AFSOC Rearms AC-130U Spooky Gunship With 30 mm Bushmaster Guns

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The US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) is testing an AC-130U Spooky Gunship equipped with two 30mm Bushmaster automatic cannon, replacing the older 25mm and 40mm guns. The rearmed gunship retains the 105 mm cannon. The rearmed aircraft will undergo flight testing through May. It should be declared operational with the 4th Special Operations Squadron in July. Three more modified U-model gunships will join the squadron by December 2007.

The rest of the fleet will be modified as funding is available, with installation probably in the mid-2009 time frame. Fleet-wide modification could be complete by fiscal 2010. AFSOC intends to install the 30 mm cannons on all its AC-130H Spectre fleet as well.

Tech. Sgt. Ben Filek works on a newly-installed 30 mm Bushmaster cannon aboard an AC-130U Spooky gunship as Tech. Sgt. James Knight looks on Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Both Airmen are aerial gunners with the 19th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)"We're buying increased lethality and accuracy at the same time we're improving reliability," said Lt. Col. Mike Gottstine, AFSOC's chief of strike/intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements, "The bottom line is we'll have more gunships available for the warfighter on a day-to-day basis." The new cannon fires 200 rounds a minute, faster than the 40 mm and a bit slower than the 25 mm guns it replaces, Colonel Gottstine said. "The 25 mm throws a lot of lead down but it scatters it more than the 30 mm will. We're expecting increased lethality and increased accuracy with this weapon," he said. "Hits are what counts."

The 30mm Bushmaster cannon offers better accuracy, improved support and a wider range of ammunition types, since 30mm guns are widely used among the armed services. "Different types of ammo will allow us to perform different missions or maybe give us some options to prosecute our targets differently." Colonel Gottstine said.

The 25 mm cannon was originally installed in gunships as a suppression weapon to keep enemy troops pinned down so they could not move or shoot, said Paul Brousseau, AFSOC AC-130U requirements contractor support. However, the 25 mm has no air burst capability, which is often preferable for suppression fire, he said. "The Marine Corps is looking at a 30 mm airburst round that could possibly be a good capability for us sometime in the future," he said.
(see the full story at Air Force News)
Bushmaster 30 mm cannons protrude from the gunports of an AC-130U Spooky gunship during tests Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)



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