'The most fearsome weapon' is evolving

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM.

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

“Now we get the successes of this precision strike package and marry it up with the advantages of the J-model bringing the best two C-130s together in a new weapons system,” said McGinnis.

The AC-130 primary mission is close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance.

Close air support missions include delivering fire support to ground forces that are fighting enemies and convoy escort. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity. These missions also include strike coordination and reconnaissance.

The AC-130 gunship has proven to be a reliable and fierce weapon system used by special operations forces since the 1960s. AC-130s had roles in Urgent Fury in Grenada, Just Cause in Panama, Desert Storm in Iraq, Continue Hope and United Shield in Somalia, as well as Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. In each operation, AC-130s were credited with many life-saving overwatch missions.

According to the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, “AC-130 gunships have been invaluable in supporting operations against insurgent and terrorist groups in Iraq and Afghanistan. These units have therefore been in heavy demand even as a portion of the fleet approached the end of its service life.”

The AC-130J has the speed of the MC-130J, the precision strike capabilities of the AC-130W and carries forward the heritage of the AC-130H/U.



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