Spectre and Spooky

ExAF

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Saw the AC-130U referred to as "Spooky" on CNN today. I've always known the AC-130 as "Specter." I never worked with the "U" model though. Can any of you SOW guys tell me if the "U" model has its own nickname of "Spooky," or was it an error on CNN? By the way...in case nobody has told you lately, you guys do great work! Keep it up!
 

trueblue

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Although I am not a gunship pilot, CNN was probably not wrong for once. I fly in the Florida Panhandle (near Eglin and Hurlburt) and hear the call sign all the time. "Spooky" was the call sign for AC-47 Gunships during Vietnam. They were also known as "Puff", as in Puff the Magic Dragon. Either way, whether, "Puff" or the more official, "Spooky" those gunships did a wonderful, and often unrecognized service in Vietnam. Today's C-130 Spooky's are continuing the proud legacy and doing a kick-ass job for all of us. Not entirely sure, but perhaps AC-130 = Spectre and MC-130 = Spooky (??)
 

maverick_fp00

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I fly out of Panama City and a member of the Tyndall Aero Club. What airport do you fly out of?
 

trueblue

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I am an AF type, at NAS Pensacola, instructing in T-34s. Previous C-141 guy for 5 years at McGuire AFB in Springsteen land. By no means am I an expert on gunships, but my Dad flew AC-47 Spooky's in Vietnam when I was busy being born and highly respect their role today and back when my old man flew them. Best of luck!
 

ShawnC

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Well according to Boeing Lit (during the last carrier fair I scopped up any good lit with plane pics on the front) the AC-130U has the same nickname as it Vietnam counter-part the AC-47 which is Spooky. It also states that they are assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command 4th Special Operations Squadren based at Hubert Field, Florida. It also states that 13 had been converted from C-130H. The piece was copyrighted in 1997 so it might be a little old.

I believe the Spectre is the SOCOM bird with the TV equipment, and the low lvl SECOPs insertion equipment.

Trueblue: NAS Pensacola eh, my friend rents T-34s out of NAS Jax, quite intresting, lot of Floridians here, oh well its IFR/MVFR at Daytona, not bad in Lakeland (perfect soaring weather as long as the rain stays away), hows it up in the pan handle?
 

Spectre

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I flew the AC-130Hs and their callsign is "Spectre." The AC-130Us are "Spooky." There are several differences. The AC-130H are all 1969 models. Many of them served in Vietnam. Their current configuration has one 105mm and one 40mm cannon aft of the left wheel wells. The original twin 20mm cannons up front have been removed due to lack of parts (feeders) and for weight savings. This empty space also allows for more ammo. The H- model is also unpressurized. We used to fly across the Atlantic at 10,000 feet to avoid putting on our oxygen masks/helmets. The H-model has its TV/Laser/IR pointer mounted where a C-130's crew entrance door is (this big hole is one reason the aircraft is unpressurized). Crew configuration is also different. A pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, navigator, and fire control officer sit up in the cockpit of an H-model. Both have about the same defensive capabilities (the H slightly better) --won't go into classified stuff here! Both aircraft have about the same accuracy. Both can air refuel. The H-model can be distinguised by 2 huge chin mounted antenaes (jammers).

The U-model is an 80s model C-130. It has a 25mm cannon up front, as well as the same configuration of 40mm and 105mm cannon found on the H-model. All guns are hydraulically trained. The U-model can pressurize, but has to unpressurize to shoot. Its TV is mounted on a turret, thus the crew entrance door can be used much like other C-130s. It got rid of some of the steam gauges in the cockpit and has limited MCDUs/glass. Only a pilot, copilot, and flight engineer in the cockpit. The rest of the crew is in back or in a "battle management control" (BMC or booth). The U-model also has an F-15 Strike Eagle radar for limited all weather capability. There are other differences, but these are the major ones. Hope I helped.
 

ExAF

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Thanks

Thanks Spectre,
Your post was exactly the info I was looking for. Had the pleasure of working with you guys a lot down in Panama. It is an awesome machine that will be around for a long time to come. There is nothing better for "Danger Close" CAS. Cheers....ExAF
 

ExAF

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Ahem!

