|The Lockheed AC-130 gunship is a heavily armed, long-endurance ground-attack variant of the C-130 Hercules transport fixed-wing aircraft. It carries a wide array of anti-ground oriented weapons that are integrated with sophisticated sensors, navigation, and fire-control systems.|
Due to its large profile, relatively low speed and low operating altitudes (around 7,000 ft) making it an easy target, it usually flies close air support missions at night.
|The AC-130 has a non-pressurized cabin, with the weaponry mounted to fire from the port side of the fuselage. During an attack, the gunship performs a pylon turn, flying in a large circle around the target, therefore being able to fire at it for far longer than in a conventional strafing attack. The AC-130H Spectre was armed with two 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannons, one Bofors 40 mm autocannon, and one 105 mm M102 cannon. The upgraded AC-130U Spooky has a single 25 mm GAU-12 Equalizer in place of the Spectre's twin 20 mm cannons. The AC-130W is armed with a 30 mm Bushmaster cannon, AGM-176 Griffin missiles, and GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs.|
|By 2018, AC-130 gunships will have been providing close air support for special operators for 50 years.|