Warplanes: August 22, 2003


Looks count in the air force, especially if youre an aircraft. Ugly warplanes need an impressive wartime performance to get any respect. The most prominent example is the U.S. A-10, a truly ugly aircraft that the air force has been trying to get rid of for over a decade. But every time theres a war, the guys on the ground cant get enough of the the hawg (short for Warthog, as the A-10 is informally known.) But theres another ugly airborne killer; the AC-130 gunship. All of these belong to SOCOM (Special Operations Command), but now the marines want a couple. Noting that the AC-130s could circle the battlefield for up to six hours, had excellent night vision devices and a wide array of pinpoint accurate firepower, the marines see the AC-130 as the perfect close air support aircraft in situations where there are no enemy warplanes operating. The marines see themselves getting into urban battles in unruly parts of the world in the future. There will be a need for pinpoint firepower from above, to avoid civilian casualties, and the AC-130 fits the bill. 


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