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Spooky Dumps 30mm
by James Dunnigan
August 1, 2008

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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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