Warplanes: Gunships Come Out Of The Darkness


U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has, for the first time since the Vietnam War, allowed its MC-130 gunships to operate in daytime. For the last four decades, it was believed too dangerous for these low, slow flying, heavily armed aircraft to operate when the sun was up. The key to this change is new weapons being used by gunships. The new, small, missiles enable the slow, large, MC-130s to operate above the range of ground fire. The new SOCOM MC-130W “Dragon Spear” is also based on an idea developed by the U.S. Marine Corps, the “instant gunship.” The first one of these arrived in Afghanistan five months ago. Four months ago, it fired one of its weapons (a Hellfire missile) for the first time (killing five Taliban). Called “Harvest Hawk,” the marine “instant gunship” system, enables weapons and sensors to be quickly rolled into a C-130 transport and hooked up. This takes a few hours, and turns the C-130 into a gunship (similar in capabilities existing AC-130 gunships). The sensor package consists of day/night vidcams with magnification capability. The weapons currently consist of ten Griffin missiles and four Hellfires. A 30mm autocannon is optional.

Warplanes: Gunships Come Out Of The Darkness


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