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Delta228

AC-130 Specter Gunship

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I saw an AC-130 Specter Gunship at a air show recently, and I was wondering if they are still used by the military for CAS. I thought it would be sweet to see the twin gatling guns ripping up enemy infantry, as well as the Bofors 40mm's.

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Yeah they're used, but as far as I understand they're a valued asset due to the USAF having only eleven of them. I think they've also replaced one or both of the 20mm Gatling guns with an extra 40mm Bofors cannon.

The last time I heard of one of these being used was during the up rise at Qala-i-Janghi, Afghanistan in 2001 when the Spectre was called in by SBS troops to suppress the prisoners rioting (insurgent fighters). I have seen a few videos of the AC-130U in action over Iraq (apparently) and it looked pretty effective.

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I remember one being shot down, can't recall if it was at the start of Gulf War I or II. But that seemed to have quickly soured them on the idea of operating the ship over opponents who had the wherewithal to return fire. I think Steve had once specifically said that was why AC-130 isn't in the game. Syrians just have too many AA asets.

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Yeah, one was lost at the beginning of ops in Gulf War 1 by a SAM.

The reason we didn't include gunships has to do with how they are used. They are a tool of Special Forces, which we don't simulate. Since there are so few of them (25 to cover all military ops, training, and reserves) we felt it wasn't an appropriate platform to include. Lastly, significant code would be needed to get them working in the game correctly.

Our philosophy, since the early days of CMBO, is that when a "unit" of some sort or another is rare, not necessarily directly within the game's scope, AND needs a lot of specialized coding it just isn't worth doing. It's a sort of three strikes rule we have. Rare things that are borderline within scope, but easy to code, have a shot. Common things that are borderline that require special coding also have a shot. Etc.

Steve

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That one getting shot down reminded the airforce that the bird is still a big fat C130. There was a major stink around the SF community because the bird was missused by flying a daylight mission.

It was the Battle of Khafji during ODS. The sortie started off in darkness, but it stayed on station a few minutes too long and got taken out by a Strela.

They were actually dropping the 25mm Gatling guns and the 40mm bofors for two 30mm bushmasters.

That plan was cancelled. Apparently the 30mm guns weren't accurate enough.

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Delta228,

The AC-130H Spectre and AC-130U Spooky are dedicated SpecOps birds designed specifically to operate, in support of SpecOps, in what are known as "permissive air defense environments," Pentagonese for low air defense threat levels. This is understood to mean no fighter threat, no integrated air defense, and MANPADS only SAMs. They are not designed for daylight ops, have no business whatsoever in a typical CAS environment, and are really there to support SpecOps behind enemy lines.

This is despite the origins of the AC-130 series as a truck buster on the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Vietnam War. Here's some info on the bird I worked on as far as threat laydown, for it was Rockwell, North American Aerospace Operations which did the threat and weapon effectiveness work on the AC-130U. Had the customer validated the threat work, it would've exceeded program classification.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/ac-130u.htm

Since I left military aerospace, there has been a new version fielded in small numbers. It features not just improvements to existing capabilities, plus gun changes, but radical improvements in sensors, targeting (now precision strike and multi-target capable), air-to-surface missiles, armor, etc. The AC-130U Spooky +4 marks a significant change as to both capabilities and core design mission. This bird reflects the grim reality that permissive environments are getting harder and harder to come by, as seen in the considerable countermeasures fitted.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/ac-130u-4.htm

Regards,

John Kettler

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I don't know, an AC-130 supported us once in OIF but I'm sure there was an SOF team acting as a liason with the aircraft and our higher HQ.

And there certainly was no AA threat other then small arms.

I would not want it in the game because it is just too dang lethal at this small scale.

When that thing was up there firing it sounded like a tank platoon in the sky just hammering away.

Very impressive.

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tc237,

Makes sense, since it's a SOCOM asset. BTW, the specs for the Spooky are screwed up, for it clearly has a 105mm howitzer fitted. The host of "Future Weapons" got to go on a training mission in a Spooky and fire the 105 at a tank carcass at Eglin. Saw the episode myself, and the craft's armament conforms exactly with the configuration I saw in the spec we worked to at Rockwell.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/ac-130-specs.htm

No idea where the 120mm mortar came from.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/images/ac-130u_image11.jpg

Yes, it's lethal--and deadly accurate, being able to choose which window to put a 40mm round through. Larger problems rate a 105mm solution. Be sure to read what AC-X is shaping up to be. Gulp!

Regards,

John Kettler

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In 'Sniper One' the author recounts the prescence of two Spectre gunships in support of a British battlegroup that assaulted the HQ of the Mehdi Army in Al-Amrah Iraq in mid-2004.

They were much appreciated by the British squaddies. I think he summed them up as 'like having the Gods on our side'. IIRC they were particularly effective at splatting various pick-ups carrying mortars and HMGs that were racing to the scene.

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Black Moria-

"Yes, the AC-130 Spectre are still used. They did see service in Iraq and Afghanistan and I believe they still are used in theatre now."

I can 100% confirm that they are still in theater.

MikeyD

"Syrians just have too many AA asets"

I wish i could have some of those assets! hell give me a crappy outdated manpad it wont kill the enemy but at least it will get him to think twice before engaging. as it stands now as soon as i hear jets i now my armor is done for.

steve-o

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..... Be sure to read what AC-X is shaping up to be. Gulp!

Regards,

John Kettler

Sweet Jesus! Frickin' Lasers.

I didn't know directed energy weapon technology was so far along. I wonder what range the lasers are effective to?

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Be sure to read what AC-X is shaping up to be. Gulp!

