Skip to comments.AP: AC-130 Gunships Returning to Iraq
Posted on 03/03/2006 10:41:34 AM PST by LesbianThespianGymnasticMidget
AN AIR BASE IN IRAQ - The U.S. Air Force has begun moving heavily armed AC-130 airplanes the lethal "flying gunships" of the Vietnam War to a base in Iraq as commanders search for new tools to counter the Iraqi resistance, The Associated Press has learned.
An AP reporter saw the first of the turboprop-driven aircraft after it landed at the airfield this week. Four are expected.
The Iraq-based special forces command controlling the AC-130s, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, said it would have no comment on the deployment. But the plan's general outline was confirmed by other Air Force officers, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Military officials warned that disclosing the location of the aircraft's new base would violate security provisions of rules governing media access to U.S. installations.
The four-engine gunships, whose home base is Hurlburt Field in Florida, have operated over Iraq before, flying from airfields elsewhere in the region. In November 2004, air-to-ground fire from AC-130s supported the U.S. attack that took the western city of Fallujah from insurgents. Basing the planes inside Iraq will cut hours off their transit time to reach suspected targets.
The left-side ports of the AC-130s, 98-foot-long planes that can slowly circle over a target for long periods, bristle with a potent arsenal 40 mm cannon that can fire 120 rounds per minute, and big 105 mm cannon, normally a field artillery weapon. The plane's latest version, the AC-130U, known as "Spooky," also carries Gatling gun-type 20 mm cannon.
The gunships were designed primarily for battlefield use to place saturated fire on massed troops. In Vietnam, for example, they were deployed against North Vietnamese supply convoys along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, where the Air Force claimed to have destroyed 10,000 trucks over several years.
The use of AC-130s in places like Fallujah, urban settings where insurgents may be among crowded populations of noncombatants, has been criticized by human rights groups.
The slow-moving AC-130s also offer an intelligence gathering advantage in the Iraq fight: sophisticated long-range video, infrared and radar sensors.
American commanders are marshaling all available tools to detect the Iraqi insurgents' stealthy operations, especially at night, when they plant roadside bombs targeting American road patrols and convoys.
The Air Force's senior tactical commander in Iraq said the AC-130 can be both a high-intensity and low-intensity weapon.
"It's got tons of guns, and it's got all kinds of stuff on it that can be applied to the problems you have," Brig. Gen. Frank Gorenc, who refused to discuss the current AC-130 deployment, said in an AP interview.
That "stuff" includes "the ability to take these high-tech pods and to use them to find guys planting (bombs) and to find other nefarious activity," he said.
The Predator drone the MQ-1 unmanned aerial vehicle has been a reconnaissance workhorse in Iraq, but Air Force officers say they don't have enough to meet demand for missions. The fiscal 2007 Defense Department budget proposed last month by the Bush administration envisions spending $1.6 billion on additional reconnaissance drones.
Things that go "bang" in the night eh?
Hell, if they think they were lethal in Vietnam, they should get a load of them now!!!!! AF gunners bump!
AC-130s practicing out of Eglin make for a fantastic fireworks show while you're out in the wet.
Hair, teeth, and eyeballs...coming to a theatre near you.
Are these the secret updated versions that can hover?........
Anyone care to post some links to video of these puppies in action?
this can't be good news.
Horrible writing in this article. The AC-130 didn't enter service until well after Vietnam was over. The AC-47 "Spooky" was the aircraft used in Vietnam.
Oh dear. Does that mean Iraq is another Vietnam?
Those puppies lay down alot of iron.
Spectre: The Minister of Death from Above.
"Say hello to my little friend"
Spooky, Puff the Magic Dragon or just plain old Puff. No matter what you call it this will definitely put some hurt on the enemy.
God bless our troops wherever they may be.
Heh...How close is Iran?
I would be more worried if they did not bring in more fire power. These things are useless without targets. Apparently, targets will be flushed and eliminated.
Cone of Fire bump!
The AC-130 was fully operational during Vietnam, just not in the current form. Over the course of the Vietnam war, the guns got bigger (and fewer), but it was most certainly in operation.
Entered service: AC-130H: 1972 (AC-130U: 1995) The AC-130 gunship has a combat history dating to the Vietnam War, where it replaced the AC-47 and the AC-119.
I'm thinking that this might be in response to: "al Qaeda Plotting 'Big Bang' in Iraq..."
Right on the gulf, right?
The AC 130U "Spooky"is the latest weapons platform for that aircraft.
A time exposure taken by USAF Captain Ralph Jones from a Saigon rooftop
showing a pair of 'Spooky' gunships at work on Vietcong positions in Saigon,.
during the 1968 Tet Offensive. (U.S. Air Force photo)
To the best of my knowledge, the AC-47 didn't have an official nickname, but the troops called it "Spooky" or "Puff, The Magic Dragon."
The AC-130H's official nickname is "Spectre". The AC-130U's name is "Spooky II".
And I have to retact what I said earlier - the first AC-130 was deployed in 1972.
Hmmmm... that was my first thought as well.
Originally deployed for firebase support but retasked to the Ho Chi Minh trail through Laos as supply interdiction.
That was it. It was one Bad Dude.
47 was puff, the 130 at that time was super puff.
Seems like a lot of firepower to deal with terrorists planting IEDs.
Correction - the AC-47D's actual nickname or call-sign was "Spooky".
No outpost, village, or position under Spooky's protection was ever lost to the enemy.
I thought that the first of the AC-130s was introduced during the Vietnam war.
Sorry, I don't know how to post a link. This URL has
an intersting graphic showing the firepower.
Could throw a rock in it..........
I was just down at Hurlburt Field recently on C130 business, as a matter of fact. Iraqi insurgents probably will need several additional changes of underwear.
Thank goodness the Associated Press continues to do free intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance work for the enemy.
Man, it sucks that The Army no longer has any decent ocean-view bases. Must be nice ;)
When I was growing up, we called it field 9, some locals still do.