- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2015

The U.S. military’s close air support specialist, the AC-130J Ghostrider, may be getting a serious upgrade: laser weapons.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command, told a crowd in Washington, D.C. this week that the time was right to explore directed energy weapons for the gunship, Military.com reported Thursday.

The defense website said that the Air Force previously looked into the technology before former Defense Secretary Robert Gates scrapped the program.

Military.com added that Gen. Heithold’s comments were the first time an Air Force official has put forth the possibility of adding a laser weapon to the AC-130.

The AC-130’s history dates back to the Vietnam War, and the base C-130 “Hercules” cargo plane is older still, having first flown in 1954. The gunship has also seen action in During Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom.

The aircraft can fly up to 300 miles per hour, has a range of roughly 1,300 nautical miles, and a ceiling of 25,000 feet.

SEE ALSO: Navy’s new Laser Weapon System delivers in the Persian Gulf

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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