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WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio: The AC-130U Gunship, managed by Aeronautical Systems Center's Special Operations Forces Systems Group here, is undergoing an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration for a standoff precision-guided munition called Viper Strike.
Viper Strike is a small, precision-attack munition with guide/glide fins and a 4-pound High Explosive Anti-Tank, or HEAT warhead. It has a man-in-loop control and is capable of destroying mobile targets such as armored vehicles from standoff range.
Viper Strikes are currently in use in support of the global war on terrorism and are perfectly suited for special operations missions in urban and mountainous areas day or night.
The AC-130 Systems Squadron at ASC currently has three people working with the Air Force Special Operations Command on the program upgrade, preparing for potential future demonstration transition to the center.
Viper Strike is a gliding munition capable of stand-off
precision attack using GPS-aided navigation and a semi-active laser seeker. It is intended for operations that require a flexible angle of inclination (steep or shallow), particularly in mountainous terrain or built-up areas where strict rules of engagement are in force. Its small size and precision provide for low collateral damage in cluttered urban environments.
Originally posted by Canada_EH
Does anyone know how long we can expect to have these airframes for and if there is a replacement program going on?
The AC-130H Spectre gunship's primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. Other missions include perimeter and point defense, escort, landing, drop and extraction zone support, forward air control, limited command and control, and combat search and rescue. These heavily armed aircraft incorporate side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower or area saturation during extended periods, at night and in adverse weather. The sensor suite consists of a low-light-level television sensor and an infrared sensor. Radar and electronic sensors also give the gunship a method of positively identifying friendly ground forces as well as effective ordnance delivery during adverse weather conditions. Navigational devices include an inertial navigation system and global positioning system.
Originally posted by FredT
THere has been talk about buying some C-130J's for the AC role. More fuel and power etc. There also remains persistent rumors of an proposed AC-17 variant. That is unlikely as they are not going to be able to buy enough of the C-17's for lift let alone a gunship.