AC-130 Spectre / Spooky II Gunship
The Lockheed AC-130 is a C-130 cargo plane converted into a gunship. The port side of the AC-130 houses firing ports for an array of cannons, howitzers and gatling guns.
AC-130 - Role
AC-130s missions are often coordinated by JTAC units on the ground, usually by USAF Combat Controllers (CCTs).
- 2 x 20mm M61 Vulcan cannon
- 1 x 40mm L60 Bofors cannon (120 rpm)
- 1 x 105mm M102 howitzer (6-10 rpm)
- 1 x 25mm GAU-12/U gatling gun (1800 rpm)
- 1 x 10mm M102 howitzer (6-10 rpm)
- AC-130W Stinger II - based on MC-130W Combat Spear + Precision Strike Package more info: AC-130W Stinger II
- AC-130J Ghostrider - based on MC-130J Commando II + Precision Strike Package more info: AC-130J Ghostrider
AC-130 Operational History
- 1960s/70s - Vietnam / Laos
- 1983 - Grenada - Operation Urgent Fury
- 1989 - Panama - Operation Just Cause
- 1991 - Persian Gulf - Operation Desert Storm
- 1993 - Somalia - Operation Restore Hope
- 1995 - Bosnia - Operation Deliberate Force
- 2001 - Present - Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom
- 2003 - Present - Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom
A total of 7 AC-130s have been lost during combat operations, including 5 over South East Asia, 1 during Desert Storm and 1 over Somalia, 1993.
AC-130 Spectre Resources
- ac-130 gunship gallery
- ac-130 gun camera video
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During the 1950s the C-130 Hercules was originally designed as an assault transport, but it was adopted for a variety of missions. The C-130 primarily performs the intratheater portion of the airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for paradropping troops and equipment into hostile areas. Basic and specialized versions perform a variety of roles including airlift support, DEW Line and Arctic resupply, aeromedical missions, aerial spray missions, fire-fighting duties for the US Forest Service, and natural disaster relief missions.
Four decades have elapsed since the Air Force issued its original design specification, yet the remarkable C-130 remains in production. It is the preferred transport aircraft for many US Government services and over 60 foreign counties. The basic airframe has been modified to hundreds of different configurations to meet an ever-changing environment and mission requirement. The C-130 Hercules has unsurpassed versatility, performance, and mission effectiveness. Early C-130A, B, D and E versions are now retired.
The AC-130A Spectre is a C-130 that was converted to a side-firing gunship, primarily for night attacks against ground troops. The AC-130A was equipped with two 40mm cannons, two 20mm Vulcan cannons and two 7.62mm miniguns.
Warner Robins Air Logistics Center is responsible for program management and logistics support for all USAF C-130s worldwide. The Museum’s AC-130A was accepted by the USAF in September 1956 as a standard cargo aircraft serving the U.S., Europe and Panama. In 1970 it was converted to an AC-130A gunship, deployed to Southeast Asia in 1971 and flew numerous combat missions, returning to the U.S. in June 1975. In 1991 it deployed to the Persian Gulf and participated in Desert Storm combat operations before being retired and flown to the Museum in 1995.
SPECIFICATIONS: Span: 132 ft. 7 in. Length: 96 ft. 10 in. Height: 38 ft. 6 in. Weight: 124,200 lbs. max Armament: Two 7.62mm mini-guns, two 20mm and two 40mm cannons Engine: Four Allison T-56-A-9D turboprops of 3,750 hp. ea. Cost: $3,646,734 Serial Number: 55-0014
PERFORMANCE: Maximum speed : 380 mph. Cruising speed: 335 mph. Range : 2,500 miles Service ceiling: 33,000 ft.
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AC-130A crew reunited with “Spectre 17” Gunship 50 years after it was hit by 57mm round over Vietnam
Along with the structural damage, the 57 mm also created a three-foot hole in the weapons control booth of AC-130A “Spectre 17” – and Chandler was falling through it.
Collectively, members of the “Spectre 17” aircrew would say Mar. 4, 1972, was both the luckiest and unluckiest day of their lives.
“I’ve lived most days of my life since then just being happy that I’m alive,” Gary Chandler recalled.
