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Lockheed AC-130H/U Spectre/Spooky

posted by Jiri Wagner

The AC-130 gunship's primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and force protection. Missions in close air support are troops in contact, convoy escort and urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include air base defense and facilities defense.

These heavily armed aircraft incorporate side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower or area saturation during extended loiter periods, at night and in adverse weather. The sensor suite consists of a television sensor, infrared sensor and radar. These sensors allow the gunship to visually or electronically identify friendly ground forces and targets any place, any time.

The AC-130U employs synthetic apertures strike radar for long-range target detection and identification. The gunship's navigational devices include the inertial navigation systems and global positioning system. The AC-130U employs the latest technologies and can attack two targets simultaneously. It also has twice the munitions capacity of the AC-130H. The AC-130H's call sign is "Spectre." The AC-130U's call sign is "Spooky," and traces its history to the first operational gunship, the AC-47. The U-model is the third generation of C-130 gunships.

The AC-130 gunship has a combat history dating to Vietnam. Gunships destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and were credited with many life-saving close air support missions. During Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983, AC-130s suppressed enemy air defense systems and attacked ground forces enabling the successful assault of the Point Salines Airfield via airdrop and air land of friendly forces. The AC-130 aircrew earned the Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Award for the mission. AC-130s also had a primary role during Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989 when they destroyed Panamanian Defense Force Headquarters and numerous command and control facilities. Aircrews earned the Mackay Trophy for the most meritorious flight of the year and the Tunner Award for their efforts.

During Operation Desert Storm, AC-130s provided close air support and force protection (air base defense) for ground forces. Gunships were also used during operations Continue Hope and United Shield in Somalia, providing close air support for United Nations ground forces. More recently, gunships played a pivotal role in supporting the NATO mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The AC-130H provided air interdiction against key targets in the Sarajevo area. In 1997, gunships were diverted from Italy to provide combat air support for U.S. and allied ground troops during the evacuation of American noncombatants in Albania. Gunships also were part of the buildup of U.S. forces in 1998 to convince Iraq to comply with U.N. weapons inspections.

General characteristics AC-130H Spectre

Primary function Close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance
Contractor Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Power plant Four Allison turboprop engines T56-A-15
Thrust 4x 4,910 HP 4x 3,661 kW
Length 97 ft 9 in 29.8 m
Height 38 ft 6 in 11.7 m
Wingspan 132 ft 7 in 40.4 m
Wingarea 1,745 sq ft 162.11 sq m
Weight empty 72,890 lb 33,063 kg
max. takeoff 155,000 lb 70,307 kg
Range without refueling 1,500 miles 2,414 km
with refueling unlimited
Ceiling 25,000 ft 7,620 m
Speed cruising 368 mph 592 km/h
max. 380 mph 612 km/h
Initial climb rate 30.5 ft/s 9.3 m/s
Armament Two 20mm Vulcan cannons with 3,000 rounds, one 40mm Bofors cannon with 256 rounds and one 105mm howitzer with 100 rounds, infrared countermeasure flares (2.7MB).
Unit cost $46.4 million (1992 dollars)
Date deployed 1972
Crew 14 - five officers (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, fire control officer, electronic warfare officer); nine enlisted (flight engineer, loadmaster, low-light TV operator, infrared detection set operator, five aerial gunners)
Inventory Active force, 8; Reserve, 0; ANG, 0

 

General characteristics AC-130U Spooky

Primary function Close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance
Contractor Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Power plant Four Allison turboprop engines T56-A-15
Thrust 4x 4,910 HP 4x 3,661 kW
Length 97 ft 9 in 29.8 m
Height 38 ft 6 in 11.7 m
Wingspan 132 ft 7 in 40.4 m
Wingarea 1,745 sq ft 162.11 sq m
Weight empty 72,890 lb 33,063 kg
max. takeoff 155,000 lb 70,307 kg
Range without refueling 2,200 miles 4,075 km
with refueling unlimited
Ceiling 30,000 ft 9,144 m
Speed cruising 368 mph 592 km/h
max. 380 mph 612 km/h
Armament One 25 mm GAU-12 Gatling cannon (1,800 rounds per minute), one L60 40mm Bofors cannon  (100 rounds per minute), one 105mm M102 cannon (6-10 rounds per minute), infrared countermeasure flares
Unit Cost $72 million
Date Deployed 1995
Crew 13 total. Five officers (pilot, copilot, navigator, fire control officer, electronic warfare officer); 8 enlisted (flight engineer, All Light Level TV operator, infrared- detection set operator, four airborne gunners, loadmaster) 
Inventory 13 aircraft assigned to 16th Special Operation Wing's 4th Special Operations Squadron

Press Releases

Boeing Starts AC-130U Gunship Flight Testing / 2007-04-23

 

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Last updated 01.01.2017