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Special Operations: Spooky Dumps 30mm
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July 15, 2008: After a yearlong test, the U.S. Air Force decided not to replace the two 25mm and one 40mm cannon on its AC-130 gunships, with two 30mmautomatic cannon. The original plan was to have all AC-130s equipped with 30mm cannon, but the 30mm GAU-8 cannon (the same one used on the A-10 aircraft) was not that much of an improvement over the current weapons as expected, and there were the usual technical problems. The AC-130s are also being tested using missiles, like Hellfire, which has been more successful.

U.S. Air Force operates 21 gunships (eight AC-130H "Spectre", and 13 AC-130U "Spooky"). The 130Hs are being replaced with 130Us, and the air force is looking to replace all the current gunships with one based on another aircraft. Four new AC-130Us are in production, and older ones are receiving new sensors. The air force operates the AC-130s as part of SOCOM (Special Operations Command.)

Because of their vulnerability to ground fire, the AC-130s only operate at night. The last time an AC-130 was lost was at Khafji, Saudi Arabia, during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The aircraft was leaving the combat zone at sunrise, and was visible to Iraqi gunners in the area.

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doggtag    ...about to get myself kicked off here...   7/15/2008 7:57:29 AM
Doesn't anybody proof-read front-page articles before posting them anymore???
Trying my hardest to refrain from using every expletive I can think of right now,
but seriously, whoever is running the show here anymore,
PLEASE get some literate, knowledgeable people to do your front-page articles!
Quoting said article poster (at least as of 0745 EST, Tues, July 15, 2008):
"The original plan was to have all AC-130s are equipped with 30mm cannon..."
Is that like "All your base are belong to us!" ?
My nephew in elementary school has better grammar!
"...but the 30mm AGU-8 cannon (the same one used on the A-10 aircraft) was not that much of an improvement over the current weapons as expected, and there were the usual technical problems."
Umm, WTF is an AGU-8?
And for the record, there never have been trials of a GAU-8 (the A-10's gun's proper designation) installed in an AC-130 of any ilk.
The biggest "gat" they've ever carried is the current 25mm GAU-12 system (same 5-barrel gun mount used in USMC Harriers, but not the same 4-barrel model we often hear of as armament for the F-35).
Older AC-130 variants utilized the 6-barrel 20mm series.
The correct 30mm gun system that was trialled in the AC-130 was two of the single-barrel 30mm MK44 Bushmaster series guns.
Working on the Chain Gun principal, it is absolutely no where near the capability of a GAU-8, the only thing they have in common being the same 30x173mm ammunition.
Granted, in a brass-on-target comparison of a GAU-8 to a 40L60 Bofors gun and a 105mm howitzer, the on-target terminal effects may generally be similar (same magnitude of destruction),
but the MK44 guns were only rated to fire at an economical 200 shots per minute (although the design supports higher rates of fire, with an adequate drive power source), whereas the mighty GAU-8 can fire at up to 4200 shots per minute (7 barrels, mind you, roughly 600rpm/barrel).
It's a fair enough assumption that the recoil of a GAU-8 firing a 2-3 second burst could well cause any AC-130 to veer or yaw too uncontrollably to keep it on target, wasting too many shells which could well risk too many nearby friendlies.
SYSOPs (or Mr H or Mr D, or whomever),
for the sake of this great site's credibility,
have the front page article posters show us all a bit more credibility in what they post!
For the rest of us,
such posts are what's to be expected (grammar & spelling errors when we're typing in a hurry, the ocassional fudging of data, etc).
But please, demand a little more professionalism from the people with the keys to the front page.
(As to the guns themselves,
if the C-27J Spartan does get built as the JCA,
and if it does get morphed into a gunship,
I seriously expect greater interest in 40, or even 50mm guns, moreso than 30mm,
which will certainly roll over into AC-130s, if they don't adopt it first.
But that's all speculation,
not something I'm trying to pass off as fact, which is typically what the front page articles' writers are attempting to do (give us facts, not speculation)).
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doggtag    thank you, to whomever corrected the article (well, mostly)   7/15/2008 4:00:31 PM
Much obliged, and thank you.
(but there's still a few holes in there, about even having a GAU-8 in an AC-130.
I'd love to see the source what suggested it...)
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Hurlbee36       7/15/2008 7:17:07 PM
With programmable fused ammo (and switchable from one type to another) I can't imagine scrapping "this" 30mm.

