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Air Force Fact Sheets
AC-130H Spectre
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The AC-130H Spectre gunship's primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. Other missions include perimeter and point defense, escort, landing, drop and extraction zone support, forward air control, limited command and control, and combat search and rescue.


These heavily armed aircraft incorporate side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower or area saturation during extended periods, at night and in adverse weather.

The sensor suite consists of a low-light-level television sensor and an infrared sensor. Radar and electronic sensors also give the gunship a method of positively identifying friendly ground forces as well as effective ordnance delivery during adverse weather conditions. Navigational devices include an inertial navigation system and global positioning system.


Spectre has an impressive combat history. During Vietnam, gunships destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and were credited with many life-saving close air support missions. AC-130s suppressed enemy air defense systems and attacked ground forces during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. This enabled the successful assault of Point Salines airfield via airdrop and airland of friendly forces.

The gunships had a primary role during Operation Just Cause in Panama by destroying Panamanian Defense Force Headquarters and numerous command and control facilities by surgical employment of ordnance in an urban environment. As the only close air support platform in the theater, Spectres were credited with saving the lives of many friendly personnel.

During Operation Desert Storm, Spectres provided air base defense and close air support for ground forces. AC-130s were also used during Operations Continue Hope and United Shield in Somalia, providing close air support for United Nations ground forces. The gunships have most recently played a pivotal role during operations in support of the NATO mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, providing air interdiction against key targets in the Sarajevo area.

General Characteristics

Primary Function: Close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance

Contractor: Lockheed Aircraft Corp.

Power Plant: Four Allison turboprop engines T56-A-15

Thrust: Each engine 4,910 horsepower

Length: 97 feet, 9 inches (29.8 meters)

Height: 38 feet, 6 inches (11.7 meters)

Maximum Takeoff Weight: 155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)

Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)

Range: 1,500 statute miles (1,300 nautical miles). Unlimited with air refueling.

Ceiling: 25,000 feet (7,576 meters)

Speed: 300 mph (Mach 0.40) (at sea level)

Armament: Two 20mm Vulcan cannons with 3,000 rounds, one 40mm Bofors cannon with 256 rounds and one 105mm howitzer with 100 rounds

Unit Cost: $46.4 million (1992 dollars)

Date Deployed: 1972

Crew: 14 -- five officers (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, fire control officer, electronic warfare officer); nine enlisted (flight engineer, loadmaster, low-light TV operator, infrared detection set operator, five aerial gunners)

Inventory: Active force, 8; Reserve, 0; ANG, 0

Point of Contact

Air Force Special Operations Command, Public Affairs Office; 100 Bartley Street; Hurlburt Field, Fla. 32544-5273; DSN 579-5515 or (904) 884-5515.

Above Information Courtesy of United States Air Force

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