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Air Force Looks to Test Laser Weapon for AC-130J Ground-Attack Aircraft in 2022

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The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) plans to demonstrate a high-energy laser system integrated into its AC-130J Ghostrider aircraft by fiscal year 2022, National Defense Magazine reported Wednesday.

Previously, AFSOC and the Naval Surface Warfare Center conducted ground tests and research into deploying directed-energy weapons into the Ghostrider ground-attack aircraft. Col. Melissa Johnson, program executive officer for fixed-wing programs at USSOCOM, said at the Virtual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference that the planned demonstration will likely utilize a 60-kilowatt laser weapon.

“This is pretty exciting,” she said. “And if it is successful — and we are planning for success — then it will feed into our new requirements and potentially a new program down the road.”

Additional research, development, test and evaluation activities will also commence if the team moves past the demonstration phase, noted Johnson.