”Spooky” gunships complete its last combat missions, here is what’s replacing them
The legendary AC-130U “Spooky” Gunship has flown its last combat mission, leading many to ask what lies in store for the future of Air Force gunships.
The last U-model came home to Hurlburt Field in Florida on Monday, marking the end of an era.
While seeing Spooky go is bittersweet, the successor -known as the “Ghostrider”- is an exciting new chapter.
First deployed in 1995, the AC-130Us were the follow-on replacements for the Vietnam-era AC-130A and AC-130H Spectres that were formally retired in 2015. Since entering service, the AC-130U has been active in hotspots around the globe.
The AC-130J Ghostriders will replace the “Spookys,” who once replaced the Spectres. To water that down and put it into context, it means that no matter the model, U.S. troops have had a circling provider of superb air support since the 1960s, and will continue to be treated to bigger and better models as time goes on.
The Ghostrider has big shoes to fill, but it also has capabilities that its older siblings lacked. Taking into account the experiences learned in Syria, Ghostriders will be more resistant to electronic jamming and interference, and will also have better avionics packages.
One sweet feature of the Ghostrider is a 30mm cannon that is sniper rifle-like in its precision, allowing crews to take out high-value targets without causing significant civilian casualties.
“Almost like a sniper rifle,” Colonel Tom Palenske told Military.com last May. “It’s that precise, it can pretty much hit first shot, first kill.”
In addition to the usual 105mm, the 30mm will offer a new battlefield dynamic, and the J-model will also be able to utilize precision-guided missiles and bombs.
The Ghostriders will also cost less to operate while offering more to the table. With improved engines and survivability upgrades, the planes will have better flight sustainability.
Did we mention lasers? Because the Air Force is totally looking into giving the Ghostrider a laser weapon.
While there is sadness in knowing it’s “Spooky’s” time to cross over, there is great solace in knowing the Ghostrider will be overhead.
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