The Hog is a great CAS machine as well, but I stand by my original statement that THERE IS NOTHING BETTER FOR "DANGER CLOSE" CAS THAN THE VENERABLE AC-130! It doesn't matter if it is a H or a U model. ;) Fly, Fight and Win!
 

HueyPilot

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Future AC-130 pilot?

I'm currently flying C-21s out of Maxwell, and I've got a tactical airlift follow-on. I've flown into Hurlburt and Duke, and I've really thought alot about the AFSOC mission. My first choice out of C-21s will likely be E-models at Ramstein (can't pass up a Europe tour), but it's pretty hard to get that.

I'm leaning heavily now to AC-130s, or even MC-130s as my next choices. Everyone here says I should go slicks because I can avoid getting 'stuck' in AFSOC, but to be honest with you, I've already got 10 years in (prior Army helo pilot) with another 2 years here at Maxwell. I miss the tactical stuff (NVGs, low-level, etc), but I didn't want to fly fighters (I like big airplanes/helicopters).

Another guy told me it would be a bad move because after making IP/EP in C-21s, I wouldn't like sitting in the right seat for a couple years, but again, I really don't care that much.

How hard do you think it would be for me to get AFPC to put a gunship or Talon in my assignment 'drop'? Aside from the current ops due to OEF, what is the usual ops tempo for gunships and Talons (or even Shadows)? My wife doesn't like me gone TDY (what wife ever does), but she'd only be 4-5 hours from home. I've still got a long time to think about this (we usually have to put our preferences down about a year out from our projected PCS date), but I really don't know any AFSOC pilots....everyone I've run into so far either flew slicks or ECs (I am NOT going to fly an EC....).

Thanks for the info.
 

JimNtexas

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HueyPilot, if you'll forgive a comment from a retired ex-wso. I worked a little when I was in SparkVarks with both MC and AC-130s.

I have to say they are both great airplanes and great crews. But the MC-130's mission is sometimes beyond awesome.

Jim
 

Spectre

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Huey Pilot,

Having been an EP in AC-130Hs, I will have to tell you that the saying is true about "once in AFSOC, always in AFSOC." Special Ops requires a lot of training. You get to shoot just about everytime you fly the gunpig. You can't say that in any other type of USAF aircraft. The gunship mission has you refuel, fly low level, and do the required qual proficiencies as well. Although you are given the basics, it takes a few years to develop the ART of shooting a 105mm shell out of an airplane. Thus, 5 years is a typical commitment once you enter the Special Ops career. AFPC will allow you to sometimes goto an ATC assignment to fly T-1s or T-37s, but you will return to Special Ops in one way or another. I enjoyed my 5 years there at Hurlburt. Bosnia was winding down in 1995. The new U-model came on-line about the same time. Thus, our deployments were shared with another gunship squadron. Once I moved to the 19 SOS, the RTU, I went on deployments only when I wanted to. The typical TDY for pilots ran about 30-45 days a year. That was before 9/11. Talking to friends, now they are on the road A LOT! With this being a special ops kinda war, I can see TDY's 6 months +++. Don't believe what you hear about upgrades. If you have previous experience in other aircraft, you could upgrade in about 1 year to the left seat. The mission as well as running a crew of 14 prevents pilots straight out of UPT from upgrading any earlier than about 3-4 years. It's very rare to get pilots out of UPT though. You'll do a lot of flying around the flag-pole too. There aren't that many land ranges we can shoot on in the country. We used to be able to shoot out on the Gulf of Mexico, but fish lovers thought we were disturbing the dolphins. So, if you like TDYs to see the world, goto slick C-130s or MC-130s. We had 2 previous C-21 guys in our squadron and they all did fine. Hope I helped a little.
 

hawg2hawk

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Ahem

ExAF,

Maybe in a permissive threat environment. :)
 

Goose17

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MC-130s

HueyPilot, trueblue;

Having recently separated after 9+ years flying for AFSOC, I can say it was a great time. My background is all MC-130s. I started out in the HC-130N/P Combat Shadow which was redesignated as the MC-130P. It was/is a fun plane, but expect to be TDY extensively. The MC-130P and also the MC-130E Combat Talon I are helicopter refueling platforms (and many other missions) and thus are normally tied to the helos for deployments/TDYs.

