Spooky Gun Swap Cancelled

Air Force Special Operations Command has abandoned a project to put two 30mm Bushmaster guns on each of its AC-130U Spooky gunships in place of the platform’s current 25mm Gatling gun and 40mm Bofors cannon. Brig. Gen. Brad Heithold, AFSOC’s head of plans, programs and requirements, told the Daily Report during an interview Aug. 11 that the effort was cancelled due to problems with the Bushmaster’s accuracy in testing as well as schedule considerations. “We were having issues with getting it to shoot accurately at the altitude we were employing it,” he said. AFSOC had planned initially to install the Bushmasters on its four newest AC-130Us that were purchased about five years ago and eventually outfit the entire Spooky fleet, which now stands at 17 aircraft. The swap-out would have given the gunships a profile of two 30mm guns and one 105mm howitzer. The four aircraft were fitted with the Bushmasters and were undergoing tests. But with the urgency to get the gunships back in the field and the accuracy issues that surfaced, “we could not stand the wait,” and the decision was made to scrap the effort earlier this summer, Heithold said. The Bushmasters were removed from the four aircraft, which, when they returned to combat, carried only their 40mm cannons not the 25mm guns due to spare parts and ammunition shortages. AFSOC does plan to reinstall the 25mm guns on those four aircraft at some future point.