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Walther WA 2000 Sniper Rifle

21 Sep

The WA 2000 is a semi-automatic bullpup sniper rifle that was produced by the Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen company. It was produced in three different calibers. Production of the rifle was limited and it was shortly stopped because it was too expensive to achieve widespread sales. The rifle is currently rare and very valuable.

[edit] Design

The WA 2000 was designed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in response to the 1972 Summer Olympics Munich massacre.The bullpup design was chosen because it would allow a standard length (for a sniper rifle) barrel to be used whilst the overall length would be shorter than a conventional rifle. The WA 2000 had a quick-detachable scope mount with a weight of 0.96 kg (2.1 lb).[2] The rifle did not have iron sights.The most commonly used optical sight was a Schmidt & Bender 2.5-10X telescopic sight. With no scope equipped, the rifle has an unloaded weight of 6.95 kg (15.3 lb) and a loaded weight of 7.35 kg (16.2 lb).

The .300 Winchester Magnum round was chosen as the primary caliber because of its long range accuracy and its consistency at all ranges. The entire rifle is designed around the barrel. The WA 2000 fires from a closed bolt and uses a bolt with seven locking lugs. It has a two-stage trigger with a trigger pull of 1.2 to 1.4 kg (2.65 to 3.1 lb).The rifle uses single stack box magazines that feature a 6-round capacity. When loaded, this magazine has a weight of 0.4 kg (0.88 lb).

[edit] Variants

The WA 2000 was chambered for the .300 Winchester Magnum, but also the 7.62x51mm NATO and 7.5x55mm Swiss.

Only 176 total rifles (15 of which are in the United States) were ever produced, and in two different variants. The two variants can be differentiated by the type of flash suppressor used: the first, the older model, uses a “can” type flash suppressor; whereas the second generation and newer model uses the more conventional “flash-hider/compensator” design. The second generation incorporated several changes improving the rifle’s accuracy, making it more suited to its intended job.

[edit] Production

The rifle was produced from 1982 until November 1988. The rifle was used by some German police units, but production was stopped because it was too expensive to achieve widespread sales.The final retail cost for a base rifle in the 1980s was in the range of $9,000 to $12,500, and the rifle’s current value ranges from $40,000 for the first gen. to $75,000 for the 2nd gen.

Walther WA 2000
Walther WA 2000.
Type Sniper Rifle
Place of origin  West Germany
Service history
Used by German police units
Production history
Designed 1970s-1980s
Manufacturer Walther
Produced 1982-1988
Number built 176
  • 6.95 kg (15.3 lb) empty (no scope)
  • 7.35 kg (16.2 lb) loaded (no scope)
Length 905 mm (35.6 in)
Barrel length 650 mm (25.6 in)

  • 7.62x51mm NATO
  • .300 Winchester Magnum
  • 7.5x55mm Swiss
Action Gas-operated
Rate of fire Semi-automatic
Feed system 6-round detachable box magazine
Sights Schmidt & Bender 2.5–10X telescopic sight

Liquid Body Armor

15 Sep

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD — Liquid armor for Kevlar vests is one of the newest technologies being developed at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to save Soldiers’ lives.

This type of body armor is light and flexible, which allows soldiers to be more mobile and won’t hinder an individual from running or aiming his or her weapon.

The key component of liquid armor is a shear thickening fluid. STF is composed of hard particles suspended in a liquid. The liquid, polyethylene glycol, is non-toxic, and can withstand a wide range of temperatures. Hard, nano-particles of silica are the other components of STF. This combination of flowable and hard components results in a material with unusual properties.

“During normal handling, the STF is very deformable and flows like a liquid. However, once a bullet or frag hits the vest, it transitions to a rigid material, which prevents the projectile from penetrating the Soldier’s body,” said Dr. Eric Wetzel, a mechanical engineer from the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate who heads the project team.

To make liquid armor, STF is soaked into all layers of the Kevlar vest. The Kevlar fabric holds the STF in place, and also helps to stop the bullet. The saturated fabric can be soaked, draped, and sewn just like any other fabric.

Wetzel and his team have been working on this technology with Dr. Norman J. Wagner and his students from the University of Delaware for three years.

“The goal of the technology is to create a new material that is low cost and lightweight which offers equivalent or superior ballistic properties as compared to current Kevlar fabric, but has more flexibility and less thickness,” said Wetzel. “This technology has a lot of potential.”

Liquid armor is still undergoing laboratory tests, but Wetzel is enthusiastic about other applications that the technology might be applied to.