After a few years, I was lucky enough to switch over to the MC-130H Combat Talon II. This is the plane pictured in my icon. It was the Air Force's first glass cockpit and began operationally flying in the early 90s. Although the plane is slated for helo refueling pods, it is not yet been modified. What this means is that we really didn't have "rotations". Many of our TDYs were self driven and GREAT flying.

I know the focus of this thread has been on the mighty gunship, but there were a few references to the MCs. I can say this though - there is no other flying like it. A typical flight would involve a "blacked out takeoff" (no lights externally or on the rwy), a 5 hour low level or so consisting of terrain following (radar) at 250', penetration flight down to 100', air refueling (receiving), airdrop equipment/dudes, blacked out landings on crazy little landing zones, and tons of other fun/crazy stuff. It is some well trained people playing with some advanced expensive toys.

Hopefully that helps.

Goose17
 

Spectre

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Hawg2Hawk

Actually, the best is 2 A-10s on the wing of an AC-130. We did that in Bosnia several times. The AC-130s have a capability to designate targets with a laser. To add, gunships also have the capability to spot a target with an IR pointer. This allowed for hard target kills (tanks etc) whereby the A-10s would roll in under our direction.

There is no such thing as a permissive environment these days. Somolia was the closest thing to a permissive environment for gunships. However, I know of some crews who had to land their aircraft in Mog. So, how permissive is it when the locals take pot shots at you on take off and landing? Ask a Blackhawk pilot there, and he'd tell you it wasn't a permissive environment.

Scud hunting in Iraq was not permissive for gunships, but we did it anyway. Lost one AC-130H near Kuwait to an IR missile 31 Jan 1991 during the battle of Khafji.

Flying over Bosnia wasn't permissive either. Let's see, they shot down an F-16 and an F-117 in the same airspace AC-130s flew.

Most pilots will agree, I'd much rather fly in a permissive environment rather than a high threat environment. Reality is, depending on the mission, we are often subjected to medium to high threat. The SAM rings would disappear from the missions we had to do, only to return several days later on our off days.

But hey, at least the tanker crews over the Adriatic were getting Air Medals, while were getting Aerial Achievement Medals.

To wrap this up, the gunpig has quite a suite of defensive equipment managed by an EWO. Better than a B-1's. Future equipment will directly engage IR missiles. That's a couple years away.
 

HueyPilot

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Learjets to Herks

I'm pretty sure I'm going to put Ramstein first, followed by gunships. Then it's a toss-up between Little Rock and Pope, and MC-130s. I guess it just boils down to having to talk to some slick pilots up at the other two units. One guy I knew who flew for the 2nd AS said he was TDY overseas for 6 months out of the year flying those old beat-up E models. I had a friend of mine who was a HC-130P FE before he went to OTS, and he was gone TDY at least 6 months a year, if not more. His wife divorced him over it! If I can't be home, then being somewhere close to 'home' is the next best thing. But I think Florida is about as close as I'll get to my wife's hometown in southern Louisiana, so I may keep AFSOC high on the list even if I don't get a gunship.

Thanks alot for the info. I appreciate it all.
 

hawg2hawk

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Ex-AF,

Relax, I was pulling your chain.
 

ShawnC

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Re: Hawg2Hawk

Spectre said:
Lost one AC-130H near Kuwait to an IR missile 31 Jan 1991 during the battle of Khafji.
I read about that AC-130 he was about to disengage (he was suggested to get out by the Joint Stars and the Sentries), because the sun was rising, but he wanted to do one more pass and they got him with a shoulder fired SAM.
 

ExAF

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Check the Poster!

Hawg2Hawk,
That was Spectre not ExAF on the reply above. I saw the ;) and know from whence thou speakest! Cheers!:D
 
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