Death From Above: America's Fearsome AC-130 Gunship on Steroids

The Lockheed AC-130 gunship is a heavily armed, long-endurance, ground-attack variant of the C-130 Hercules transport, fixed-wing aircraft. It carries a wide array of ground attack weapons that are integrated with sophisticated sensors, navigation, and fire-control systems. Unlike other modern military fixed-wing aircraft, the AC-130 relies on visual targeting. Because its large profile and low operating altitudes of approximately 7,000 feet (2,100 m) make it an easy target, its close air support missions are usually flown at night.

Key Point: Once the gunship is upgraded, the AC-130 will become an integral part of U.S. overseas operations.

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