“The sky’s the limit,” said Wetzel. “We would first like to put this material in a soldier’s sleeves and pants, areas that aren’t protected by ballistic vests but need to remain flexible. We could also use this material for bomb blankets, to cover suspicious packages or unexploded ordnance. Liquid armor could even be applied to jump boots, so that they would stiffen during impact to support Soldiers’ ankles.”

In addition to saving Soldiers’ lives, Wetzel said liquid armor in Kevlar vests could help those who work in law enforcement.

“Prison guards and police officers could also benefit from this technology,” said Wetzel. “Liquid armor is much more stab resistant than conventional body armor. This capability is especially important for prison guards, who are most often attacked with handmade sharp weapons.”

For their work on liquid armor, Wetzel and his team were awarded the 2002 Paul A. Siple Award, the Army’s highest award for scientific achievement, at the Army Science Conference.

T-12 Cloudmaker Bomb

6 Sep

The T-12 a.k.a. Cloudmaker demolition bomb was produced by the United States designed to create an earthquake bomb effect. It achieved this by having an extremely thick nose section, which was designed to penetrate deeply into the earth. It was designed to attack targets invulnerable to conventional “soft” bombs, such as bunkers and viaducts.

The T-12 was a further development of the concept initiated with the United Kingdom‘s Tallboy and Grand Slam weapons: a hardened, highly aerodynamic bomb of the greatest possible weight designed to be dropped from the highest possible altitude in order to destroy hardened targets. The T-12 weighed 43,600 lb (nearly 20 metric tons), which was twice the size of the United States’ previous largest bomb, the American-built version of the British Grand Slam, the Bomb, GP, 22,000-lb, M110 (T-14). Only one plane, the Convair B-36 Peacemaker, was capable of carrying the T12, although a B-29 Superfortress was converted for testing. The T-12 was not a simple scale up of the M110, but incorporated modifications based on testing and calculations.

It is also important to clarify a further nickname imparted to this weapon, the Grand Slam bomb, which more correctly refers to the T-12’s 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) predecessor. “Grand Slam” was also the name of a project to modify B-36 bombers to carry nuclear bombs, creating further confusion.

Weapons of comparable size to the T-12, such as the BLU-82 and GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bombs, remain in the U.S. inventory of superbombs, but their utility is limited outside the realm of psychological weapons and demolition. They are not hardened and so lack the hard target destruction capability of the T-12 and its cousins. Precision-guided munitions (or “smart bombs”) have mostly removed the need for gigantic charges in air-dropped bombs.

C-5 Becomes A ‘Superstar’

6 Sep

MARIETTA, Ga., September 2nd, 2010 — Another Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] C-5 is being transformed into the world’s most capable strategic airlifter, the C-5M Super Galaxy. With more than 70 improvements, the Super Galaxy is rapidly becoming the linchpin of success in achieving global reach. The next C-5M Super Galaxy will be delivered on Sept. 30, 2010 and will be stationed at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The C-5M Super Galaxy recently achieved a 96 percent departure reliability rate while delivering critical cargo to troops in Afghanistan and was called upon to carry the 7.5-ton Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to be launched on the last space shuttle flight next year.

One of The World most Powerfull Non Nuclear Bombs

5 Sep

The American-made Mother of All Bombs is officially named GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance. This 9.17 meter-long weapon is a large-yield conventional bomb is regarded as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed at the time of its development. It has a diameter of 102.9 cm and weighs 10.3 tonnes. Its blast radius is 137.61 m and capable of destroying 9 city blocks. It was field-tested on March 11, 2003 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, USA. It is reported that a larger version of the MOAB exists, weighing 13 tons.

Lockheed Martin’s New Multi-Purpose HELLFIRE II Missile

5 Sep

Lockheed Martin’s [NYSE: LMT] multi-purpose AGM 114R HELLFIRE II missile struck and destroyed a stationary tank target in its third proof-of-principle flight test, a ground-launch test configured to simulate launch from an unmanned aerial system (UAS). The R model, or “Romeo” missile, features a multi-purpose warhead that enables a single HELLFIRE missile to cover all of the target sets of the currently fielded laser-guided variants.

A team consisting of personnel from Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army Joint Attack Munitions Systems program office located in Huntsville, AL, conducted the test at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. The missile, armed with a live warhead, was fired at a stationary M60 tank located 6.4 kilometers downrange. Immediately before launch, test equipment emulating an airborne UAS launch platform sent targeting data and warhead delay selection commands for an armored target to the missile.

The missile was launched in lock-on-after-launch mode with a high trajectory to simulate launch from a UAS. It used its inertial measurement unit and targeting data to fly to the approximate location of the target before beginning its search for the laser signal generated by the ground-based targeting laser. The missile acquired the laser spot and struck the target within inches of the laser aimpoint.

