Skip to comments.The U.S. Air Force's New AC-130 Gunships Are Really Bomb Trucks
Posted on 06/03/2014 11:55:09 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
The AC-130 flying gunship fleet is one of the most fabled and feared assets in the entire USAF inventory. Known for its ability to unleash a broadside of cannon fire in the dead of night, the newest of the AC-130 lot is more about smart bombs than raining lead and howitzer shells down on the enemy.
Before the turn of the decade it became clear that the aging AC-130 fleet was in low supply and exceedingly high demand. As a result the Air Force Special Operations Command decided that it should augment the existing fleet on AC-130H and AC-130Us in the short term, as well as replace a portion of them in the long term.
The outcome of this decision was to outfit a portion of the MC-130W Dragon Speer special operations Hercules aircraft with a semi-modular kit called the Precision Strike Packages (PSP), similar to but more elaborate than the Marine's Harvest Hawk kit, which would give these Hercules the ability to perform Close Air Support (CAS), ISTAR (Information, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance), armed over-watch and support Special Forces missions without having to buy an entirely new aircraft. In the longer term the AC-130J, based entirely on the newer and much improved Super Hercules platform, would replace older AC-130Hs that had reached the end of their service lives.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com ...
Puff the Magic Dragon!
I can remember in the early 60s watching a firepower demonstration at Eglin. One thing which was a crowd pleaser was they would have a Hercules land in an overgrown field, reverse it’s props and just before stopping on a dime, it would then roar away again.
That was over 50 years ago.
Yet they can’t find the money to upgrade to an AC-130J.
Me likey. Fire from above. Oooowww Raahhhh! Pity any fool inside the circle.
Kinda wonder why back during B-17’s massive bomb runs to Germany they didn’t have several “Old Lady 666” kind to fight off the German fighters?
This is the absolutely wrong approach. Keep costs down and use dumb weapons. Scare the crap out of the enemy, screw collateral damage. Muslims should either be dead, crippled or submitting in fear. Do this without raising my taxes.
This weapons system is intended for the Tea Party...
First flew in 1955.
Who are they going to use this on? US?
Watched “Puff’s” work in the Delta many times -—AWESOME!
I fear you are right.
The problem is that gunships like these often hit targets that are in close contact with US forces.
The precision is required to reduce the risk of killing friendlies.
They did... (and it didn’t work very well)
Puffs were c-46 and c-47s.
... and ManPads are making the AC-130’s job increasingly hazardous. Using PGM’s in lieu of mini-guns and the lightweight cannon is a way to gain a little more stand-off range. But that complicates things as Close Air Support becomes, err, a little more distant.
My favorite AC-130:
The AC-130A Spectre is a C-130 converted to a gunship, primarily for night attacks against ground targets. To enhance its armament’s effectiveness, it used various sensors, a target acquisition system, and infrared and low-light television systems. The versatile C-130 Hercules, originally designed in the 1950s as an assault transport, was adapted for a variety of missions, including weather mapping and reconnaissance, mid-air space capsule recovery, search and rescue, ambulance service, drone launching, mid-air refueling of helicopters, and as a gunship. The C-130 could transport up to 92 combat troops and their gear or 45,000 pounds of cargo. Where facilities were inadequate, the Hercules could deliver cargo by parachute or by a using a low-altitude parachute extraction system without landing.
The crew of this AC-130A Spectre gunship, named Azrael (Azrael, in the Koran, is the angel of death who severs the soul from the body) displayed courage and heroism during the closing hours of Operation Desert Storm. On Feb. 26, 1991, Coalition ground forces were driving the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. Azrael was sent to the Al Jahra highway between Kuwait City and Basrah, Iraq, to intercept the convoys of tanks, trucks, buses and cars fleeing the battle. Facing numerous enemy batteries of SA-6 and SA-8 surface-to-air missiles, and 37mm and 57mm radar-guided anti-aircraft artillery, the crew attacked the enemy skillfully, inflicting significant damage on the convoys. The crew’s heroic efforts left much of the enemy’s equipment destroyed or unserviceable, contributing to the defeat of the Iraqi forces. On Feb. 28, 1991, Iraq agreed to a cease-fire.
Is the AC-130J going to be longer and more loiter time?
Specifications | AC-130JPrimary Function: Fixed-wing overwatch and close-air-support aircraft
Prime Contractor: Lockheed Martin Corp.
Power Plant: 4x Rolls-Royce AE-2100D3 turboprop engines with 4,591 shp each
Wingspan: 132 ft 7 in (40.41 m)
Length: 97 ft 9 in (29.79 m)
Height: 38 ft 9 in (11.81 m)
Weight (Empty): Unknown
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 164,000 lbs (74,390 kg)
Fuel Capacity: Unknown
Speed: Cruise: 335 kts/386 mph (620 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 33,000 ft (10,000 m)
Precision Strike Package (PSP): 10-tube launcher for Special Operations Precision Guided Munitions (SOPGMS)
and a side-mounted Alliant Techsystems Mk 44 Bushmaster 30mm gun.
SOPGMS include the MBDA GBU-44/B Viper Strike and the Raytheon AGM-175 Griffin short-range air-to-surface missile.
Crew: Basic Crew: Three officers (pilot, co-pilot and combat system officer) + two enlisted loadmasters
Price/Unit Cost: $78.4 million flyaway cost (2012)
+ $10 million in special operations conversion costs
+ $19 million for the Precision Strike Package (PSP) - note that these figures exclude training equipment expenses, testing costs etc.
First Flight: Unknown
Deployed: First aircraft purchased in FY 2012. Initial Operating Capability scheduled for 2015.
Aircraft Inventory: No aircraft yet delivered - First AC-130J under construction
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