AC-130U Spooky Gunship

The AirSource Military recently posted up this video of an AC-130U during live-fire training.

The Spooky II is armed with

130U 1

105mm rounds

130U 2

40mm rounds

130U 3

Topping off the hopper of 40mm ammo.

130U cannon

105mm howitzer


Enjoy the video.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at


  • Ezra Bristow

    Loving the massive stripper clips for the 40mm

    • iksnilol

      We need a 40mm Garand!

      • Ezra Bristow

        Faen ja!

      • Evil_Bonsai

        Instead of ‘ping’ you get a big ol’ PONG!!!!

      • Solace Greer

        Might be a little more difficult to produce a fist sized group with that.

        • Norm Glitz

          Each shot will make a fist sized hole. Close enough?

          • Solace Greer

            Sounds good, but what if my arms get tired?

        • CountryBoy

          Nope, just one shot!

          • Solace Greer

            One shot, one kill?

          • CountryBoy

            More like one shot, six kills!

            Trigger control is being able to fire only one round at a time from that Gatling, too!

        • iksnilol

          Not really, 40mm is like half a fist already.

          That’s why people in Norway use .45 ACP… easier to score with 😛

          • Solace Greer

            40mm is three times the size of .45

          • iksnilol


            I am just saying that the larger bullets are easier to score with when shooting competitions that value precision.

  • forrest1985

    Whoever came up with the idea of putting heavy artillery in a herc deserves a medal imo!

    • Ron

      Was a result of Vietnam experimentation with Gunships the miniguns used on the AC-47 were not sufficient to kill trucks on the Ho Chi Minh trail, So the AC130A and AC-119 added Vulcans but those too proved less than satisfactory, so when the AC-130A surprise package came out they added bofors which were effective but still left the AC-130 in an envelope they could be engaged with light AAA, so when the AC-130E was fielded it had a M102 howitzer that allowed the destruction of trucks from a higher altitude.

      • Gun Slinger

        Really? The old Dragon wasn’t good enough to kill trucks on Ho’s Trail? Well, from what I seen, there wasn’t much left of them!! Flew with 4th Sp. Ops from Pleiku every once in a while. Air Crew evals. Nothing like three (3) Gatlings on line for a 5 second burst! Things on the ground tend to disappear suddenly! Seven (7) seconds tended to melt barrels. Not good enough huh? Talk to the grunts on the ground when Spooky came to their rescue!

        • Gunner4guy

          Was nice to see Spooky up over TSN. Didn’t know what it was the first time it cut loose. Supposedly a group of sappers was spotted headed towards the POL farms and a Spooky was floating around looking for trouble and lit them up—a stream of fire out of the night and shredded Cong.

    • Here’s the official USAF history of the development.

    • crdiddle

      For a little historical perspective look at the wwII hard nosed varient of the B25 G&H models. Mounted a forward firing 75mm cannon, up to eight fixed forward firing 50’s and 5″ rockets under the wings. Used with success in the Pacific. In the early versions firing the cannon caused ripples in the aircrafts skin.

  • KestrelBike

    Watching that GAU-12/U feed so fast is amazing. Yikes.

  • BattleshipGrey

    When sending a drone just isn’t good enough.

  • Suppressed

    I have no idea how they get that thing to accurately something. The moving platform, turbulence, the speed of the plane, the tilt of the plane, calculating bullet drop for 3 different guns, and probably some other stuff I haven’t even thought about.

    • Evil_Bonsai


    • claymore


    • ulalan

      THE FORCE!

      • Joshua Knott

        with a helping of the Dark Side hah

    • Nicholas C

      Common core math would not help.

    • RaunchyDawg

      Probably the same way we got men to the moon with slide rulers. 🙂

    • RocketScientist

      My AOC when I was a cadet at USAFA was a fire control officer on an AC130. From what I know of him, and the stories he told, they do it by putting the most calm, collected, unfazeable, multi-tasking person they can find, and putting him in charge of a team of highly trained professionals, and giving him access to a network of sensors and computers that is optimized for just that task. He showed us thermal footage from the balkans of them dropping a ’05 shell into a tunnel opening (about 4-5 feet across maybe), with the blast blowing bodies out the other tunnel entrance a hundred yards away. I remember one of the bodies cartwheeling through the air to land on the nearby structure’s roof. Over the course of the next few minutes you could see the body slowly blend into the roof, as it gradually attained room temperature.

  • Ron

    Control Spookey and Specter a few times in Iraq, great piece of gear. Too bad you cannot get them to fly during day light similar to the Harvest Hawk AKC-130Js.