“One of the most noticeable operational enhancements in the AGM-114R missile is that the pilot can now select the type of lethality effects while on the move and without having to have a pre-set mission load prior to departure, ” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mike Brown, HELLFIRE Systems product manager. “This is a big deal in insurgency warfare, as witnessed in Afghanistan where the Taliban are fighting in the open and simultaneously planning their next attacks in amongst the local populace using fixed structure facilities to screen their presence. The AGM-114R is currently that ‘one missile’ that can service all targets.”

“The success of this flight test demonstrates that the HELLFIRE Romeo can defeat HELLFIRE’s toughest target; a heavily armored vehicle,” said Ken Musculus, director of Air-to-Ground Missile System programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “It can fly to an area before acquiring a target, which enables a high-altitude platform to strike targets behind it without additional maneuvering, and defeat a tank when it gets there. We’ve worked closely with our customer to develop a next-generation all-in-one HELLFIRE, and we’re pleased that we’re that much closer to getting it into the hands of the Warfighter.”

Lockheed Martin performs all work on behalf of the HELLFIRE Systems Limited Liability Company, and will produce the missiles at its manufacturing facilities in Troy, AL, and Ocala, FL.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 136,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s 2009 sales from continuing operations were $44.5 billion.

Lockheed AC-130

4 Sep

Lockheed AC-130

AC-130 Spectre / Spooky
AC-130H Spectre gunship deploys flares in 2007
Role Fixed-wing gunship
Manufacturer Lockheed and Boeing
First flight AC-130A: 1966
AC-130U: 1990
Introduction AC-130A: 1968
AC-130U: 1995
Status Active
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 43, including all variants (25, Active)
Unit cost AC-130H: US$132.4 million
AC-130U: US$190 million (2002)
Developed from C-130 Hercules

The Lockheed AC-130 gunship is a heavily-armed ground-attack aircraft. The basic airframe is manufactured by Lockheed, and Boeing is responsible for the conversion into a gunship and for aircraft support.[1] It is a variant of the C-130 Hercules transport plane. The AC-130A Gunship II superseded the AC-47 Gunship I in the Vietnam War.

The gunship’s sole user is the United States Air Force, which uses AC-130H Spectre and AC-130U Spooky variants.[2] The AC-130 is powered by four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops and is armed with 25 mm Gatling-type cannons, 40 mm cannons, and a 105 mm howitzer. It has a standard crew of twelve or thirteen airmen, including five officers (two pilots, a navigator, an electronic warfare officer and a fire control officer) and enlisted personnel (flight engineer, sensor operators, and aerial gunners).

The US Air Force uses the AC-130 gunships for close air support, air interdiction, air missions, bombing raid, and force protection. Close air support roles include supporting ground troops, escorting convoys, and flying urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against planned targets and targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include defending air bases and other facilities. Currently, AC-130U Spooky model gunships are stationed at Hurlburt Field in Northwest Florida and the AC-130H models are stationed at Cannon AFB, New Mexico. The gunship squadrons are part of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), a component of United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM).



[edit] Development

The C-130 Hercules was selected to replace the AC-47 Spooky Gunship I used during the Vietnam War, to improve gunship endurance capabilities and increase capacity to carry munitions.[3][4]

AC-130H Spectre near Hurlburt Field, Florida in 1988

In 1967, JC-130A USAF 54-1626 was selected for conversion into the prototype AC-130A gunship. The modifications were done that year at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, by the Aeronautical Systems Division. A direct view night vision telescope was installed in the forward door, an early forward looking infrared (FLIR) in the forward part of the left wheel well, and Gatling guns fixed facing down and aft along the left side. The analog fire control computer prototype was handcrafted by RAF Wing Commander Tom Pinkerton at the USAF Avionics Laboratory. Flight testing of the prototype was subsequently performed primarily at Eglin Air Force Base, followed by further testing and modifications. By September 1967, the aircraft was certified ready for combat testing and was flown to Nha Trang Air Base, South Vietnam for a 90 day test program.[3] The AC-130 was later supplemented by the AC-119 Shadow Gunship III, which later proved underpowered.

An AC-130U firing flares

Seven more aircraft were converted to the “Plain Jane” configuration like the AC-130 prototype in 1968,[5] and one aircraft received the “Surprise Package” equipment the next year.[6] Surprise Package included the latest 20 mm Gatling-style cannons and 40 mm Bofors cannon, but no 7.62 mm close support armament. Surprise Package served as a test bed for the avionic systems and armament for the AC-130E.

