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The AC-130H Spectre gunship's primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. Other missions include perimeter and point defense, escort, landing, drop and extraction zone support, forward air control, limited command and control, and combat search and rescue.

These heavily armed aircraft incorporate side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower or area saturation during extended periods, at night and in adverse weather.

During Vietnam, gunships destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and were credited with many life-saving close air support missions. AC-130s suppressed enemy air defense systems and attacked ground forces during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. This enabled the successful assault of Point Salines airfield via airdrop and airland of friendly forces.

The gunships had a primary role during Operation Just Cause in Panama by destroying Panamanian Defense Force Headquarters and numerous command and control facilities by surgical employment of ordnance in an urban environment. As the only close air support platform in the theater, Spectres were credited with saving the lives of many friendly personnel.

During Operation Desert Storm, Spectres provided air base defense and close air support for ground forces. AC-130s were also used during Operations Continue Hope and United Shield in Somalia, providing close air support for United Nations ground forces. The gunships have most recently played a pivotal role during operations in support of the NATO mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, providing air interdiction against key targets in the Sarajevo area.

The AC-130 is an excellent fire support platform with outstanding capabilities. With its extremely accurate fire control system, the AC-130 can place 105mm, 40mm and 25mm munitions on target with first round accuracy. The crew of these aircraft are extremely proficient working in military operations in urban terrain MOUT environments.

Primary Function: Close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance

Contractor: Lockheed Aircraft Corp.

Power Plant: Four Allison turboprop engines T56-A-15

Thrust: Each engine 4,910 horsepower

Length: 97 feet, 9 inches (29.8 meters)

Height: 38 feet, 6 inches (11.7 meters)

Maximum Takeoff Weight: 155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)

Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)

Range: 1,500 statute miles (1,300 nautical miles)

Unlimited with air refueling 2,200 nautical miles

Ceiling: 25,000 feet (7,576 meters) 30,000 ft.

Speed: 300 mph (Mach 0.40) (at sea level)

Two M61 20mm Vulcan cannons
with 3,000 rounds

One L60 40mm Bofors cannon
with 256 rounds

One M102 105mm howitzer
with 100 rounds
The AC-130H "Spectre" gunship's primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and force protection. Missions in close air support are troops in contact, convoy escort and urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include air base defense and facilities defense
by Robert C. November 03, 2005
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