AC-130 Spectre Gunship: The military’s ultimate combat aircraft

The AC-130 Spectre Gunship, AKA Hell in the Sky, is known to be the US Military’s ultimate combat aircraft. The history of the AC-130’s date back as late as Vietnam/Laos and have become a huge part of our combat. This fighter plane that is manufactured by Lockheed and Boeing is operated by the United States Air Force Special Operations. AC stands for attack cargo, which is one of the purposes of this combat aircraft. The main reason for the AC-130 is to gather close air support for other troops.

An AC-130 Spectre from the 16th Special Operations Squadron flies a training mission Aug. 11, 2010, at Cannon Air Force Base, N. M. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jack Braden).

Besides being close to land in air support, the AC-130 Spectre Gunship has many other important roles within the military. Some other key roles they play are armed reconnaissance, pre-planned air to land strikes, and being a defense patrol in the air for other bases. This battle plan is a scary sight, the wingspan is around 132 feet and stretches 97 inches in length.  These AC-130’s are a hard sight to miss in the air.

Amn. Frank Lauria hands a 105 mm cannon round to an aerial gunner inside a 16th Special Operations Squadron AC-130H Spectre gunship while training on the combat aircraft parking area at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Feb. 6.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Evelyn Chavez)

The AC-130 Spectre Gunships have two original variants. The two types were AC-130H(Spectre) and AC-130U(Spooky II). AC-130U is operated by the 4th Special Operations Squadron, controlled by 13 crew members, and fly as high as 30,000 feet. AC-130H is operated by the 16th Special Operations Squadron, controlled by 14 crew members, and can fly as high as 25,000 feet. As of 2014, the AFSOC retired the Spectre model and has since replaced it with AC-130J Ghostrider. The Ghostrider is based on the MC-130J Commando II plus Precision Strike Package making it a lethal piece of machinery.

The AC-130 battle planes are more than just a big defensive patrol in the sky, they have a little extra power behind them. These metal birds in the sky have lots of weaponry to them making them the ultimate combat aircraft. Some of these include; side-firing weapons withing sensor technologies, 105 mm cannon and 25 to 40 battling guns, infrared radar sensors, and many more lethal weapons and features.

With this big plane, you need a big and experienced crew. To start you must have your pilot, co-pilot, and navigator to help fly and guide the plane. Then you have a fire control officer for safety and five electronic warfare officers on deck. Also, need a TV Operator to watch the radar for incoming traffic and problems. Finally, you need an infrared detection set operator, loadmaster, and four ariel gunners ready for travel and combat.

Pilots aboard an AC-130 Gunship conduct final systems checks prior to takeoff March 3, 2010, from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (Defense Department photo/Army Staff Sgt. Billie J. Nelson Jr.)

As mentioned earlier the AC-130 Spectre Gunship has been used in the US Military since the Vietnam War. These AC-130’s took out over more than 10,000 trucks with air support missiles. Although this was the first war this battle plane was used in, it would not be the last. Also was active during Operation Fury in Grenada and in Operation Just Cause in Panama where they destroyed Panama’s Defense Force Headquarters and other controlled bases. These acts in Panama and Grenada awarded the aircrew present the Mackay Trophy and Tunner Award for their courageous efforts.

The AC-130 Gunships have also been a big part of the ongoing war that has occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan. These battle planes were a big part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. AC-130’s provide a big part in direct and indirect aid to ground troops that are on foot, also provide armed reconnaissance. In Iraq, they play a big part in Operation Iraqi Freedom doing the same contributions they did in Afghanistan. The Spectre Ac-130’s have been a big asset in the middle east during our current war history.

New Halloween-inspired AC-130 Gunship shirts are available now at Medals of America!

Medals of America is now offering a super special Spectre t-shirt this spooky season. The Halloween Spectre T-Shirt has a unique concept of making the “Hell in the Sky”, Spooky II aircraft on this AC-130 t-shirt. In Vietnam, the Spooky Spectre AC-130 was first introduced and has changed airfare strategy in combat. Veterans will appreciate the design for it models the Vietnam Spectre Spooky logo that is seen on patches and other insignia.

To receive the nickname “Hell in the Sky” you have to be one bad man. For that name to be given to a specially operated battle plane, is even scarier. The AC-130 Spectre Gunship is one of the more essential aircraft, not only in the US Air Force but the entire United States Military. If you have seen an AC-130 plane or not I think you can now come to the conclusion or visualize that it is the ultimate combat aircraft.