AC-130 Hercules in Action


01/28/2015: This video shows an AC-130 operating from its home base.

In the A-10 discussion, the AC-130 is part of the obvious answer in various Close Air Support Roles.

 Credit Video: 1st Combat Camera Squadron:1/21/15

According to Tyler Rogoway on the Foxtrot Alpha website:

The AC-130 flying gunship fleet is one of the most fabled and feared assets in the entire USAF inventory. Known for its ability to unleash a broadside of cannon fire in the dead of night, the newest of the AC-130 lot is more about smart bombs than raining lead and howitzer shells down on the enemy.

Before the turn of the decade it became clear that the aging AC-130 fleet was in low supply and exceedingly high demand. As a result the Air Force Special Operations Command decided that it should augment the existing fleet on AC-130H and AC-130Us in the short term, as well as replace a portion of them in the long term.

The outcome of this decision was to outfit a portion of the MC-130W Dragon Speer special operations Hercules aircraft with a semi-modular kit called the Precision Strike Packages (PSP), similar to but more elaborate than the Marine’s Harvest Hawk kit, which would give these Hercules the ability to perform Close Air Support (CAS), ISTAR (Information, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance), armed over-watch and support Special Forces missions without having to buy an entirely new aircraft. In the longer term the AC-130J, based entirely on the newer and much improved Super Hercules platform, would replace older AC-130Hs that had reached the end of their service lives.

It only took about a year and half to take the AC-130W, dubbed the “Stinger II,” concept and turn it into reality.

What resulted from this initiative was more of a flying arsenal and sensor ship than a traditional gunship. The idea was to create a gunship with minimal airframe alterations and to provide an indirect precision attack capability to the AC-130 family.

A single Bushmaster 30mm cannon was fitted to the forward port side of the aircraft’s fuselage, along with a pair of highly capable AN/AAQ-38 FLIR turrets both under the nose and under the port forward fuselage sponson-like structure. Also, a modular Battle Management System (BMS) and advanced communications system, including the latest video and information datalinks, were tied to a series of missionized control stations mounted inside the AC-130W’s spacious cargo hold.

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