U.S. Air Force’s Spooky gunship completed its final combat deployment

Two AC-130U Spooky heavily armed aircraft considered to be the most lethal and innovative gunship in the world completed its final combat deployment, according to the U.S. Air Force news release.

The Air Force’s AC-130U gunships with the 4th Special Operations Squadron return from their final scheduled combat deployment at Hurlburt Field, Florida July 8, 2019.

According to Scramble Magazine, once arrived at the tarmac of Hurlburt, this two AC-130Us, with serial numbers 89-1056 and 90-0167, were welcomed back with a special water salute. A total of seventeen Spooky’s have been flying in USAF service for over 24 years.

The Spooky is the third generation of C-130 gunships. All gunships evolved from the first operational gunship, the AC-47, to the AC-119, and then the AC-130A which was the basis for the modern C-130 gunship. The AC-130H “Spectre” gunships were fielded in 1972 and retired in 2015.

The Spookys have been almost constantly deployed since 2001 and are being replaced by the AC-130J Ghostrider, the most lethal and innovative gunship in the world (as the U.S. Air Force reports).

“The Ghostrider is the newest and most modernized gunship in existence, fulfilling the same mission sets as the Spooky but with upgraded avionics, navigation systems and a precision strike package that includes trainable 30mm and 105mm weapons,” the release states.

The Ghostrider reached initial operational capability in 2017.

The weapon package of new modification includes dual electro-optical infrared sensors, a 30-mm and 105mm cannon, AGM-176A Griffin missiles, all-weather synthetic aperture radar and GBU-39 small diameter bomb capabilities. The sensors allow the gunship to visually or electronically identify friendly ground forces and targets at any time, even in adverse weather.

Pairing weapons with a networked battle management system, enhanced communications and situational awareness upgrade the J-Model’s ability to deliver surgical firepower.

Photo by Airman 1st Class Blake Wiles
Photo by Airman 1st Class Blake Wiles

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