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An AC-130U Spooky Gunship assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., flies over surrounding areas for local area training proficiency. Air Force photo by SrA.  Andy M. Kin.​

The Air Force should consider entering initial operational test and evaluation of the AC-130J Ghostrider gunship with an eight-person crew instead of the planned nine “to more accurately evaluate tactics and workloads,” according to the Fiscal 2014 Director, Operational Test, and Evaluation report, released Jan. 20. US Special Operations Command is creating the AC-130J by adding a modular precision strike package onto existing MC-130J aircraft. The third test aircraft, which is expected to complete modification in mid-Fiscal 2016, will include a 105 mm gun. As a result, the Air Force planned to upgrade the seven-member crew to nine and change some crew responsibilities. Future updates also include a laser-guided variant of the Small Diameter Bomb and wing-mounted, laser-guided Hellfire missiles, states the report. The Ghostrider will not be able to refuel other aircraft, although it will maintain its ability to be refueled in flight. The AC-130J will replace legacy AC-130H/U variants. (DOT&E full report; Caution, large-sized file.)