The Lockheed AC-130 (in this video during training exercice) is an heavily armed aircraft ground-attack aircraft derived from the C-130 Hercules transport plane . The basic airframe is built by Lockheed , and Boeing is responsible for the conversion into gunboat and aircraft support. The AC-130A Gunship II superseded the AC-47 Gunship I in Vietnam War .
The Lockheed AC-130 is used only by the United States Air Force , currently using the AC-130H Spectre and AC-130U Spooky II only versions. The AC-130 is powered by four turboprops and has an armament ranging from rotary automatic guns of 20 mm, until the shells of 105 mm. Its standard crew is normally composed of twelve or thirteen airmen, including five officers (two pilots, a navigator, an official of electronic warfare and fire control officer) and enlisted personnel (five engineers, electronics operators and aerial gunners).
The air forces of the United States used the AC-130 gunship for air support, air interdiction and protection. The role of air support includes support to ground troops, escorting convoys, and flying urban operations. Air interdiction missions were carried out against designated targets and targets of opportunity. Protection missions, including defending air bases and other facilities. Stationed at Hurlburt Field northwest of Florida , the squadron of gunboats, are part of the Special Operations Command Air Force (AFSOC) and components of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
The C-130 Hercules was selected as a base plane of the new draft gunboat, to replace the AC-47 Gunship I known as "Spooky" or "Puff the Magic Dragon" (the title track of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary ) during the Vietnam War , to improve resistance as gunboat and increase the transport capacity of weapons.
In 1967, the aircraft JC-130A USAF 54-1626 was chosen to become the AC-130A prototype. Modifications were made that year at the base of Wright-Patterson Air Force for aeronautical systems division. A direct night vision telescope was installed in the front door, near the viewfinder infrared . The prototype computer analog fire control was handmade by the commander of the RAF Tom Pinkerton, avionics laboratory of USAF . Flight tests of the prototype were performed on the basis of Eglin, followed by further testing and modifications. In September 1967, the aircraft was certified and ready for combat testing and carried airbase Nha Trang in South Vietnam for a test program for 90 days. As a result of the successes, some few AC-130A were constructed using similar equipment and analog computers . The original 54-1626 Gunship is exposed at the Museum of the USAF.
The AC-130 was the replacement for the AC-119 Gunship Shadow III during the Vietnam War , who later showed his little power and payload in wartime. In 1970, an additional dozen AC-130As were acquired under the "Pave Soon" project. Despite the name of the project, the aircraft was commonly called by the squad as a Spectre.
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