AFSOC aircraft, part two

Courtesy photo: www.afsoc.af.mil AC-130 Gunship

The 27th Special Operations Wing will assume ownership of Cannon Air Force Base on Monday. By 2011, four types of aircraft will be assigned to Cannon.

AC-130 Gunship
With primary missions of close air support, air interdiction and force protection, the AC-130 Gunship features “side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower or area saturation during extended loiter periods, at night and in adverse weather,” according to the Armed Services Special Operations Web site.

Evolved from the AC-47, the first operational gunship, the AC-130 has been involved in combat since the Vietnam War, according to the AFSOC Web Site. The AC-130 has also flown missions in Grenada, Panama, Operation Desert Storm, Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sarajevo, and assisted in the evacuation of “American noncombatants in Albania and Liberia.” Recently the aircraft have been involved in “support of ground troops engaged with enemy forces” during Operation Enduring Freedom, according to the AFSOC Web site.

General characteristics
Primary Function: Close air support, air interdiction and force protection

Builder: Lockheed/Boeing Corp.

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

Thrust: 4,910 shaft horsepower each engine

Length: 97 feet, 9 inches (29.8 meters)

Height: 38 feet, 6 inches (11.7 meters)

Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)

Speed: 300 mph (Mach .4) (at sea level)

Range: Approximately 1,300 nautical miles; unlimited with air refueling.

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

Armament: AC-130H: 40mm and 105mm cannons; AC-130U: 40mm and 105mm cannons and 25mm gatling gun. AC-130Us are being retrofitted with 30mm Mk-44 single barrel cannons in place of the 40mm cannon and the 25mm gatling gun.

Unit Cost: AC-130H, $132.4 million; AC-130U, $190 million (fiscal 2001 constant dollars)

MC-130W Combat Spear
The MC-130W Combat Spear flies in “direct support of unified and theater special operations commands and USSOCOM contingencies,” according to the Armed Forces Special Operations Web site. The aircraft participates in “infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of U.S and allied special operations forces,” according the the AFSOC Web site.

Flying primarily at night in order to reduce operational risk, the aircraft is a modified C-130H(2), according to the AFSOC Web site. The MC-130W features “improved navigation, threat detection and countermeasures, and communication suites,” according to the AFSOC Web site.

The Combat Spear can conduct in-flight refueling as a receiver, and is equipped with Mk32B-902E refueling pods. The pods are “part of the most technologically advanced refueling system available, and provide the ability to refuel
special operations helicopters and the CV-22,” according to the AFSOC Web site.

General characteristics
Primary Function: Infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces; also provides in-flight refueling of special operations vertical lift assets

Builder: Lockheed

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

Thrust: 4,910 shaft horsepower each engine

Length: 98 feet, 9 inches (30.09 meters)

Height: 38 feet, 6 inches (11.7 meters)

Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)

Speed: 300 mph

Ceiling: 33,000 feet (10,000 meters)

Maximum Range with Maximum Normal Payload: 1,208 miles (1,050 NM); In-flight refueling extends this to unlimited range

Crew: Officers – pilot, copilot, two navigators; enlisted – flight engineer and two loadmasters

Unit Cost: $60 million

Source: http://www.afsoc.af.mil