In 1970, an additional 10 AC-130As were acquired under the “Pave Pronto” project.[7] In the summer of 1971, Surprise Package equipped AC-130s were converted to the Pave Pronto configuration, and assumed its new nickname, Thor. Conversion of C-130Es into AC-130Es for the “PAVE Spectre” project followed.[8][9]

Regardless of their project names, the aircraft were more commonly referred to by the Squadron’s call sign: Spectre.

Wiki letter w.svg This section requires expansion with:
Fill in development history.

[edit] Recent and planned upgrades

In 2007, AFSOC initiated a program to upgrade the armament of existing AC-130s still in service. The test program planned for the 25 mm GAU-12/U and 40 mm Bofors cannon on the AC-130U gunships to be replaced with two 30 mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II cannons.[10] In 2007, the Air Force modified four AC-130U gunships as test platforms for the Bushmasters. These were referred to as AC-130U Plus 4 or AC-130U+4. However, AFSOC canceled its plans to install the new cannons on its fleet of AC-130Us. It has since removed the guns and re-installed the original 40 mm cannons and returned the planes to combat duties.[11] Brig. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, AFSOC’s director of plans, programs, requirements and assessments, said on 11 August 2008 that the effort was canceled due to problems with the Bushmaster’s accuracy in tests “at the altitude we were employing it”. There were also schedule considerations that drove the decision, he said.[12]

There are also plans to possibly replace the M102 howitzer with a breech-loading 120 mm mortar, and to give the AC-130 a standoff capability using either the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (based on the Hydra 70 rocket), or the Viper Strike glide bomb.[13]

The Air Force plans to launch an initiative in Fiscal 2011 to acquire 16 new gunships based on modified, new-build MC-130J special operations tankers that are outfitted with a “precision strike package” to give them an attack capability, according to newly released budget documents and defense officials. The Air Force is requesting $1.6 billion from Fiscal 2011 through 2015 for this recapitalization. These aircraft would increase the size of the Air Force’s highly taxed gunship fleet to 33 aircraft, a net increase of eight, after accounting for the planned retirement of eight aging AC-130Hs. The first aircraft would be bought in Fiscal 2012, followed by two in Fiscal 2013, five in Fiscal 2014, and the final eight in Fiscal 2015.[14] The decision to stick with the C-130s to fill the need came after funding to acquire 16 C-27Js had been stripped from the fiscal 2010 budget.[15] It is not yet known what the J-model conversion will be called when converted into a gunship platform.[16]

[edit] Design

These heavily-armed aircraft incorporate side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensors, navigation and fire control systems to provide precision firepower or area-saturation fire with its varied armament. The AC-130 can spend long periods flying over their target area at night and in adverse weather. The sensor suite consists of a television sensor, infrared sensor, and radar. These sensors allow the gunship to visually or electronically identify friendly ground forces and targets in most weather conditions.

The AC-130U is equipped with the AN/APQ-180, a synthetic aperture radar for long-range target detection and identification. The gunship’s navigational devices include inertial navigation systems and a Global Positioning System. The AC-130U employs technologies developed in the 1990s and can attack two targets simultaneously. It also has twice the munitions capacity of the AC-130H.[1] Although the AC-130U conducts some operations in daylight, majority of its combat missions are conducted at night.[17]

AC-130U sensor suite

During the Vietnam era, the various AC-130 versions following the Pave Pronto modifications were equipped with a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) system called the Black Crow (AN/ASD-5), a highly sensitive passive device with a phased-array antenna located in the left-front nose radome that could pick up localized deviations in earth’s magnetic field and is normally used to detect submerged submarines. The Black Crow system on the AC-130A/E/H could accurately detect the unshielded ignition coils of North Vietnamese trucks that were hidden under the dense foliage of the jungle canopy along the Ho Chi Minh trail. It could also detect the signal from a hand-held transmitter that was used by air controllers on the ground to identify and locate specific target types. The system was slaved into the targeting computer.

[edit] PGM-38/U 25 mm ammunition for AC-130U

AC-130U Spooky

The PGM-38/U Enhanced 25 mm High Explosive Incendiary (HEI) round was created to expand the AC-130U gunships’ mission in standoff range and survivability for its 25 mm GAU-12/U gun system. This round is a combination of the existing PGU-25 HEI and a M758 fuse designated as FMU-151/B to meet the MIL-STD-1316. The FMU-151 has an improved arming delay with multi-sensitive range.[18]