    • Ryan

      What’s the reasoning behind no daylight operations? Is/was there that much potential for being shot down?

      • Richard

        its big, slow, and even easier to see when the cannons start firing.

      • Ron

        The Air Force is extremely risk adverse as an organization. The Marines using Harvest Hawk equipped KC-130Js (unofficially known as the AKC-130J) used them in daylight as both a persistent ISR platform and a missile only gunship at the same time the AF, though AFSOC, would not allow AC-130 equipped with the same missiles to fly during the day.

        • Ryan

          That feels slightly selfish of the AF. Did that risk aversion make your job (combat air controller?) that much more difficult? Or was it just another problem that you could solve by using another tool in your arsenal?

          Just a little side note:
          My younger brother (was in Astan) said that one of the most comforting sounds was the AC130 leveling the area from which his group of guys took massive amounts of fire from. They were tasked with capturing an HVT and intel from a site (or something similar). The resistance they encountered was far greater than expected. Their casualty levels reached the point at which they just called the mission and leveled the area.

          • CommonSense23

            The air force lost a 130 supporting a guys on the ground after the sun came out in the original gulf war. Makes them really risk adverse.

          • Ron

            Yeah they attempted to attack a tank/mechanized force outside of Al Kafji. Since those forces move with an organic air defense capability they were able to get off a MANPAD shot and shoot one down.

  • A.WChuck

    I was under the impression the 40mm Bofors was dropped and replaced with something else due to the lack of replacement parts.
    *Update* Looks like it was tried and it did not work out so the Bofors was put back into service.

    • The USAF was able to purchase some vintage Bofors barrels from Greece. In order to provide enough guns for new gunship conversions, the USAF even managed to salvage some Bofors from M42 Dusters that were being used as range targets.

      • n0truscotsman

        I know that the barrels from wartime stored 40mm guns were apparently one of the bad actors in the York SPAAG program, which is why it couldn’t hit the broadside of a 50-head capacity barn. Improper long term storage, warping, etc.

  • nemmal

    Is it a bird?, is it a plane? It’s a AC-130 gunship run for lives!

  • claymore

    I talked with an “Army Adviser” in El Salvador in the 80’s it was a terrible situation as the number of US personnel was limited by congress to something like 21 people.

    They weren’t supposed to go out on directed missions by could go on “training missions” with their indig troops. These missions just happened to be directed by the local authorities to areas with heavy enemy activity.

    They were so under manned sometimes they would be singleton on these missions and they to a man praise the AC-130 gunships as they saved their bacon on a bunch of occasions when by “happenstance” the AC-130s were on their own “training missions” in the same area. Any AC-130 crewperson never has to buy a drink when they come into contact with any of these El Salvador veterans.

    • RocketScientist

      When I was a cadet at USAFA, my AOC was a former fire control officer on an AC130 in the Balkans. Man he had some stories to tell (and some impressive thermal camera footage). Said they always liked to open and close their attacks with the howitzer, like a calling card. Everyone knew there was only one airborne platform with that kind of armament. Also one of my high school coaches (and lifelong mentor) was a former Green Beret. Told me many of his guys, on their deployment cards and such, under the field for “Religion:___________” would put in “Spectre” or “Spooky”. After seeing evidence of what those virds can do, I can definitely understand that.

  • USMC03Vet


  • Justin Roney

    Nothing quite says Foxtrot Uniform like artillery from above.

    • Ken


  • Fruitbat44

    Somethings make you realise that sometimes it truly is better to give than receive.

  • Phil Hsueh

    I like how the crewmen are wearing ACU(?) in Multicam/OCP instead of ABUS. I guess because they’re technically in support of ground troops they can get away with wearing OCP.

    • Ron

      They are AFSOC

      • Phil Hsueh

        I suppose that would explain why no ABUs.

    • n0truscotsman

      Which highlights why the ABU was a horrible idea, and the creators should be tried for waste and abuse.

  • kbroughton77

    I realize at 4000 rounds p/m you don’t need to be too precise, but how accurate is the gau-12 on board a gunship like that?

  • Ron

    It is an area fire weapon system but it is accurate enough to hit single men in the open.
    There was this one time in Fallujah were the Mujahedeen did not understand how the AC-130s’ locate targets and thought standing still would prevent them from being attacked. The bird just put one 40mm on each one of the group as they stood there still against a wall.

    • Isaac Newton

      Maybe they watched too much Jurassic park?

  • Billy Jack

    My kind of shopping cart. I believe dispatching these to hospitals is part of the Affordable Care Act Addendum.

