Toward an Even Nastier Gunship

Just when you thought the AC-130U couldn’t get any nastier, here comes somebody ready to install a standoff weapon. The Air Force wants to give the gunship a so-called “Viper Strike” precision munition to go along with its 25 mm gun. The project is underway as an advanced concept technology demonstration. The Viper is a small weapon with glide fins and a high explosive tank-killing warhead, ideal for destroying mobile targets at standoff range. The capability will enhance the close air support capability of the gunship, which has been used widely—with grisly success—in Afghanistan and Iraq. Northrop Grumman is carrying out the work at its Huntsville, Ala. Facility. Look for a demonstration by end of 2006.