[edit] Operational history

The AC-130 Gunship first arrived in South Vietnam on 21 September 1967 under the Gunship II program, and began combat operations over Laos and South Vietnam that year. By 30 October 1968, enough AC-130 Gunship IIs arrived to form a squadron, the 16th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW), at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. By December 1968 most AC-130s were flown under F-4 Phantom II escort from the 479th Tactical Fighter Squadron, normally three Phantoms per Gunship. In late 1969, under the code name of “Surprise Package”, 56-0490 arrived with solid state laser illuminated low light level TV with a companion YAG laser designator, an improved forward looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, video recording for TV and FLIR, an inertial navigation system, and a prototype digital fire control computer. Surprise Package was refitted with upgraded similar equipment in the summer of 1970, and then redeployed to Ubon RTAFB. During Vietnam, AC-130s destroyed more than 10,000 trucks and participated in many crucial close air support missions. Six Spectres were lost to enemy fire.[19]

AC-130A performs a left-hand pylon turn

In the late 1970s when the AC-130H fleet was first being modified for in-flight refueling capability, a demonstration mission was planned and flown from Hurlburt Field, Florida, non-stop, to conduct a 2-hour live-fire mission over Empire Firing Range in the Republic of Panama, then return home. This 13-hour mission with two in-flight refuelings from KC-135 tankers proved the validity of flying long-range missions outside the CONUS to attack targets, then return to home base without intermediate stops.

In July 1979, AC-130H crews deployed to Howard AB, Panama Canal Zone, as a precaution against possible hostile actions against American personnel during the time the Sandinistas seized control of Nicaragua from Somoza. New time aloft and non-stop distance records were subsequently set by a 16th SOS 2-ship AC-130H formation flight that departed Hurlburt Field on 13 November 1979, and landed safely on 15 November at Andersen AB, Guam, a distance of >7,200 nautical miles and 29 hours and 43 minutes non-stop duration, with four inflight refuelings (this flight was documented in Lockheed records and in an article by pilot Lt Col Jim Lawrence in the June 1995 edition of AFSOC Night Flyer magazine).

Refueling support for the Guam deployment was provided by KC-135 crews from the 305th Air Refueling Wing from Grissom AFB, Indiana. At Guam, AC-130H crews through trial and error developed communications-out/lights-out refueling procedures for later employment. This deployment with the 1 SOW/CC as Task Force commander was directed from the office of the CJCS due to fear that Iranian militants could begin executing American Embassy personnel who had been taken hostage on 4 November. One early option considered AC-130H retaliatory punitive strikes deep within Iran. Later gunship flights exceeded the 1979 Hurlburt to Guam flight.

During Operation Urgent Fury (Invasion of Grenada) in 1983, AC-130s suppressed enemy air defense systems and attacked ground forces enabling the successful assault of the Point Salines Airfield via airdrop and air land of friendly forces. The AC-130 aircrew earned the Lieutenant General William H. Tunner Award for the mission. AC-130s also had a primary role during the invasion of Panama in 1989 (Operation Just Cause) when they destroyed Panama Defense Force headquarters and numerous command and control facilities. Aircrews earned the Mackay Trophy for the most meritorious flight of the year and the Tunner Award for their efforts.

The AC-130 gunship has been nicknamed “The Angel of Death” due to the shape that the anti-missile flares take.[citation needed]

Smoke visible from Gatling gun during twilight operations in 1988

During Gulf War of 1990-91 (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), AC-130s provided close air support and force protection (air base defense) for ground forces, and battlefield interdiction. The primary interdiction targets were early warning/ground control intercept (EW/GCI) sites along the southern border of Iraq. The first gunship to enter the Battle of Khafji helped stop a southbound Iraqi armored column on 29 January 1991. One day later, three more gunships provided further aid to Marines participating in the operation. The gunships attacked Iraqi positions and columns moving south to reinforce their positions north of the city.

Despite the threat of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and increasing visibility during the early morning hours of 31 January 1991, one AC-130H, AF Serial No. 69-6567, call sign Spirit 03, opted to stay to continue to protect the Marines. A SAM subsequently shot down Spirit 03, and all fourteen crew members perished.[20]

The military has used AC-130 gunships during the humanitarian operations in Somalia (Operation Restore Hope and Operation United Shield) in 1992/1993, in the NATO mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in Operation Silver Wake in 1997, the evacuation of American non-combatants in Albania.

Weapons fire during a night mission

The AC-130U model gunship set a new record for the longest sustained flight by any C-130 with a mission from the 22nd through the 24th of October 1997, when two AC-130U gunships flew 36.0 hours nonstop from Hurlburt Field, Florida to Taegu Air Base (Daegu), South Korea while being refueled seven times in the air by KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. This record flight shattered the previous record C-130 longest flight by over 6 hours, while the two U-model gunships took on 410,000 lb (186,000 kg) of fuel. Gunships also were part of the buildup of U.S. forces in 1998 to convince Iraq to comply with UN weapons inspections.