As explained by Airman 1st Class Natalie Fiorilli, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, in the article From boring to unimaginable: Vietnam-era crew recalls famed Spectre 17 flight , Chandler, a retired US Air Force Col., served as an infrared sensor operator on board the AC-130A Spectre Gunship, now referred to as ‘Spectre 17’ for its call sign. The crew, assigned to the 16th Special Operations Squadron, were operating a combat mission supporting Operation Commando Hunt, a campaign of the Vietnam War .
Compared to other missions they had flown, the night of Mar. 4 started as a slow night, Chandler said.
“It went from boring to unimaginable in about a split second,” said Chandler.
The crew saw two large flashes illuminate the ground below. Enemy anti-aircraft artillery had struck their gunship, causing severe damage to the structure of the aircraft.
“I never saw anything like it,” said Lee DeRosa, an electronic warfare officer on board Spectre 17. “It looked like the Fourth of July.”
In the moments following the explosion, the cockpit filled with smoke and heat.
“I could barely see the copilot,” noted David Hobgood, aircraft commander of Spectre 17.
Likewise, the blast left the crew members in the back of the aircraft disoriented.
“Out of nowhere, there was this blinding light,” said Chandler. “I thought maybe the whole aircraft had blown up. I had no idea what happened.”
Along with the structural damage, the 57 mm also created a three-foot hole in the weapons control booth – and Chandler was falling through it.
“I opened my eyes just a bit to try and see what was going on, and realized that I was looking at floor level, and I couldn’t quite figure out why,” Chandler said.
Crew members near the booth quickly worked to respond to Chandler, pulling him from the hole and using rags and rope they found nearby to apply tourniquets to his injuries.
The infrared sensor operator had injuries to both legs and feet and also had several broken bones.
Unsure of the aircraft’s ability to land, the aircrew would go on to secure themselves after treating Chandler’s wounds.
Inside the cockpit, Hobgood remembers preparing for a crash landing.
“I was absolutely shocked that the gear came down and held,” Hobgood said, adding that it was a surprisingly smooth and uneventful landing.
Following their arrival at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand, injured crew members were transported for medical care.
However, the majority of the Air Commandos would take to the skies in the next hours and days following the incident.
“We all flew,” said Hobgood. “That’s what we did.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the famed flight.
As noted by Alert5 , to commemorate the event, the crew reunited on Mar. 3, 2022, by revisiting the aircraft, which is now on display at the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park at Hurlburt Field , Florida.
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 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.
All gunships evolved from the first operational gunship, the AC-47, to the AC-119, and then the AC-130A which was the basis for the modern C-130 Hercules gunship .
Photo credit: Senior Airman Jonathan Valdes Montijo / U.S. Air Force
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Ac-130h spectre ac-130u spooky.
The AC-130H Spectre gunship's primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. Other missions include perimeter and point defense, escort, landing, drop and extraction zone support, forward air control, limited command and control, and combat search and rescue.
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 periods, at night and in adverse weather.
During Vietnam, gunships destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and were credited with many life-saving close air support missions. AC-130s suppressed enemy air defense systems and attacked ground forces during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. This enabled the successful assault of Point Salines airfield via airdrop and airland of friendly forces.
The gunships had a primary role during Operation Just Cause in Panama by destroying Panamanian Defense Force Headquarters and numerous command and control facilities by surgical employment of ordnance in an urban environment. As the only close air support platform in the theater, Spectres were credited with saving the lives of many friendly personnel.
During Operation Desert Storm, Spectres provided air base defense and close air support for ground forces. AC-130s were also used during Operations Continue Hope and United Shield in Somalia, providing close air support for United Nations ground forces. The gunships have most recently played a pivotal role during operations in support of the NATO mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, providing air interdiction against key targets in the Sarajevo area.
The AC-130 is an excellent fire support platform with outstanding capabilities. With its extremely accurate fire control system, the AC-130 can place 105mm, 40mm and 25mm munitions on target with first round accuracy. The crew of these aircraft are extremely proficient working in military operations in urban terrain [MOUT] environments.
The AC-130H ALQ-172 ECM Upgrade installs and modifies the ALQ-172 with low band jamming capability for all AC-130H aircraft. It also modifies the ALQ-172 with engineering change proposal-93 to provide increased memory and flight line reprogramming capabilities. The Air Force [WR-ALC/LUKA] issued a sole source, fixed price contract, to International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT) for development of low band jammer and subsequent production. Issue a competitive, firm fixed price contract for the Group A modifications (preparing aircraft to receive jammers).
