Spooky Even in Daylight

AC-130 gunships recently began daylight missions for the first time, providing fire support to coalition ground forces in Afghanistan thanks to a new high-definition sensor suite, said Air Force Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel. “We have not flown gunships during the day before, but they are currently flying during the day” there, said Fiel during the four-star forum at AFA’s Air & Space Conference outside of Washington, D.C., on Sept. 19. The sensors “allow us a longer standoff range, which caused a little problem since the weapons can’t engage targets at that range,” he said, noting that AFSOC is working to fix that. AFSOC has also integrated small diameter bombs onto AC-130W gunships, providing standoff precision attack capability. Stinger gunships in Afghanistan currently carry eight SDBs—four under each wing—as well as “internal precision-guided munitions,” detailed Fiel. Next month, AFSOC plans to test Hellfire air-to-ground missiles on the AC-130, he said.