The Lockheed AC-130 is a gunship aircraft that I heavily armed and is used for the long endurance ground attack missions. It is a variant of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft with fixed wings that is currently serving for the United States Air Force as the Gunship.
The aircraft is equipped with a wide variety of anti-ground weapons that are further equipped with sensors, navigation and fire control systems. The aircraft, unlike other fixed-wing aircraft, depends upon visual targeting. The aircraft is very humongous in size, making it a bigger target for the enemy to strike down; the aircraft is used for the close air support missions at night.
The main airframe of this aircraft is manufactured by Lockheed but to convert this aircraft into a gunship, Boeing is behind this feat. The aircraft which was developed during the Vietnam War was built to replace the Douglas AC-47 Spooky, or “Gunship I”; under the program named “Project Gunship II”.
The sole manufacturer and user of this aircraft is USAF that uses other variants of this aircraft like AC-130U Spooky and AC-130W Stinger II for the following mission types.
- Close air support
- Air interdiction
- Force protection
Another variant of this aircraft, “AC-130J Ghostrider” is still under devolvement. The aircraft is currently being used by USAF of the following support roles.
- Ground troops
- Escorting conveys
- Urban operations
The aircraft has a pressurized cabin and the weapons used to fire on enemy forces are placed on the port side of the fuselage. The attack force of the aircraft is deadly as during attack, the aircraft makes a pylon turn that allows it to make a large circle around the aircraft making it able to fire at it longer. The Lockheed AC-130 is at the moment the main gunship aircraft of the USAF.
For our readers today we have gathered a bunch of amazing facts about the Lockheed AC-130 which are as follows.
A Lockheed and Boeing project:-
The Lockheed AC-130 is a project that was started under the name “Project Gunship II” back in 19600s during the Vietnam War. The aircraft was designed in order to replace the Douglas AC-47 Spooky or the Gunship I.
The main airframe of the aircraft was developed by Lockheed Martin and the project to equip it with various weapons system and other states of the art features was carried out by Boeing.
The aircraft took its first flight back in 1966. The very first Lockheed AC-130 entered in the United States Air Force service back in 1968.
Speed, altitude reach and range:-
The aircraft is able to attain a maximum speed of 465 kmph with an altitude reach of 25000 feet. The aircraft has a maximum range of 70000 kilometers but is equipped with an air refueling system and can make a circle around the globe with air refueling.
Made exclusively for the use of USAF:-
The sole proprietor and the user of this aircraft is US Air Force no other country in the word or any other military organization own this state of the art gunship.
Cost of one Lockheed AC-130:-
According to the information from US Military, the cost of a single one of these Lockheed AC-130s is in-between 130 to 190 million dollars. The cost of the AC-130U aka the Spooky is approximately 190 million dollars making it costly than other of its variants.
To put this in comparison, the cost of an F-35 is about 95 million dollars per aircraft. This makes, Lockheed AC-130 as one of the most expensive aircraft of the military. However, the wide range of mission roles provided by this aircraft makes the price worth a while.
There are currently four variants of this aircraft which are as follows.
- AC-130U Spooky
- AC-130H Spectre
- AC-130J Ghostrider; currently under production
- AC-130W Stinger II; a modified C-130H with upgrades
As we stated earlier there are currently four main variants of this aircraft, and all of these variant aircraft come with their own set of weapons which are as follows.
- AC-130H Spectre; the aircraft is equipped with following weapons.
- two 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannons
- one L60 Bofors 40 mm cannon
- one 105 mm M102 howitzer
- After 1994, the 20 mm cannons were removed.
- AC-130U Spooky; the aircraft is equipped with following weapons.
- Single 25 mm GAU-12 Equalizer cannon instead of the Spectre’s two 20 mm cannons
- an improved fire control system
- increased ammunition capacity
- AC-130J Ghostrider; the aircraft is equipped with following weapons.
- AC-130J Ghostrider based on the MC-130J Commando II special operations tanker and is currently under manufacturing.
- AC-130W Stinger II; the aircraft is equipped with following weapons.
- precision strike package
According to the military information, the US Air force is planning to make some amazing new upgrades to the weaponry of this aircraft. While it might seem strange, it is true that the AC-130 is going to be equipped with a laser cannon and air-launched drones in near future.
Operated by 14 crew members:-
Without a doubt, the Lockheed AC-130 is one of the states of the art aircraft in the world and to operate it normally requires 14 crewmembers. 14 of these crewmembers are as follows.
- electronic warfare officer
- flight engineer
- fire control officer
- TV operator
- infrared detection set operator
- five gunners
Total number of AC-130 manufactured:-
Since the very first of the Lockheed AC-130, there have been now 47 of these aircraft produced as of 2019. All of these are variants.
The Lockheed AC-130 is the gunship aircraft of the US Air Force that is currently one of the deadliest forces of the US Military. The aircraft is operated by 14 crewmembers with its state of the art weapons and other wide array of systems. The aircraft was developed during the Vietnam War and since then many of its variants have been introduced while others being in either production stages or design stages. The US Air Force is the sole user of this aircraft and it is still serving its role efficiently in many different mission roles.