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AC-130 Spooky

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AC-130 Spooky
Type Fixed-wing gunship
Manufacturer Lockheed


Introduction 1968, AC-130A

1995, AC-130U

Status In service
Mumber built 43
Cost $132.4 million - US$190 million

"well its that Hercules aircraft, but then some smelly drunk gunners got their hands on it, cut a hole in the side and put a 105mm M102 howitzer on it. Flying gunners? Im not sure about this one boss"

The AC-130 gunship is a heavily-armed ground attack airplane. The basic airframe is manufactured by Lockheed, and Boeing is responsible for the conversion into a gunship and for aircraft support. It is a variant of the C-130 Hercules transport plane. The AC-130 Gunship II superseded the AC-47 Gunship I in Vietnam.

The gunship's sole user is the United States Air Force, which uses AC-130H Spectre and AC-130U Spooky variants. The AC-130 is powered by four turboprops and has an armament ranging from 20 mm Gatling guns to 105 mm howitzers. It has a standard crew of twelve to thirteen Airmen, including five officers (two pilots, a navigator, an electronic warfare officer and a fire control officer) and enlisted personnel (flight engineer, electronics operators and aerial gunners).

The US Air Force uses the AC-130 gunships for close air support, air interdiction, and force protection. Close air support roles include supporting ground troops, escorting convoys, and flying urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against planned targets and targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include defending air bases and other military facilities. The gunship squadrons are part of the Air Force Special Operations Command.


  • General characteristics
    • Crew: 13 Officers: 5 (pilot, copilot, navigator, fire control officer, electronic warfare officer)

Enlisted: 8 (flight engineer, TV operator, infrared detection set operator, loadmaster, four aerial gunners)

    • Length: 97 ft 9 in (29.8 m)
    • Wingspan: 132 ft 7 in (40.4 m)
    • Height: 38 ft 6 in (11.7 m)
    • Wing area: 1745.5 ft² (162.2 m²)
    • Max takeoff weight: 155,000 lb (69,750 kg)
    • Powerplant: 4× Allison T56-A-15 turboprops, 4,910 shp (3,700 kW) each
  • Performance
    • Maximum speed: 260 knots (300 mph, 480 km/h)
    • Range: 2,200 nm (2,530 mi, 4,070 km)
    • Service ceiling: 30,000 ft (9,100 m)


  • AC-130A Project Gunship II
    • 4× 7.62 mm GAU-2/A miniguns
    • 4× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon
  • AC-130A Surprise Package, Pave Pronto, AC-130E Pave Spectre
    • 20 mm Vulcan cannon ammo belt4× 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 and AC-130H Pave Spectre II
    • 2× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon
    • 1× 40 mm L60 Bofors cannon
    • 1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer
  • AC-130U "Spooky" Gunship
    • 1× 25 mm (0.984 in) GAU-12/U Equalizer gatling gun
    • 1× 40 mm L60 Bofors cannon
    • 1× 105 mm M102 howitzer


    • 2× 30 mm Bushmaster II cannon
    • 1× 105 mm M102 howitzer


A new program has been initiated to upgrade the armament of existing AC-130s still in service. The 25 mm GAU-12/U and 40 mm Bofors are to be replaced with two Mk 44 Bushmaster II 30 mm cannons.[11] The first aircraft is completed, with three more to join the fleet by December 2007, and fleetwide modifications complete by 2010. There are also plans to look into replacing the M102 howitzer with a breech-loading 120 mm mortar, and to give the AC-130 a standoff capability using either the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (based on the Hydra 70 rocket), or the Viper Strike glide bomb.

The Air Force has decided to use the Bushmaster for two reasons. First, the 40 mm Bofors gun is becoming progressively more difficult to maintain, with spare parts becoming more difficult to locate. Second, the 25 mm cannon, while a useful weapon, lacks ammunition with an air-burst capability and suffers from too much scatter; procuring the most desirable types of ammunition for the 30 mm Bushmaster is much easier.


The PGM-38/U Enhanced 25mm High Explosive Incendiary (HEI) round was created to expand the AC-130U gunships' mission in standoff range and survivablility for its GAU-12/U 25mm gun system. This round a combination of the existing PGU-25 HEI and a M758 fuse designated as FMU-151/B to meet the MIL-STD-1316. The FMU-151 has an improved arming delay with multi-sensitive range.

  • Production - 15 million 25mm rounds; 6 million M758 fuzes
  • Construction - thin walled steel
  • Type - composite explosive incendiary charge
  • Fuse armed - pre-armed 162.5ft (50 m) from muzzle, fully armed 656ft (200m) from muzzle
  • Cartridge:
    • Weight - 492g
    • Center of gravity - 135mm
    • Propellant wt - 92g
  • Projectile:
    • Weight - 184g
    • Fuse - 19g
    • Explosive - 330.2g
    • Center of gravity - 50.1mm
  • Variants:
    • M793 25mm companion training round/target practice cartridge

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