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The AC-130 Spectre Gunship: The Deadliest Aircraft In The U.S. Air Force

The AC-130 Spectre Gunship is one of the most deadly aircraft in the U.S. Air Force inventory (some will argue that it is THE “most deadly”), basically…it’s a flying battleship. This plane has not only saved countless American lives, but it also delivers some of the most deadly air-to-ground fire that virtually decimates enemy ground forces, giving it the well earned nickname- “Spooky”.  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. During Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983, AC-130s suppressed enemy air defense systems and attacked ground forces enabling the successful assault of the Point Salines Airfield via airdrop and air land of friendly forces.

The AC-130U “Spooky” gunships’ primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. Close air support missions include troops in contact, convoy escort and point air defense. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity and include strike coordination, reconnaissance, and armed overwatch mission sets.

This 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 loiter periods, at night and in adverse weather. The sensor suite consists of a multispectral television sensors, high definition infrared sensors, and radar. These sensors allow the gunship to visually or electronically identify friendly ground forces and targets anytime, anywhere.

General characteristics 

Primary function: close air support, air interdiction and force protection
Builder: Lockheed/Boeing Corp.
Power plant: four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines
Thrust: 4,300 shaft horsepower each engine
Wingspan: 132 feet 7 inches (40.4 meters)
Length: 97 feet 9 inches (29.8 meters)
Height: 38 feet 6 inches (11.7 meters)
Speed: 300 mph (Mach .4) (at sea level)
Range: approximately 1,300 nautical miles; limited by crew duty day with air refueling.
Ceiling: 25,000 feet (7,576 meters)
Maximum takeoff weight: 155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)
Armament: 40mm, 105mm cannons and 25mm Gatling gun.
Crew: AC-130U – pilot, co-pilot, navigator, fire control officer, electronic warfare officer (five officers) and flight engineer, TV operator, infrared detection set operator, loadmaster, and four aerial gunners (eight enlisted)
Deployment date:  1995
Unit cost:  $210 million
Inventory: active duty, 17; reserve, 0; ANG, 0

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