products are delivered to a diverse international customer base in both the defence and the broader security and public safety markets, and we see a robust pipeline of opportunities globally.”
“With more than 3,600 MX products fielded and an installed base that spans 78 countries, L3 WESCAM remains a sought after, trusted and proven partner,” Mike Greenley, President of L3 WESCAM, added. “We are proud to provide our stabilised MX-Series systems in support of evolving missions carried out by defence agencies at home and abroad.”
On 9 January 2013, the first MC-130J to be converted AFSOC's newest variant of the gunship, the AC-130J GHOSTRIDER, arrived at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), FL/USA. Modifications to the airframe would be completed in 10 months and would be a milestone in the recapitalization of the AC-130H/U fleet. The AC-130J GHOSTRIDER would inherit the AC-130W STINGER II's precision strike package, which was developed to support ground forces in overseas contingency operations. Pairing weapons with a networked battle management system, enhanced communications and situational awareness upgrades the J-Model's ability to deliver surgical firepower. The AC-130J has the speed of the MC-130J, the precision strike capabilities of the AC-130W and carries forward the heritage of the AC-130H/U. AFSOC received its first AC-130J at Hurlburt Field AFB, FL in July 2015, to support testing. Once in frontline use, the model will be equipped with weapons including a 30mm cannon, 105mm cannon, and a variety of precision-guided air-to-surface munitions. The service plans to have an operational fleet of 32 by fiscal year 2021, with the initial capability slated for 2017. Shown: An MC-130J COMMANDO II with the 17th Special Operations Squadron performs a fly by over Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, 14 July 2016. The 353rd SOG led special operations assets and conventional forces from all four branches of the US Armed Forces in a multi-aircraft, joint airborne operation as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016 to strengthen their relationships and interoperability with their partners. (Photo: USAF/2nd Lt. Jaclyn Pienkowski)