The United States later used gunships during Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan 2001– ), and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq (2003– ). In 2007 US Special Operations forces used the AC-130 in attacks on suspected al-Qaeda militants in Somalia.[21][22] The AC-130 has the distinction of never having a base under its protection lost to the enemy.[citation needed]

[edit] Deployments

AC-130s from both the 4th and 16th Special Operations Squadrons have been deployed in virtually every conflict the U.S. has been involved in, officially and unofficially, since the end of the Vietnam War. These include deployments supporting the following conflicts or contingencies:

[edit] Current aircraft

The AC-130H has a unit cost of US$132.4 million, and the AC-130U a unit cost of US$190 million (fiscal 2001 constant dollars). Currently there are eight AC-130H and seventeen AC-130U aircraft in active duty service.[2]

[edit] Operators

AC-130U over Hurlburt Field

 United States

[edit] Aircraft on display

Nose art on AC-130A AF Serial No. 53-3129 at the USAF Armament Museum, Eglin AFB, Florida

One of the first seven AC-130A aircraft deployed to Vietnam was AF Serial No. 53-3129, named First Lady in November 1970. In addition to being the first AC-130, this aircraft was a conversion of the first production C-130. On 25 March 1971, it took an anti-aircraft artillery hit in the nose over the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. The 37 mm shell destroyed everything below the crew deck. In 1975, after the conclusion of US involvement in the Vietnam war, it was transferred to the Air Force Reserve, where it served with the 711th Special Operations Squadron of the 919th Special Operations Wing. In 1980 the aircraft was upgraded from the original three-bladed propellers to the quieter four-bladed propellers and was eventually retired in late 1995. The retirement also marked an end to the Air Force Reserve Command flying the AC-130A. The aircraft now sits on display in the final Air Force Reserve Command configuration with grey paint, black markings, the four-bladed Hamilton Sunstrand 54H60-91 props at the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, USA.[23][24]

A second AC-130A, AF Serial No. 56-0509, named the Ultimate End, was accepted by the Air Force on 28 February 1957, and modified to the AC-130A configuration on 27 July 1970. The aircraft participated in the Vietnam War and the rescue of the SS Mayaguez. Ultimate End demonstrated the durability of the C-130 after surviving hits in five places by 37 mm anti-aircraft artillery on 12 December 1970, extensive left wing leading edge damage on 12 April 1971 and a 57 mm round damaging the belly and injuring one crewman on 4 March 1972. “Ultimate End” was reassigned to the Air Force Reserve’s 919th Special Operations Wing at Eglin AFB Auxiliary Field #3 / Duke Field on 17 June 1975, where it continued in service until retired in the fall 1994 and transferred to Air Force Special Operations Command‘s Heritage Air Park at Hurlburt Field, FL. While assigned to the 711th Special Operations Squadron, Ultimate End served in Operations JUST CAUSE in Panama, DESERT STORM in Kuwait and Iraq, and UPHOLD DEMOCRACY in Haiti. After 36 years and seven months of service, 24 years as a gunship, Ultimate End retired from active service on 1 October 1994. It made its last flight from Duke Field to Hurlburt Field on 20 October 1994. The Spectre Association dedicated “Ultimate End” (which served with the 16 SOS in Vietnam) on 4 May 1995. Lt Col Michael Byers, then 16 SOS commander, represented the active-duty gunship force and Clyde Gowdy of the Spectre Association represented all Spectre personnel past and present for the unveiling of a monument at the aircraft and the dedication as a whole.[25]

A third AC-130A, AF Serial No. 54-1630, is on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Named Azrael (Azrael, in the Koran, is the angel of death who severs the soul from the body), this aircraft figured prominently in the closing hours of Operation Desert Storm. On 26 February 1991, Coalition ground forces were driving the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait. With an Air Force Reserve crew called to active duty, Azrael was sent to the Al Jahra highway (Highway 80) between Kuwait City and Basra, Iraq, to intercept the convoys of tanks, trucks, buses, and cars fleeing the battle. Facing SA-6 and SA-8 surface-to-air missiles and 37 mm and 57 mm radar-guided anti-aircraft artillery the crew attacked and destroyed or disabled most of the convoys. Azrael was also assigned to the 919th Special Operations Wing and retired to the museum in October 1995.[26]

Another AC-130A, AF Serial No. 54-1626, the original prototype AC-130 named “Gunship II” is on display at the outdoor Air Park at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.[27]

AC-130A USAF 54-1623, c/n 3010, named “Ghost Rider” served in Southeast Asia and later until being retired in 1997 to Dobbins AFB, Georgia. To eventually go to the Lockheed museum at Marietta, Georgia. AC-130A USAF 54-1626, c/n 3013 severed in Southeast Asia during 1967-1972, then to JC-130A test configuration. Transferred to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio in 1976. Converted back to AC-130A configuration in late 1990s.

