The first operational AC-13U Spooky gunship to retire left the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., for storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Sept. 21, officials announced. Air Force Special Operations Command originally planned to retire a total of five AC-130Us but opted to retire only one citing operational demand in Iraq and Syria as well as delays fielding the new AC-130J. Serial number 90-0163, nicknamed “Bad Omen,” flew some 2,300 sorties and 10,000 hours, logging some 600 combat hours during its most recent deployment to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, alone. The airframe was selected for retirement primarily due to several non-standard modifications, according to AFSOC officials. Bad Omen’s departure leaves AFSOC with 28 gunships, including 16 AC-130Us and 12 AC-130W Stinger IIs, which the command plans to retain until new AC-130J Ghostrider gunships begin entering service.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.