According to Defense News, industry insiders in attendance at the annual SOFIC conference in Tampa, Florida were informed that SOCOM wants to add a forward-facing gun and improved armor for its 50 CV-22 Ospreys, in addition to Hellfire missiles for the AC-130 fleet and frequency jammers which could be used on both platforms for various missions.
SOCOM is concerned about the cost of such upgrades, however.
“If you’ve got a million dollar widget you want to put on the [Osprey] — there’s 50 of them. We can’t afford a $50 million program,” Lt. Col. John DiSebastian, SOCOM’s C-130 and CV-22 program director, said Wednesday. “But if you’ve got a $100,000 or a $50,000 widget that can improve the sustainment, capability, or ops of the aircraft, then bring that to us.”
Plans for Osprey upgrades were accelerated after three AFSOC Ospreys took severe fire over Juba, South Sudan, Defense News said. Four Marines were injured in that attack. Armor and firepower upgrades are now paramount.
As far as the AC-130 gunship is concerned, Defense News says SOCOM has developed a laser-guided small diameter bomb which will be fielded this summer, in addition to fitting Hellfire missiles.
At SOFIC, SOCOM also announced they were looking at using helmet-mounted displays, digital map upgrades, and mobile devices for mission planning, Defense News said.