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​An AC-130J Ghostrider gunship performs a routine training mission at Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 17, 2016. Air Force photo by SSgt. Christopher Callaway.

​An AC-130J Ghostrider released the first laser-guided Small-Diameter Bomb at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in October, checking off a major milestone in the test phase of the aircraft, according to a Dec. 2 release. Once the aircraft is declared combat-ready, the Ghostrider "will give commanders substantially more strike options, ground forces more protection, and some respite to the heavily tasked gunship community, which is carrying a heavy burden as we undergo an AC-130 transition that last years,” said Lt. Col. Brett DeAngelis, commander of the 1st Special Operations Group Det. 2. The detachment is tasked with conducting operational tests on the Ghostrider and with training aircrews on new tactics, techniques, and procedures for the aircraft. The first prototype AC-130J gunship was declared a total loss after departing controlled flight and overstressing the airframe during a test flight at nearby Eglin Air Force Base. The Air Force delayed initial operational testing and evaluation earlier this year following the mishap, but DeAngelis said he is confident the new timeline of late summer 2017 can be met.