December 2005 - Mildenhall
at RAF Mildenhall was AC-130U 'Spooky' 90-0166. AC-130s are a rare
sight in this country - the AC-130U is named after the AC-47D and
has the 'Spooky' nickname rather than the 'Spectre' nickname used
by all other AC-130 gunships.
AC-130U is armed with a 25mm Gatling-gun (capable of firing 1800
rounds per minute), a single-barrel, rapid-fire 40mm Bofors cannon,
and a 105mm Howitzer. The AC-130U replaced the two 20mm cannon used
on the AC-130H with one trainable 25mm cannon while retaining the
other weapons. The AC-130U employs the latest technologies and can
attack two targets simultaneously.
U-model gunship is one of the most complex aircraft weapon systems
in the world today, containing more than 609,000 lines of software
in its mission computers and avionics systems. Although it still
uses the venerable Lockheed C-130 airframe, the AC-130U incorporates
the latest sensor technology, along with an entirely new fire-control
system, to substantially increase the gunship's combat effectiveness.
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. All
light-level television, infrared sensors, and the Hughes APQ-180
radar (also found on the F-15E Strike Eagle) provide night and adverse
weather capability. The strike radar provides the first gunship
capability for all weather/night target acquisition and strike.
weapons can be slaved to sensors which permit night or adverse weather
operations. The AC-130U is a highly integrated weapons system. Within
the AC-130U resides the Battle Management Center (BMC) where crew
coordination is critical to the success of their missions. This
BMC consists of five crew stations which are the Navigator (Nav),
Fire Control Officer (FCO), Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) and
two Sensor Operators who control the Infrared Detection Set (IDS)
and the All Light Level Television (ALLTV) systems.
enhance survivability, emphasis has been placed on increasing the
stand-off range of the gunship's weapons system and improving first-shot
accuracy. In addition, a set of electronic countermeasures has been
installed to help defend the AC-130U against modern threats. The
AC-130U gunship airframe is integrated with an armor protection
system (APS). Picture courtesy Matthew Clements