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The AC-130J Gunship’s First Solid State Laser Weapon Has Arrived For Testing

The U.S. Air Force has taken delivery of the first prototype Airborne High Energy Laser, or AHEL, which is set to be flight tested on one of its AC-130J Ghostrider gunships next year. The service hopes to demonstrate the feasibility of adding this directed-energy weapon to the AC-130J’s already very diverse arsenal, which could give these aircraft a unique capability to engage ground targets silently and stealthily.

Lockheed Martin confirmed yesterday that it had completed factory acceptance testing for the AHEL and then turned the weapon over to the Air Force. The laser will now need to be integrated together with a beam control system, after which ground testing will take place ahead of the installation of the complete weapon system onto an AC-130J.

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