Currently funded weight reduction and center of gravity (CG) improvements to the AC-130H aircraft include: redesign of 40mm and 105mm ammo racks using lighter weight materials; reverse engineering of 40mm and 105mm trainable gun mounts using lighter weight material; and removal of non-critical armor. These efforts are performed by a sole source contract awarded to Rock Island Arsenal.
Continuing the distinguished combat history of side-firing AC-130 gunships, the new AC-130U Spectre gunship is being fielded as a replacement for the AC-130A aircraft. This program acquires 13 new basic C-130H aircraft for modification and integration by Boeing to the AC-130U Gunship configuration. The AC-130U gunship airframe is integrated with an armor protection system (APS), high resolution sensors (All Light Level Television (ALLTV), infrared detection set (IDS) and strike radar), avionics and EW systems, a sophisticated software controlled fire control system, and an armament suite consisting of side-firing, trainable 25mm, 40mm, and 105mm guns. The strike radar provides the first gunship capability for all weather/night target acquisition and strike.
The acquisition program for this new gunship evolved from a Congressional mandate in the mid-1980s to revitalize the special operations force capabilties. Following the contract award to Rockwell in July 1987, the aircraft was first flown on 20 December 1990. FY92 procurement funding was increased to provide the 13th aircraft to replace the AC-130H lost during Desert Storm. Upon completing an exhaustive flight test program at Air Force Flight Test Center from 1991 to 1994 the first aircraft was delivered to AFSOC on July 1, 1994. Boeing�s contract includes: concurrent development, aircraft production, flight test, and delivery. All aircraft have been delivered and the program is transitioning to the sustainment phase. A competitive contract for sustainment was awarded in July 1998.
As a result of the aircraft's success in Operation Enduring Freedom, the Air Force has initiated procurement for 4 additional AC-130U aircraft, to be delivered by FY 2006.
Operation Enduring Freedom saw extensive use of AC-130U "Spooky" aircraft to support special operations and ground forces. Despite being implicated in friendly-fire incidents, the gunships proved crucial to the air campaign because they were able to loiter over the battlefield and strike targets of opportunity. These aircraft benefit from a recent engineering program at the Air Force academy, which determined ways to streamline the AC-130 airframe, decreasing drag, increasing loiter time, and decreasing each aircraft's infrared signature. AFSOC also fit AC-130U aircraft with a video link to download video directly from an orbiting Predator UAV, enabling the gunships to attack targets directly rather than first circling to pinpoint the targets.
The AC-130U is the most complex aircraft weapon system in the world today. It has more than 609,000 lines of software code in its mission computers and avionics systems. The newest addition to the command fleet, this heavily armed aircraft incorporates 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 an All Light Level Television system and an infrared detection set. A multi-mode strike radar provides extreme long-range target detection and identification. It is able to track 40mm and 105mm projectiles and return pinpoint impact locations to the crew for subsequent adjustment to the target. The fire control system offers a Dual Target Attack capability, whereby two targets up to one kilometer apart can be simultaneously engaged by two different sensors, using two different guns. No other air-ground attack platform in the world offers this capability. Navigational devices include the inertial navigation system (INS) and global positioning system (GPS). The aircraft is pressurized, enabling it to fly at higher altitudes, saving fuel and time, and allowing for greater range than the AC-130H. Defensive systems include a countermeasures dispensing system that releases chaff and flares to counter radar infrared-guided anti-aircraft missiles. Also infrared heat shields mounted underneath the engines disperse and hide engine heat sources from infrared-guided anti-aircraft missiles.
The AC-130U P3I program develops and procures modifications that correct softwareand hardware deficiencies of the AC-130U fleet discovered during flight tests and that were outside the scope of the original FY86 contract. These modifications will include the following: combine all necessary software requirements for the System Integration Test (SIT) system and hardware and software improvements for the APQ-180 strike radar system; upgrade the Tactical Situation Map; improve core avionics and computers required for the multi-mission advanced tactical terminal/integrated defense avionics system installation; upgrade the EW suite; and modify the software/hardware required for the trainable gun mounts. The Air Force is replacing the 40 mm gun, unique to the AC-130, with the 30mm GAU-8 to alleviate logistic problems.