I thought AC-X had shaped up to be a C-27J armed with two auto cannons (GAU-12s?) and possibly PGMs, aka AC-27J "Stinger II." Lighter armament, but can be deployed farther forward and stay on station longer. Also easier to integrate new technology.

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I suppose I'll kick in here and say I've been in an Ac130 when it was on a fire mission. This was during training somewhere around the mid-nineties. It was an Ac130 A model, the last one in service (It was like 25-30 years old). Half our team rode on the bird as observers, the other half were on the ground directing fire, since I had done the latter before I opted to ride on the bird. Likewise a few of their guys hung out on the ground w/ the rest of our team. We played w/ their toys, they played with ours. (Not that I got to touch anything in the AC!) IIRC it was a reserve bird out of Hurlburt, but the crew had been in ODS. It was armed w/ a 105, a 40 and two 20mms.

There were 14 crew normally.. Up front you had the flight crew and in the middle of the AC was a little connex shaped box that had all the fire control officers as well as the fire control consoles (BTW these guys were screwed if the crew ever had to bail out). Then there was a number of fire control guys (gunners) a number of whom mainly just used snow shovels to shovel brass into 55 gallon drums when the thing was firing.

Then there were three guys IIRC dedicated to SAM/ADA observation. Two sat up front near the engines on either side where there was a window. They just hung out there observing out and below with a little button they could mash that dispensed countermeasures if something came up. The other guy stood on the ramp, which was opened and he was attached by a monkey harness, again with a little button he could mash to dispense counter measures and warn the crew. I don't know if they always flew around like that, but it was how they ensured as close to 360 degrees eyes-on as they could get.

I spent sometime in the fire control center or whatever it was called, and watched the targeting guys, I could see my buddies on the ground lasing tgts, they all had glint tape on their helmets, not too dissimilar to what you see in the COD4 AC130 missions if you have that game. They were in constant comms with the guys on the ground IDing tgts ensuring no friendlies got blown up.

Anyways up front, the pilot had a HUD out his side window. All the work on the targeting booth resulted in a tgt designator box around the ground tgt and also a reticule for the weapon. The pilot banked the AC at a certain angle and when the two indicators were lined up, he had a trigger on his yoke he depressed to fire the weapons.

While they flew around blowing stuff up they made lots of joking references to star trek, and other what not, a combat crew on a milk run training mission, but for myself I was highly impressed and awed.

This bird was the last of it's kind w/ the new highly computerized H model (again IIRC?) having been phased on, but his crew was highly derisive of the new model and loved their old reliable.

It was a very memorable experience for me...

Los

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Crews are almost never big fans of the crate that replaces theirs. My uncle flew B52's in 'Nam and used to say, "B1?! That's not a bomber, it's a bingo number."

I never got to play around with AC-130's. Lots of A10's and other fast movers but never the Spectre.

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It was the Battle of Khafji during ODS. The sortie started off in darkness, but it stayed on station a few minutes too long and got taken out by a Strela...

I was in AWACS during Desert Storm, flying out of Riyadh. My roommate from back at Tinker AFB, OK was the weapons director (radar controller) who was actually talking to the AC-130 (callsign "Spirit 03") when it was shot down.

The Spectre was working before dawn supporting the Marines, and was supposed to RTB before daylight. My roommate relayed an order from the air operations center in Riyadh for the Spectre to depart before sunrise, but the crew elected to complete a fire support mission.

It was just minutes later that the pilot calmly announced "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday" and informed my friend that a missile had struck the wing, followed by silence.

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I understand that the AC130 is designed for specops but a few soldier testimonies on video claim that they called in the rain using AC130s in Iraq and as far as I can tell these are Marine regulars, and from the testimony there was nothing particularly important about the missions they called in.

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I understand that the AC130 is designed for specops but a few soldier testimonies on video claim that they called in the rain using AC130s in Iraq and as far as I can tell these are Marine regulars, and from the testimony there was nothing particularly important about the missions they called in.

If you have air on station, you might as well use it. It's not like you get a bonus for returning them to base with unexpended ordnance.

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Just a clarification: The new AC-27J is not necessarily the AC-X (though it may end up being just that). The AC-27 is mostly an experiment to try out a smaller gunship, able to operate from smaller airfields closer to the battlefield. Since the AC-130's are in constant demand, the AC-27 may also be a welcome opportunity to try out various weapons and sensors without having to pull a badly needed AC-130 off the line.

The AC-X is more of a wish list for a future gunship: Faster and stealthier than the AC-130, and smaller so it can operate from small airfields. Also with more sophisticated precision guided munitions and non-lethal weapons. Think of it as a B-2 stealth bomber, armed with a laser (which can puncture a tyre or grill a radar on low setting, and melt stuff on high setting, eek!) and lots of tiny smart bombs, and also (very much unlike the B-2) able to operate from small local air strips without an army of mechanics to keep it flying.

The efforts to rearm the AC-130 apparently has to do as much with age as firepower. The 40mm Bofors and the 105mm howitzer are WW2 vintage designs, with little technology being developed for weapons of that caliber. One of the suggestions is a 120mm mortar, not the least because an awful lot R&D money are being poured into 120mm smart mortar rounds. Likewise, the failed experiment with the 30mm cannon had to do with similar R&D efforts into new 30mm munitions.

The 25mm Gatling cannon is apparently not being re-installed on those guships where the 30mm cannon were removed, with cost and spares shortage given as the reason why. Though I can't help thinking that if they can do without it then it probably isn't the most vital weapons system on the AC-130.

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I understand that if it's there use it. The first few posts however, left me with the impression that it wasn't included because it was a weapon used by Spec Ops only so I thought there might have been a bigger scheme for the way they were used in Iraq.

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