Under a contract awarded in 1987, Boeing manufactures and supports the AC-130U Gunship aircraft for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. The AC-130U represents a major advancement over previous generation gunships. Existing C-130 airframes receive the latest sensor technologies and fire control systems that, together, substantially increase the gunship’s combat effectiveness. The AC-130U features increased weapon stand-off range, improved first-shot accuracy, and a state-of-the-art suite of electronic and infrared countermeasures that greatly enhance the AC-130U’s survivability against modern threats. The AC-130U design also incorporates features to enhance maintainability and supportability. httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlZQbxb1KbI&feature=fvst Firing at 1,800 shots per minute and mounted on a fully trainable gun mount, the GAU-12 provides twice the lethality of its former 20 mm cannons, a longer stand-off range and greater accuracy. The operator can select from a series of burst lengths to tailor effectiveness of the GAU-12 for each target due to a fully automated ammunition handling system, capable of carrying 3,000 rounds. The gunship also carries both a 40 mm Bofors cannon, capable of up to 100 shots per minute, and a 105 mm howitzer that can be fired six times a minute. To maximize accuracy, both large guns also are installed on trainable gun mounts. The AC-130U has a dual-target attack capability that allows it to attack simultaneously two targets located up to a kilometer apart. Its fire control system enables the AC-130U to destroy targets more quickly, expediting air-to-ground mission objectives while decreasing threat exposure time, which enhances aircraft survivability.
Role: Fixed-wing gunship
Lockheed and Boeing First flight AC-130A: 1966 AC-130U: 1990
Introduction: AC-130A: 1968
Primary user: U.S. Air Force
Number built- 43, including all variants
Unit cost: AC-130H: US$132.4 million
AC-130U: US$190 million (2001)
Developed from: C-130 Hercules
The most significant changes in the AC-130U Gunship are enhancements and expansions to its sensor suite. Both the All Light Level Television and the Infrared Detection System can scan a full 360 degrees, allowing the gunship crew to search for and find targets much faster. The target detection and recognition ranges of both sensors are nearly double those of previous gunships. The television also incorporates a laser target designator and rangefinder that allows the AC-130U to designate targets for other aircraft armed with smart, laser-guided weapons. The gunship’s target detection capability makes it a highly effective force multiplier. The AC-130U incorporates Night Vision Imaging System, with compatible lighting throughout to support use of night vision equipment by its crew.
Fire Control System
Today’s AC-130U Gunship is more lethal than its predecessors, due to the addition of a GAU-12, 25 mm Gatling gun (similar to those on