[edit] Specifications

AC-130U Spooky

General characteristics

  • Crew: 13
    • Officers: 5 (pilot, copilot, navigator, fire control officer, electronic warfare officer)
    • Enlisted: 8 (flight engineer, TV operator, infrared detection set operator, loadmaster, four aerial gunners)
  • Length: 97 ft 10 in (29.8 m)
  • Wingspan: 132 ft 7 in (40.4 m)
  • Height: 38 ft 6 in (11.7 m)
  • Wing area: 1745.5 ft² (162.2 m²)
  • Loaded weight: 122,400 lb (55,520 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 155,000 lb (69,750 kg)
  • Powerplant:Allison T56-A-15 turboprops, 4,910 shp (3,700 kW) each


[edit] Armament

Gunners loading 40 mm cannon (background) and 105 mm howitzer (foreground)

AC-130H Spectre over Santa Rosa Island, Northwest Florida coast.

AC-130A Project Gunship II
AC-130A Surprise Package, Pave Pronto, AC-130E Pave Spectre
  • 2× 7.62 mm GAU-2/A miniguns
  • 2× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon
  • 2× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon
AC-130E Pave Aegis
  • 2× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon
  • 1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon
  • 1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer
AC-130H Spectre[28]

(Prior to circa 2000)

  • 2× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon
  • 1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon
  • 1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer

(Current Armament)

  • 1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon
  • 1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer
AC-130U Spooky II

[edit] Notable appearances in media

The AC-130 has been featured in the 2007 live-action film Transformers.[29] During a battle in the desert, involving a squad of Army Rangers and the DecepticonScorponok“, an AC-130 is deployed to provide air support. At one moment in the engagement, Sergeant Robert Epps orders the use of “105 shells” (referencing the M102 howitzer) to “bring the rain”, which results in the retreat of Scorponok


4 Sep

The LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is an element of the nation’s strategic deterrent forces. The “L” in LGM ; is the Department of Defense designation for silo-launched; “G” means surface attack; and “M” stands for guided missile.

General Features
The Minuteman is a strategic weapon system using a ballistic missile of intercontinental range. Missiles are dispersed in hardened silos to protect against attack and connected to an underground launch control center through a system of hardened cables. Launch crews, consisting of two officers, perform around-the-clock alert in the launch control center.

A variety of communication systems provide the president and secretary of defense with highly reliable, virtually instantaneous direct contact with each launch crew. Should command capability be lost between the launch control center and remote missile launch facilities, specially configured E-6B airborne launch control center aircraft automatically assume command and control of the isolated missile or missiles. Fully qualified airborne missile combat crews aboard airborne launch control center aircraft would execute the president’s orders.

An extensive life extension program is under way to keep the missiles safe, secure and reliable well into the 21st century. These major programs include: replacement of the aging guidance system, remanufacture of the solid-propellant rocket motors, replacement of standby power systems, repair of launch facilities, and installation of updated, survivable communications equipment, and new command and control consoles to enhance immediate communications.

History of Minuteman ICBM
The Minuteman weapon system was conceived in the late 1950s and Minuteman I was deployed in the early 1960s. Minuteman was a revolutionary concept and an extraordinary technical achievement. Both the missile and basing components incorporated significant advances beyond the relatively slow-reacting, liquid-fueled, remotely-controlled intercontinental ballistic missiles of the previous generation. From the beginning, Minuteman missiles have provided a quick-reacting, inertially guided, highly survivable component to America’s nuclear Triad. Minuteman’s maintenance concept capitalizes on high reliability and a “remove and replace” approach to achieve a near 100 percent alert rate.

Through state-of-the-art improvements, the Minuteman system has evolved to meet new challenges and assume new missions. Modernization programs have resulted in new versions of the missile, expanded targeting options, improved accuracy and survivability. Today’s Minuteman weapon system is the product of almost 40 years of continuous enhancement.

