Monday, March 06, 2006

US sending AC-130 Spectre-class gunships to Iraq

The Washington Times has a story up this morning that the US is sending, as the story calls them, “flying gunships” to Iraq. The ships are AC-130H Spectre gunships, a variant of the C-130 Hercules 4-engine tranport aircraft. (Upgraded versions of the Spectre are designated AC-130U “Spooky”.) These are a devastating resource to bring to any battlefield situation. The Spectres can loiter for literally hours and rain down an amount of firepower that would give pause to anyone, military or otherwise. Unprotected troops can be decimated in seconds by this platform and it’s extremely hard to run from them. Their sighting systems are also quite precise allowing a good pilot to engage a single vehicle out of a convoy and not significantly impact any others.

To be honest, I’m surprised that these ships weren’t already in the theatre. Their ability to secure a wide area and provide quick-strike capability using weapons ranging from 25mm and 40mm cannon up to a 105mm “Howitzer” would seem to be tailor-made to interdicting sabotage and the “rat lines” used to smuggle in terrorists and weapons. Of course, I’m not working at the Pentagon, so what do I know? Should be interesting.