Terrible firepower! The U.S. Army’s “most powerful air gunship”. -It’s the one that just did a live fire exercise in the Philippines!

Recently, the U.S. Air Force’s newest generation of air gunships, the AC-130J Ghostrider, conducted its first live-fire exercise in the Philippines, code-named Balikatan. AC-130Js provided close air fire support to the target area.

The flight was the AC-130J’s first overseas assignment and first live fire exercise.

The AC-130J is the latest version of the AC-130 series of attack aircraft, also known as the “Ghost Rider”. With more advanced engines, avionics systems and precision strike packages, the AC-130J is the most advanced attack aircraft in the AC-130 series, with a maximum takeoff weight of 74 tons and a payload of 19 tons.

In terms of firepower, the AC-130J retains a 105mm howitzer, which can carry 80 shells at a rate of 10 per minute, enough to destroy strong ground fortifications, and a 30mm automatic lateral gun with a rate of fire of 200 rounds per minute. With precision-guided munitions mounted on the wings, the AC-130J has a powerful precision ground strike capability and is therefore called the most powerful “air gunship” by the USAF.

Although the AC-130J follows the U.S. Air Force’s aircraft numbering scheme and is part of the Air Force’s operational sequence, it is not fully under the command of the Air Force, but rather belongs to the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command.

The presence of an AC-130J anywhere means not just that a gunship with incredible firepower has arrived, but that special operations are underway. How many Special Forces troops the U.S. is sending to a specific location, whether it’s the Army’s Delta or the Marine Corps’ SEALs, is not disclosed in the news.

The AC-130J that went to the Philippines for the exercise belonged to the 73rd Special Operations Squadron, an old unit formed in 1929.

According to the news, this AC-130J was moved from the U.S. mainland base to Kadena Base in Okinawa and then temporarily sent to the Philippines for the mission. According to the information, the combat radius of the AC-130J without air refueling is 500 nautical miles, or about 800 kilometers. If it takes off from the Philippines, then the Spratly islands are basically within its combat radius.

For the U.S. military gunship aircraft, in fact, most people’s understanding is in film and television dramas or games, but this type of aircraft in the implementation of fire support missions to the ground, especially against exposed groups of living targets, the effect is really very obvious, from the air overhead shooting boundary advantage and mobility advantages, are easier to make fire support.

Gunboat AC-130: Not all aircraft with guns are as powerful as brother

In terms of concept, the use of air superiority, hovering in the target area, using lateral weapons to attack directly on the ground, is not modern, but the U.S. military will play the concept of gunboat aircraft “Hollywood” flavor But the U.S. military has made the concept of gunships “Hollywood”.

In the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army found that the Vietnamese army suddenly concentrated a large number of troops to attack U.S. positions in many cases, ground support fire in determining the target and the timeliness of support does not take advantage of, so the gunboat aircraft began to appear, that is, AC-47, using the model is the U.S. Army in World War II often photographed C-47 transport aircraft, itself is a military version of the DC-3 passenger aircraft, has the characteristics of durability.

The AC-47 was initially equipped with the M-2 machine gun, mainly due to a shortage of higher rate of fire rotary barrel machine guns, later the AC-47 was equipped with three 7.62mm Gatling machine guns, a single machine gun rate of fire up to 6000 rounds per minute, with 16,500 rounds of ammunition, of course, the machine gun is not “straddle not put”, but 3 Of course, the machine gun is not “straddling”, but once every three seconds to point and shoot.

In actual combat, the U.S. Army found that the AC-47 air fire suppression effect is very good, and began to modify the larger C-199 transport aircraft, in 1968 appeared AC-199, its AC-199K equipped with weapons more “fire madness”, with four M134 machine guns, and two 20mm machine guns, firepower The firepower was quite amazing.

Of course, the most classic is the same period, the AC-130A appeared in 1967, the larger AC-130A equipped with two 7.62mm rapid-fire machine guns, two 20mm M61 machine guns, and two 40mm Bofors machine guns, firepower more “punch”, but also equipped with night vision radar, in the Vietnam War During the Vietnam War, the AC-130A destroyed more than 10,000 vehicles of the Viet Cong.

After the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army retained only one type of gunship, the AC-130, and continued to improve a variety of modifications, including the addition of a larger caliber M102 105mm howitzer in the H model, which made the gunship’s firepower more “robust” and participated in the Gulf War.

By the time of the Afghan War in 2001, the U.S. Army invested in newer AC-130U gunships, which were equipped with advanced electronic equipment such as newer AN/APQ-180 fire control radar and full active micro-light night vision cameras, data chain systems, and also upgraded firepower, using 25mm Gatling guns instead of the original 20mm guns, plus the fire control technology “halo”, the firing accuracy and density have been dramatically improved.

Now the AC-130U has also been retired and replaced by the latest AC-130J “Ghost Rider”, which not only flies higher and faster, but also carries more types of weaponry.

In addition to the 105mm howitzer and 30mm cannon, it can also carry Hellfire missiles, GBU-39 small diameter bombs, AGM-176 air-to-ground missiles, etc., making it more powerful and diverse in its strike capabilities.

The AC-130 gunships are equipped with 105mm airborne howitzers that can easily deal with enemy armored weapons or buildings, and the kill radius of one 105mm howitzer shell is as high as 1.3 kilometers. The AC-130 gunboats can make continuous attacks around the target, so whether it is personnel, armor or buildings on the ground, they will suffer major losses under the attacks of the AC-130 gunboats, and there is not a single piece intact where the gunboats have strafed.

Some military experts say that if the AC-130 gunships were to open up all of their on-board firepower, the amount of ammunition used in one minute would be equivalent to the amount of ammunition used by an infantry battalion fighting a medium battle.