This starts with the C130U as equipped and continues for 10 minutes
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Hurlbee36       7/15/2008 7:20:55 PM
copy/paste - forget the link part
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stinger       7/16/2008 2:49:12 AM
The older models had 2 20mm cannons and then switched to 1  trainable 25mm and  now they dropped the 40mm and 1 25mm for 2  30 mm MK-44. they best thing about the 2 30mm is the fact that they can track two different targets simultaneously. That basically makes up for the high rate of fire from the 25mm and first round hits.
AC-17 anyone or they could modify the infamous tanker aircraft (who ever wins) which one of these would be best suited for loitering missions while at the same time they conduct refueling missions talk about multipurpose..
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stinger       7/16/2008 3:56:39 AM
The guided-missile frigate USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) steams through the Atlantic Ocean." width="555" border="0" />
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stinger       7/16/2008 4:01:15 AM
Sorry but i had to post this here,  but isn't that a MK-44  30mm  on the forecastle were the MK-13 launcher used to be?
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doggtag       7/17/2008 7:37:40 AM
WRT modifying a C-17 into a gunship: too much aircraft (and $$$) for the job. Meaning, the price of just such an aircraft being lost to ground fire isn't worth it, even if the cargo hold could theoretically "load on Sunday and fire all week".
Same goes for using the KC-45 or whichever: the extra speed of jets isn't always an advantage if the aircraft is so big it's too easy a target.
C-130s are an ideal size, and even a C-27 (a GAU-12 25mm gat and a 40mm Bofors, Chain Gun, or CTA would do nicely) would make for an ideal brushfire gunship where it may have to operate from austere forward bases where even C-130s struggle to fit.
WRT the USS Groves (Perry-class FFG-29) being kitted out with a MK44 mount on the foredeck: web queries haven't yielded me anything, and the pic doesn't scale well to do it justice: can't totally see clearly enough what's there where the single-arm launcher should be.
The USS Groves even has its own website, and no mention there either of its armament being modified, other than the typical load of missiles, Phalanx, and guns of 76mm, 25mm, and 12.7mm. The 25mm comes in 2 distinct mounts: one, a manually-controlled pintle mount like the 50-cals, and a second mount which is more of a stabilized mini-turret, sometimes armed additionally with a Mk19 above the Chain Gun.
But no mention did I find of tests involving the MK44 mount (called Mk46 in its installation on the San Antonio amphibs).
But it's certainly feasible that the frigate may well have been used as a trials vessel for the mount, as it's not always right away that the USN reveals all aspects of a given system's testing & eval periods (OpSec & other issues).
I just don't see the ship (Groves) having its single arm laucher removed to make room for the Mk44/Mk46 system, not without removing the entire forward missile magazine and all (expensive): what's the point in taking off the launcher mechanism, but leaving all the magazine still installed?.
Not fully reading the Groves' history, I don't know that the removal of the forward armaments was ever accomplished, which then would've created an ideal candidate to mount something else up front for tests...if the ship's balance wasn't shifted too much due to the weight reduction from all that missile gear in the bow section being removed.
But if for a trials platform, it would seem more sensible to position the 30mm system in place of the 76mm turret, allowing it a greater field of fire than just limiting it to the forward arc.
Anyone ever come up with any close-ups of the Mk44/Mk46 mount?
Anything I've ever seen of the San Antonio doesn't really show the system from close proximity.
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stinger       7/17/2008 1:19:11 PM
Yes i did my own reseaerch to try and authenicate it , I got the picture from the Navy web site home page , go to the pictures section, and then you can blow up the  picture to a bigger size. when i tranfered the picture to this site it did not come out they way i wanted it. But yes i coumld not find anything else relating to this they might just be using it as a test bed for the LSC just like they put other systems on aircraft to see if they work. but theres nothing like a little extra fire power. also i did notice that the 2 25 mm were removed from the midship were they usually are..
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flamingknives       7/17/2008 6:19:41 PM

Mk46 turret, the same as the one that falls to pieces on the EFV, being installed on an LPD.
It should weather that mounting better, as an LPD is a bit more massive than an EFV and hence moves about a bit less violently.
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