The current Minuteman force consists of 500 Minuteman III’s located at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Malmstrom AFB, Mont., and Minot AFB, N.D. The last round of base realignment and closing decisions has forced a realignment of Minuteman missiles from Grand Forks AFB, N.D., to Malmstrom AFB. The possible implementation of Start II, means that Minuteman III will become the only land-based ICBM in the Triad. An extensive life extension program is underway to keep the remaining missiles safe, secure and reliable well into the 21st Century. These major programs include: replacement of the aging guidance system, remanufacture of the solid-propellant rocket motors, replacement of standby power systems, repair of launch facilities, and installation of updated, survivable communications equipment and new command and control consoles to enhance immediate communications.
LGM-30 MINUTEMAN III Tecnical Specifications

FeatureSpecificationFunction Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)Contractor Boeing CompanyPower Plant Three solid-propellant rocket motors; first stage – Thiokol; second stage – Aerojet-General; third stage – United Technologies Chemical Systems DivisionThrust First stage, 202,600 pounds (91,170 kilograms)Length 59.9 feet (18 meters)Weight 79,432 pounds (32,158 kilograms)Diameter 5.5 feet (1.67 meters)Range 6,000-plus miles (5,218 nautical miles)Speed Approximately 15,000 mph (Mach 23 or 24,000 kph) at burnoutCeiling 700 miles (1,120 kilometers)Deployed June 1970, production cessation: December 1978Inventory


4 Sep


The RQ-11B Raven small unmanned aircraft system provides real-time direct situational awareness and target information for Air Force Special Operations Command Battlefield Airmen and Air Force security forces. The Raven falls into the class of Air Force small UAS known as man-portable UAS.

The Raven back-packable system which features two air vehicles or AVs, a ground control unit, remote video terminal, transit cases and support equipment. Two specially trained Airmen operate the Raven AV. The AV can be controlled manually or can autonomously navigate a preplanned route.

The Raven includes a color electro-optical camera and an infrared camera for night operations. The air vehicle is hand-launched, weighs less than 5 pounds and an endurance of up to 80 minutes.

The Raven UAS has proven itself in combat supporting U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other areas of conflict. The Raven is now used by all of the military services. The Air Force purchased the Raven UAS to replace the Desert Hawk UAS.
UAV RQ-11B Raven Technical Specifications
General Characteristics 
Primary Function: Reconnaissance and surveillance with low altitude operation
Contractor: Aerovironment, Inc. 
Power Plant:  Electric Motor, rechargeable lithium ion batteries 
Wingspan: 4.5 feet (1.37 meters)
Weight: 4.2 lbs (1.9 kilograms)
Weight (ground control unit): 17 lbs (7.7 kilograms) 
Speed:  30-60 mph (26-52 knots)
Range:  8-12 km (4.9-7.45 miles) 
Endurance: 60-90 minutes
Altitude (operations):  100-500 feet air ground level ( to 152 meters) 
System Cost:  approximately $173,000 (2004 dollars) 
Payload:  High resolution, day/night camera and thermal imager 
Date deployed:  2004
Inventory:  Classified

UK Orders Additional Desert Hawk III Unmanned Aircraft Systems

4 Sep

DENVER: The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence awarded Lockheed Martin a $5.1 million contract for additional Desert Hawk III unmanned aircraft vehicles.

Desert Hawk III’s improved payloads maximize target detection and recognition by providing 360-degree — daytime and nighttime — coverage in a common turret package. These latest generation payloads also include a Lockheed Martin-developed navigation system that delivers more refined target position information and superior image stability to the troops.

Awarded by the MoD’s Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) organization, the latest contract calls for Lockheed Martin to deliver the Desert Hawk III air vehicles — which as a result of ongoing obsolescence management and technology advancements in this area feature enhanced 360-degree infrared and 360-degree, 10-times zoom electro optics — by Fall 2010.

“We are extremely pleased with the enhanced capability that these new payloads bring to Desert Hawk III and the British Army,” said Duncan Robbins, program manager for mini-UAV systems, UK MOD DE&S. “Desert Hawk’s latest enhancements allow it to operate more effectively in difficult conditions and provide our soldiers with greater situational awareness in a very timely manner.”

“The battle-proven Desert Hawk III can operate in high winds, extended altitude and extreme temperatures, making it very effective in areas such as Afghanistan,” said Mark Swymeler, a vice president for Lockheed Martin’s Ship and Aviation Systems line of business. “Unlike some other UAVs, it is extremely quiet and virtually undetectable beyond 150 meters.”

Equipped with steerable, plug-and-play imaging payloads, the Desert Hawk has provided the British Army with greater situational awareness capabilities in Afghanistan since 2006.

The eight-pound Desert Hawk III features an open architecture environment and consists of a light weight, hand-launched, ruggedized air vehicle with snap-on Plug and Playloads, a portable ground station and a remote video terminal. The snap-on payload capability allows a single operator to swap sensors on the air vehicle in less than one minute to meet immediate and rapidly changing mission requirements.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 136,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s 2009 sales from continuing operations were $44.5 billion.