Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: AC-130W
Origin: United States of America
Parent System: C-130 Hercules
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
23 August 1954
Family Members: AC-130J Ghostrider
, C-130H Hercules
, C-130J Super Hercules
, CC-130J Super Hercules
, EC-130J Commando Solo
, KC-130J Super Hercules
, MC-130H Talon II
, MC-130J Commando II
, MC-130W Combat Spear
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Description: The Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules is a medium-size transport aircraft designed to operate from rough dirt strips. The first prototype, the YC-130A, maiden flight took place in 1954. The first model C-130A achieved initial operational capability in December1956 becoming thereafter the most important cargo transport aircraft of the free world. Since then, the C-130s had assumed a wide range of military tasks such as airlift, airdrop, reconnaissance, special operations, close air support, electronic warfare, air refueling, etc. The C-130 features an aft loading ramp and door and is able to accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, including everything from utility helicopters and six- to eight-wheeled armored vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel. The Hercules can be configured to carry out different missions and re-configured to its original cargo transport mission.
To date, more than 2,400 C-130s in more than 70 variants to five basic models (A, B , E, H and J) have been produced for customers worldwide. In the first decade of 21st century the majority of C-130s in service belong to the E, H and J basic models introduced in the early 1960s, in the 1970s and late 1990s respectively. The US Air Force, Navy and Marines operate the C-130 aircraft as well as the air forces of 66+ other nations worldwide. The US Air Force plans to convert the surviving E and H models to the C-130AMP (Avionics Modernization Program) configuration beginning in 2007. AMP covers avionics modernization and some engine improvements to keep the fleet flying and serviceable well beyond 2020.
The AC-130H Specter and AC-130U Spooky have been designed to provide close air support, air interdiction and force protection. These heavily armed aircraft include side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensors (SAR, CCD-TV and IR), navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower during extended loiter periods, at night and in adverse weather. The AC-130U is the most advanced gunship aircraft in the world and can attack two targets simultaneously.
The AC-130 aircraft were first introduced in Vietnam scoring 10,000 Vietnamese trucks and many US soldiers while providing close air support. Subsequently they were employed in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983, Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001. The AC-130U Spooky aircraft can be armed with one 105mm cannon in addition to one 40mm, and one additional 25mm guns. The US Air Force operates a fleet of 13 AC-130U gunships.
The US Air Force and Boeing selected Lockheed-Martin's Gunship Multispectral Sensor System (GMS2) to replace ALLTV sensor onto US Air Force's AC-130Us. The development contract valued at $10.7 million was awarded on January 11, 2005. The program total value could amount to $35 million including production options. GMS2 will be integrated onto for four new AC-130U aircraft bought by the Air Force. The Boeing company expects to deliver the first of four AC-130Us ordered by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) in 2006. These aircraft were chosen by AFSOC due to their capabilities in support of operational missions in the global war on terrorism.
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