  • Isaac Newton

    Wicked! Bookmarked to watch every 4th of July…and April 15th.

  • Ron

    Right now the ’05 and 40 use quick fuzes instead of air bursting fuzes. The use of advanced fuzed ammunition from an AC-130 is still a bridge too far, because the technical solution for a timed air bust from flying aircraft is significantly harder than it is from moving ground vehicle. I am not sure why they have a reticence to use VT fuzes other than possibility of arming time could potentially put the aircraft in danger.

  • Friend of Tibet

    I have a stupid question……say you are part of the insurgency group and are now targeted by AC130 or AH64 from far far way.

    Once they open fire but you did not get killed, you think “f that I am not doing this anymore”

    Can you then rise your hands, drop your weapon and surrender? I am sure the weapon operator will see your gensture….

    Will they still put a 40mm into your direction after you have clearly give up and surrender?

    • Tassiebush

      That’s the old dilemma of someone surrendering to you when you have no capacity to accept it or identify that they are. It applies to a lot of scenarios. Artillery, air warfare or individual crew members of a vessel or vehicle that has not. I recall reading about British in the Falklands being stuck with this problem when some Argentine soldiers waved the white flag after being sniped at but exposed ground lay between them. In the context of aircraft it’s even less possible.

      • Friend of Tibet

        Thanks for the answer, so basically once you are targeted you are ready to roll credits…..

        • Tassiebush

          Yeah it seems that way. I think rules of engagement change depending on a situation too. I recall seeing a documentary on British soldiers being trained in a peacekeeper scenario about when they could fire. The example was a grenade throwing person who then flees. Up until grenade leaves hand they could shoot but after that point they could not. Going back to the gunship example I think the only maybe would be if you had ground forces to surrender to. Suicide bombers would also be a development that makes it harder to accept surrender.
          Actually I just pondered another interesting surrender scenario. What can be done if a vastly more numerous foe surrender. Unmanageable numbers when you lack capacity to contain them.

    • Ron

      The honest answer is it is a judgment call at the time of observation. By the LOAC if they attempt to surrender you are not suppose to engage them and take them into custody. However, how does an Aircraft or in the case of drone observer fires take them into custody? Unless you can take them into custody, you are not under an obligation to allow an identified or declare hostile opponent to escape to fight another day.

      • Friend of Tibet

        thanks for the answer, that’s what I figured.

  • TheSmellofNapalm

    How often is the 25mm currently used in combat? I know A-10s love lighting up the ground with their 30mm GAU-8s

    • Ron

      Army Bradley’s used 25mm to great effect in Iraq, and Marine LAVs used them in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
      The AV-8 uses has used the GAU-12 quite a bit. But like all fixed, forwarded firing cannons and guns on aircraft, their effects are mostly psychological.

      • TheSmellofNapalm

        Whoah, I disagree. The A-10 took out more vehicles than any other aircraft in Desert Storm. Its combat effeftiveness is off the charts. It even took out an enemy helicopter with the 30mm, and it’s still the most popular CAS today.

        • TJbrena

          Barely any of those kills were with the gun. The GAU-8 is mostly psychological as a weapon. Very few places the 30mm DU round can penetrate even on a “monkey model” T-72, and the spread isn’t great either, so the A-10 has to be pretty low (and lucky) to hit them.

          • TheSmellofNapalm

            Please site your sources. Everything I’ve read has said that the 30×173 is extremely effective.

          • Ron

            Actually the AH-64 killed more tanks than any aircraft in Desert Storm which was actually was less than the number of tanks killed by other tanks.

            You may want Google something called the CAS Myth and Cult of the Gun. To summarize even back in the TASVAL 79 that developed the TTP for the A-10 they realized the AGM-65 was the primary tank killing weapon but pilots had a visceral connection to firing the gun even if it was not effective all that effective at killing tanks and normally resulted in the aircraft being damaged by enemy fire.

            If you can get on DTIC you can find a study called A-10C-30 MILLIMETER HIGH EXPLOSIVE INCENDIARY AND TARGET PRACTICE WEAPONS EFFECTS TACTICS DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION- it points to the fact that 30mm gun is not all that effective in the current operating environment. Throw in today we don’t use DU because of environmental concerns.
            As a JTAC I have seen multiple gun runs in which there were a lot of sparks and dust kicked up, but the dispersion of the gun, combined with the minimal frag produced by its HEI round allowed the intended target to run away.