The AC-130H/U, AAQ-26 Infrared Detection Set (IDS) Upgrade program modifies the optics on the AN/AAQ-17 Infrared Detection Set (IDS) currently installed on 13 AC-130U and 8 AC-130H Gunship aircraft to the AN/AAQ-26 configuration. The AC-130U wiring, Operational Flight Program (OFP), Control Displays Program (CDP), Trackhandle, bus multiplier (BMUX), control panels, and variable slow rate feature will be modified. The AC-130H will also be modified. Support equipment, spares, and tech data for both aircraft will be modified as required to support the AN/AAQ-26 configuration. Mission requirements dictate a significant enhancement in target detection, recognition, and identification ranges to decrease aircraft vulnerability. A sole source fixed price incentive contract was awared to Raytheon for design, modification, and installation; with directed sub to Lockheed Aerospace Systems Ontario (LASO) for integration of the AN/AAQ-26 on the AC-130H and Rockwell for software integration of the AN/AAQ-26 on the AC-130U.
The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has a requirement for a C-130 engine infrared (IR) signature suppression system to provide Special Operations Forces (SOF) C-130 aircraft with an IR signature reduction equal to or better than existing systems at a lower cost of ownership. The primary difficulties with present suppressor systems are low reliability and poor maintainability. This C-130 Engine Infrared Suppression (EIRS) Program system will be used on AC-130H/U, MC-130E/H/P, and EC-130E aircraft. The key requirements for the Engine IR Suppression system are: (a) improved reliability and maintainability over existing systems to result in lower total cost of ownership; (b) IR signature suppression levels as good as the current engine shield system (aka. Tubs); (c) no adverse impacts to aircraft performance and ability to accomplish SOF missions; (d) complete interchangeability between engine positions and identified aircraft types. The suppressor is expected to be a semi-permanent installation, with removal being primarily for servicing, allowing the aircraft to perform all required missions with the suppressors installed. There will be up to two competitive contracts awarded for the initial phases of development with a downselect to one contractor for the completion of development and production. The contract will contain fixed price options for procurement, installation, and sustainment of the system.
The Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) program develops and procures 60 systems and provides 59 SOF aircraft (AC-130H/U, MC-130E/H) with a DIRCM system capability. The DIRCM system will work in conjunction with other onboard self-protection systems to enhance the aircraft�s survivability against currently deployed infrared guided missiles. Growth is planned to add a capability to detect and counter advanced threats. Execution of this program is in concert with a joint US/UK cooperative development/ production effort with the UK as lead. Development and acquisition of the DIRCM system will be in accordance with UK procurement laws/regulations. UK designation for this program is "Operational Emergency Requirements 3/89." In late 1999, Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract to install Northrop Gruman AN/AAQ-24(V) Nemesis DIRCM systems on U.S. Special Operations Command aircraft. The AN/AAQ-24 confuses hostile IR-tracking missiles by directing IR-energy, generated by instense lamps, at the missile's IR seeker. Northrop Gruman announced all manufacturing work associated with the AN/AAQ-24 complete in early 2001. Continuing research associated with the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) program will develop a laser-based DIRCM to be fielded later in the decade.
Because of its success during Operation Enduring Freedom, the Air Force has begun considering plans to improve AC-130 and to better fill its primary role. Improvements and replacements must be able to loiter over the battlefield and provide precise, intense firepower on demand more accurately, more effeciently, and more responsively from a platform more survivable than the AC-130. Because the AC-130 flies low and slow, the Air Force worries that the AC-130 is particularly vulnerable to the new SAM threat. Proposals to improve the AC-130 include integrating a stand-off attack capability in the form of Hellfire or JSOW missiles, equipping the AC-130 to control and/or launch UAVs for reconaissance and attack, and replacing the AC-130 with a gunship mounted on a different platform. Suggestions include an AC-17, which would be able to fly higher, fly faster, and carry more payload than the AC-130, and the creation of a new, stealthy airframe. Air Force planners are moving away from the "lone-wolf" mentality of AC-130 gunships operating solo to a "wolfpack" mentality where gunships would control a number of assets, included UAVs, UCAVs, and smart weapons, to coordinate attacks. The next generation gunship may be a flying mothership for UAVs. The AC(X) program is moving into an analysis of alternatives phase.
