10,000 rounds a minute baby
Lethal ‘flying gunships’ returning to Iraq
AP: Armed airplanes used in Vietnam War secretly moved to Iraqi base
In a secretive operation, heavily armed gunship versions of C-130 transport planes like these at an airbase in southern Iraq, on Wednesday, are being shipped to Iraq.
AN AIR BASE IN IRAQ - The U.S. Air Force has begun moving heavily armed AC-130 airplanes — the lethal “flying gunships” of the Vietnam War — to a base in Iraq as commanders search for new tools to counter the Iraqi resistance, The Associated Press has learned.
An AP reporter saw the first of the turboprop-driven aircraft after it landed at the airfield this week. Four are expected.
The Iraq-based special forces command controlling the AC-130s, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, said it would have no comment on the deployment. But the plan’s general outline was confirmed by other Air Force officers, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Military officials warned that disclosing the location of the aircraft’s new base would violate security provisions of rules governing media access to U.S. installations.
The four-engine gunships, whose home base is Hurlburt Field in Florida, have operated over Iraq before, flying from airfields elsewhere in the region. In November 2004, air-to-ground fire from AC-130s supported the U.S. attack that took the western city of Fallujah from insurgents.
Basing the planes inside Iraq will cut hours off their transit time to reach suspected targets.
Planes heavily armed
The left-side ports of the AC-130s, 98-foot-long planes that can slowly circle over a target for long periods, bristle with a potent arsenal — 40 mm cannon that can fire 120 rounds per minute, and big 105 mm cannon, normally a field artillery weapon. The plane’s latest version, the AC-130U, known as “Spooky,” also carries Gatling gun-type 20 mm cannon.
“It’s got tons of guns, and it’s got all kinds of stuff on it that can be applied to the problems you have,” Brig. Gen. Frank Gorenc, who refused to discuss the current AC-130 deployment, said in an AP interview.
That “stuff” includes “the ability to take these high-tech pods and to use them to find guys planting (bombs) and to find other nefarious activity,” he said.
So what IS an AC-130U
Continuing the distinguished combat history of side-firing AC-130 gunships, the new AC-130U Spectre gunship is being fielded as a replacement for the AC-130A aircraft. This program acquires 13 new basic C-130H aircraft for modification and integration by Boeing to the AC-130U Gunship configuration. The AC-130U gunship airframe is integrated with an armor protection system (APS), high resolution sensors (All Light Level Television (ALLTV), infrared detection set (IDS) and strike radar), avionics and EW systems, a sophisticated software controlled fire control system, and an armament suite consisting of side-firing, trainable 25mm, 40mm, and 105mm guns. The strike radar provides the first gunship capability for all weather/night target acquisition and strike.
The acquisition program for this new gunship evolved from a Congressional mandate in the mid-1980s to revitalize the special operations force capabilties. Following the contract award to Rockwell in July 1987, the aircraft was first flown on 20 December 1990. FY92 procurement funding was increased to provide the 13th aircraft to replace the AC-130H lost during Desert Storm. Upon completing an exhaustive flight test program at Air Force Flight Test Center from 1991 to 1994 the first aircraft was delivered to AFSOC on July 1, 1994. Boeing’s contract includes: concurrent development, aircraft production, flight test, and delivery. All aircraft have been delivered and the program is transitioning to the sustainment phase. A competitive contract for sustainment was awarded in July 1998.
The AC-130U is the most complex aircraft weapon system in the world today. It has more than 609,000 lines of software code in its mission computers and avionics systems. The newest addition to the command fleet, this heavily armed aircraft incorporates 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 an All Light Level Television system and an infrared detection set. A multi-mode strike radar provides extreme long-range target detection and identification. It is able to track 40mm and 105mm projectiles and return pinpoint impact locations to the crew for subsequent adjustment to the target. The fire control system offers a Dual Target Attack capability, whereby two targets up to one kilometer apart can be simultaneously engaged by two different sensors, using two different guns. No other air-ground attack platform in the world offers this capability. Navigational devices include the inertial navigation system (INS) and global positioning system (GPS). The aircraft is pressurized, enabling it to fly at higher altitudes, saving fuel and time, and allowing for greater range than the AC-130H. Defensive systems include a countermeasures dispensing system that releases chaff and flares to counter radar infrared-guided anti-aircraft missiles. Also infrared heat shields mounted underneath the engines disperse and hide engine heat sources from infrared-guided anti-aircraft missiles.
Let me put it this way: it can fill a football field with bullets in seconds. It used to blast the NVA into tiny bits.
If we're gonna run from Iraq, this is what they need to do it.
posted by Steve @ 6:52:00 PM