          • TJbrena

            40ft dispersion at 4,000ft. 55mm of RHA penetration with the API (read: DU) ammunition at roughly the same distance. . Warsaw Pact tanks are generally smaller as well. Mobility kills or disabling optics is certainly possible, but the gun isn’t much use for real kills against T-64s and later models unless divebombing and pulling up very late.

          • Ron

            For qualification for use, the GAU-8 must demonstrate that 80 percent of its rounds will impact within a 5 mili-radian dispersion pattern when fired from a static mount. At its high rate of fire of 4200 rounds per minute it fires 70 rounds per second (typical burst is 100 rounds). Since the aircraft fires these rounds while moving for approximately 1.26 second (both forward, down or up at several hundred KPH, discounting the effects of winds on the aircraft or its natural vibration when flying) you create quite a bit larger dispersion pattern than what you see if fired from a fixed mount.

        • n0truscotsman

          You are absolutely correct. The A10s role has recently been downplayed /historically revised by certain interests in the AF (and those on the civilian side who support F35 allocation, like Ron’s sourced author for “CAS Myth…”).

          The entire thing has become a cluster with competing interests engaged in a ‘winner takes all’ knife fight for supremacy.

          Although it is becoming long in the tooth, the A10 is one of the most successful aircraft ever fielded in any nation’s arsenal. Hey I suppose while competing interests are more concerned with engaging in their political budget fights, than actually *winning wars*, Im grateful Im no longer in a position to ever see combat again.

          • Ron

            The way I explain it, the ideal CAS platform for the current environment is something like the Super Tucano, AirLand Scorpion or Air Tractor AT-802U. But those are not in the US inventory, so we use a mid-end aircraft because everything else is even higher end. So we use a Trans am to drive the kid school because the only other options are a vette, or a Ferrari.

        • The Raven

          Owe my life to a pair of Hog Drivers, during Storm.

      • n0truscotsman


        Thats not what the Taliban in Afghanistan *learned* when my unit needed CAS.
        There is nothing ‘psychological’ about becoming human mincemeat.

        I doubt the Serbs and Iraqis came to any different conclusions.

        • Ron

          Did you actually collect up the dead bodies? Because I have walked the ground after gun runs and it is very rare to actually find dead or even blood trails.
          A typical 100 round burst normally has an oblong dispersion pattern of 160x50m, since they use a mix of low fragmentation HEI and solid projectiles there are a lot of gaps in areas of danger in the beaten zone.
          So yeah it does scare the hell out of the target but often does not kill or wound the target.

          • n0truscotsman

            Collect what? LOL. Maybe if I had a 5 gallon bucket and shovel. That is about as absurd as picking up pieces following a PGM strike.

            Im not discussing dispersion or anything of the sort. My point is the erroneous belief that the gun is a ‘psychological’ weapon (which I’ve been hearing about since the ODS era), which is refuted by recent experience when it has *actually* had targets.

            Thats the type of ‘downplaying’ that I mentioned before (I swear, its either one extreme or the other with this subject).

          • Ron

            Well dispersion is very important in the discussion of a gun runs and its supposed ability to turn a human body into hamburger if you have 5-10 meters between impacts (think about that there are gaps between 15 and 30 feet inside the burst where you are not in danger of being hit) and most of the rounds are solid projectiles (current combat mix is 4-1 TP-HEI) than unless you are very unlucky and are hit by a 30mm solid projectile, which really only makes a fist size hole in someone or are within a meter of one of 20 or so HEI rounds in the burst nothing will happen to you. So the impacts are nothing like you see on most videos of static high cyclic rate guns in which the target is inundated with hits
            We normally do collect the bodies and or parts following JDAM, Hfire strikes and even guns runs when able. It is part of SSE, part of the reason for that 1) to dispose of them properly to prevent them being used in the enemy IO saying we desecrated the bodies 2) to check if they are carrying useful battle field intelligence (like are weapons provided by the Iranians, what freqs are on their ICOMs, etc) and also to take DNA samples to turn over the CIED guys to see if the dead are linked back to residue of IEDs

  • Leigh Rich


  • Solace Greer

    This is why everyone wants to be a pilot. Tanks are so last century.

  • Sickshooter0

    Does anyone know what ATF form I need to complete to get one of these?

  • Core

    Truly amazing. I’m extremely grateful for the work these combat aircrew folks do. I couldn’t express my gratitude enough.

  • alex archuleta

    Get some!

  • Ron

    Flown by the AAF

  • MichaelZWilliamson

    Now that’s a lot of Freedom.

  • RickOAA .

    Two minutes of pure win