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FRIENDS OF THE FIRST LADY (A-Model Spectre 53-3129) This is the local FWB area Organization that maintains our beautiful A-Model in this pristine condition. There are a lot of chance for you to come out and pitch in to help in keeping our heritage in such a beautiful condition. There are also get togethers and events regularly. If you should have any questions or comments please e-mail us at: firstlady129@ cox.net or call Dennis Rowell at: 850-758-1677
AC-130 Spectre Gunship: The military’s ultimate combat aircraft
The AC-130 Spectre Gunship, AKA Hell in the Sky, is known to be the US Military’s ultimate combat aircraft. The history of the AC-130’s date back as late as Vietnam/Laos and have become a huge part of our combat. This fighter plane that is manufactured by Lockheed and Boeing is operated by the United States Air Force Special Operations. AC stands for attack cargo, which is one of the purposes of this combat aircraft. The main reason for the AC-130 is to gather close air support for other troops.
Besides being close to land in air support, the AC-130 Spectre Gunship has many other important roles within the military. Some other key roles they play are armed reconnaissance, pre-planned air to land strikes, and being a defense patrol in the air for other bases. This battle plan is a scary sight, the wingspan is around 132 feet and stretches 97 inches in length. These AC-130’s are a hard sight to miss in the air.
The AC-130 Spectre Gunships have two original variants. The two types were AC-130H(Spectre) and AC-130U(Spooky II). AC-130U is operated by the 4th Special Operations Squadron, controlled by 13 crew members, and fly as high as 30,000 feet. AC-130H is operated by the 16th Special Operations Squadron, controlled by 14 crew members, and can fly as high as 25,000 feet. As of 2014, the AFSOC retired the Spectre model and has since replaced it with AC-130J Ghostrider. The Ghostrider is based on the MC-130J Commando II plus Precision Strike Package making it a lethal piece of machinery.
The AC-130 battle planes are more than just a big defensive patrol in the sky, they have a little extra power behind them. These metal birds in the sky have lots of weaponry to them making them the ultimate combat aircraft. Some of these include; side-firing weapons withing sensor technologies, 105 mm cannon and 25 to 40 battling guns, infrared radar sensors, and many more lethal weapons and features.
With this big plane, you need a big and experienced crew. To start you must have your pilot, co-pilot, and navigator to help fly and guide the plane. Then you have a fire control officer for safety and five electronic warfare officers on deck. Also, need a TV Operator to watch the radar for incoming traffic and problems. Finally, you need an infrared detection set operator, loadmaster, and four ariel gunners ready for travel and combat.
As mentioned earlier the AC-130 Spectre Gunship has been used in the US Military since the Vietnam War. These AC-130’s took out over more than 10,000 trucks with air support missiles. Although this was the first war this battle plane was used in, it would not be the last. Also was active during Operation Fury in Grenada and in Operation Just Cause in Panama where they destroyed Panama’s Defense Force Headquarters and other controlled bases. These acts in Panama and Grenada awarded the aircrew present the Mackay Trophy and Tunner Award for their courageous efforts.
The AC-130 Gunships have also been a big part of the ongoing war that has occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan. These battle planes were a big part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. AC-130’s provide a big part in direct and indirect aid to ground troops that are on foot, also provide armed reconnaissance. In Iraq, they play a big part in Operation Iraqi Freedom doing the same contributions they did in Afghanistan. The Spectre Ac-130’s have been a big asset in the middle east during our current war history.
Medals of America is now offering a super special Spectre t-shirt this spooky season. The Halloween Spectre T-Shirt has a unique concept of making the “Hell in the Sky”, Spooky II aircraft on this AC-130 t-shirt. In Vietnam, the Spooky Spectre AC-130 was first introduced and has changed airfare strategy in combat. Veterans will appreciate the design for it models the Vietnam Spectre Spooky logo that is seen on patches and other insignia.
To receive the nickname “Hell in the Sky” you have to be one bad man. For that name to be given to a specially operated battle plane, is even scarier. The AC-130 Spectre Gunship is one of the more essential aircraft, not only in the US Air Force but the entire United States Military. If you have seen an AC-130 plane or not I think you can now come to the conclusion or visualize that it is the ultimate combat aircraft.
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