AC-130 Overworked In Iraq, Afghanistan

March 13th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: AC-130 Overworked In Iraq, Afghanistan

This is true... they are being very stressed

March 12, 2008
CBS Evening News, 6:30 PM
KATIE COURIC: And the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are also putting tremendous strain on military equipment, including the workhorse plane that protects troops on the ground. There are new concerns tonight that America’s aging AC-130s are falling apart.
David Martin has this exclusive report.
DAVID MARTIN: A prop plane in a jet age and an ungainly one at that. But the AC-130 gunship may well be the single most overworked piece of equipment in the American arsenal. When it takes on a full load of ammunition, it becomes a flying tank and every time Special Operations Forces conduct a mission in Iraq and Afghanistan, an AC-130 covers them from the air.
LT. COL. MARK CLAWSON [AC-130 Pilot]: We are the number one aircraft for percentage of combat time, and total time over the course of the year.
MARTIN: The airplane Lt. Col. Mark Clawson is flying on today’s training mission has been in service for 17 years, but the war is making the gunship old before its time.
CLAWSON: We’ve been flying at a rate four times what they ever anticipated, so effectively this is a 40-year-old C-130 in the way it reacts.
MARTIN: The back of the plane is filled with crew members, instruments, computers, guns and ammo, so full it’s at maximum gross weight.
CLAWSON: That basically mean I’m at max throttles, max gross weight, and it’s max wear and tear on the aircraft on a daily basis.
MARTIN: You rarely see an AC-130 gunship in action because they operate at night and in secret. But they’re seeing so much action in Iraq and Afghanistan that it’s getting harder and harder to keep them flying.
CAPT. JAMES MAY [AC-130 Maintenance Officer]: We’re flying the wings off them literally.
MARTIN: Capt. James May says cracks are already starting to show in the wings, which will have to be replaced five years ahead of schedule – and that’s just the wings. For every hour of flying, a gunship needs 14 hours of maintenance.
MAY: These airframes are getting so old that we’ve got stuff breaking on them that has never broken before.
MARTIN: But on this flight, it’s the guns that break down. First, the 40mm cannon jams –
CREW MEMBER: This is horrible.
MARTIN: – then the big 105mm Howitzer refuses to fire on automatic. A few love taps with a wrench, but still no go.
CREW MEMBER: They’re just old and tired. It’s all right, old girl.
MARTIN: There’s one way that does work –
CREW MEMBER: Ready, ready, fire.
MARTIN: – the old fashion way. Even firing manually, the AC-130 is a fearsome weapon. The one gun that does work flawlessly on this mission, the 25mm Gatling gun, fires at a rate of 1,800 rounds per minute. If Special Operations Forces ever get a chance to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, an AC-130 gunship will almost certainly be part of the operation; that is, if it’s still flying by then.
David Martin, CBS News, Hurlburt Field, Florida.
March 14th, 2008  
A Can of Man
March 14th, 2008  
That's highly unlikely. The figures from 2001 for the cost of an AC-130H variant is $132.4 million is US dollars, and for an AC-130U variant is $190 million. And due to all thats happened since that time, with the United States in or nearing recession, the price has more than likely inflated to about $2-3 million or more.
March 14th, 2008  
Team Infidel
if they build it, they will pay... regardless.
March 15th, 2008  
Amen to that.
March 15th, 2008  

Topic: C-130

I think the C-130J cost the air force about $50M per by buying in numbers and on the market it costs about $75M per piece. I didn't know the price jumps up that much for the AC-variant. The weapons are pretty common but I guess the guidance systems and computers, IR equipment, and other special goodies bring the price up. Can only imagine what a shinny brand new J model would cost to convert to AC gunship type?
March 15th, 2008  
This aircraft is a truly magnificent concept. I hope that someone is getting their priorities right and there is something in the pipeline.

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