|The AC-130U model Spectre. This particular aircraft is in operation with the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida.|
The primary mission of the AC-130U Spectre is to deliver precision firepower in support of Close Air Support (CAS) for special operations and conventional ground forces. CAS is defined as air action against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces and that require detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of those forces. The Spectre can provide accurate fire support with limited collateral damage and can remain on station for extended periods of time. These activities are normally carried out under cover of darkness.
The lethality of this gunship is created by three weapons. As you enter the AC-130U by way of the front crew hatch and turn to your right, you’ll find the GAU-12/U 25mm Gatling cannon that is full traversable and also capable of firing 1,800 rpm ffrom extended altitudes of 12,000 feet. Positions in the rear of the aircraft are the 40mm Bofors gun and the M102 105mm Howitzer cannon. The 40mm is ideal for providing CAS in “danger close” support to friendly forces due to its small fragmentation pattern. Alongside the Bofors is the M102, 105mm Howitzer cannon, a derivative of the U.S. Army M1A1 howitzer. It has been modified to fire from an aircraft, placed in a special mounting and positioned on the port side of the gunship.
|An up close and personal view of the 25mm cannon.|
Unlike the “fast movers,’ that is, F-15s, AQ-10s, and so on, which must have qualified forward air controllers (FAC) for ordnance delivery in close position to friendly forces, the AC-130U can be controlled by fire-support officers, team leaders, or self-FAC. The fire-control officers are located in the Battle Management Center, or BMC. Here they operate state-of-the-art sensors, navigation, and fire-control systems. These systems, coupled with the trained eyes and skilled hands of their officers, enable the crew to deliver the Spectre’s firepower or are saturation with surgical precision—in adverse weather and in total darkness.
Excerpted from Weapons of Delta Force by Fred Pushies.