Lockeed AC-130 Gunship

The Lockheed AC-130 gunship is a powerhouse of munitions. It is a long-endurance ground-attack variant of the C-130 Hercules aircraft, of which one can envision the size of such a fighting machine.

It is used mostly as air support to assist troops on the ground. Such is the case with the Kurd takeover of Mosul, Iraq from ISIS. The Kurds supplied the ground forces and under U.S. cover, were able to liberate the city. Needless to say, the air support were mainly AC-130 gun ships. The AC-130 was also used frequently during the Vietnam War.

The AC-130 is a propeller driven aircraft that carries a wide array of anti-ground weapons. The AC-130 (and its variants) can carry a 25 mm GAU-12 Equalizer, one Bofors 40 mm autocannon and one 105 mm M102 cannon. Together, with its sophisticated sensors, navigation, and fire control systems, it is an awesome fighting machine that can strike hard at enemy ground forces, allowing allied troops to advance.

Flying at just 7,000 feet, the AC-130 does not use GPS or coordinate tracking to attack their target; rather, the plane relies solely on spotting the enemy visually.

One might wonder how an aircraft that flies so close to the ground can maneuver without being attacked. One of the answers is the use of ‘Angel Flares’. These are high intensity flares used to repel heat seeking missiles. A pattern forms that allows the flares to act as decoys.

AC-130 Gunship
‘Angel Flares’ used as a defensive measure to ward off incoming missiles

The armament is as follows for the AC-130 Gunship and its variants:

AC-130A Project Gunship II

  • 4 × 7.62 mm GAU-2/A miniguns
  • 4 × 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan 6-barrel Gatling cannon

AC-130A Surprise Package, Pave Pronto, AC-130E Pave Spectre

  • 2× 7.62 mm GAU-2/A miniguns
  • 2× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon
  • 2× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon

AC-130E Pave Aegis

  • 2× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon
  • 1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon
  • 1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer

AC-130H Spectre

  • 1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon
  • 1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer

AC-130U Spooky II

  • General Dynamics 25 mm (0.984 in) GAU-12/U Equalizer 5-barreled Gatling cannon
  • 1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon
  • 1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer

AC-130W Stinger II / AC-130J Ghostrider

  • 1x 30 mm ATK GAU-23/A autocannon
  • 1x 105 mm M102 Howitzer (AC-130J Ghostrider only, fired out the back of the aircraft via a modified rear ramp.)
  • ‘Gunslinger’ weapons system with launch tube for AGM-176 Griffin missiles and/or GBU-44/B Viper Strike munitions (10 round magazines)

Wing mounted, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs) and/or GBU-53/B SDB IIs[4] (4 per hardpoint on BRU-61/A rack)

This video shows the AC-130 Spectre Gunship in action over Afghanistan in 2014

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