6 Fast Facts About the AC-130 Gunship

Developed by Lockheed Martin, the AC-130 gunship is arguably one of the most powerful air-to-ground assets in the U.S. military. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at this heavily armed plane, revealing what makes it such as formidable weapon.

#1) It’s Used Exclusively By the US Air Force

While other countries have produced their own gunships, the AC-130 is used exclusively by the U.S. Air Force. No other country or military organization has this world-renown gunship.

#2) Spectre and Spooky

There are severel versions of the AC-130, including the Spectre and Spooky. The Spectre is typically warmed with two 20-mm M61 cannons, one 40-mm cannon and one 105-mm howitzer. However, the U.S. Air Force removed the 20-mm cannons around the mid-1990s. The Spooky is an upgraded variant of the AC-130, featuring one 25-mm cannon, two 20-mm cannons and other munitions delivery systems.

#3) $130 to $190 Million a Piece

According to the U.S. military’s website, the AC-130 costs between $130 to $190 million a piece. The AC-130U, the Spooky, is on the high end at $190 million, while the Spectre costs less. To put those numbers into perspective, the U.S. military’s new fighter jet, the F-35, costs about $95 million per unit. Therefore, the AC-130 remains one of the military’s most expensive aircraft. But ask any military professional and he or she will agree: the power conveyed by the AC-130 makes it well worth the cost.

#4) It’s Getting Laser Guns and Drones

No, that’s not a typo. The AC-130 is receiving a massive upgrade, including laser guns and drones. Reports indicate that the U.S. Air Force is looking to equip the AC-130 with a laser canon and air-launched drones.

#5) More Than a Dozen Crew

It takes more than a dozen highly trained crewmembers to operate the AC-130. The AC-130H, for instance, requires 14 crewmembers, including a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, electronic warfare officer, flight engineer, fire control officer, loadmaster, TV operator, infrared detection set operator, and five gunners. The AC-130U requires 13 crew, using four gunners instead of five.

#6) It Was Develeped During the Vietnam War

Contrary to popular belief, the AC-130 isn’t a new aircraft. It’s actually been around for many decades, with origins dating back to the Vietnam War. The first AC-130 took to the skies in 1966. And since then, it’s been used by the U.S. Air Force in nearly every major military conflict. Even today, the AC-130 continues to project force while supporting the U.S. military and its allies in operations throughout the world.