In Unique Aircraft Wearing Out :

Fourteen C-130s are being transferred from transportation units for conversion to ten MC-130 all-weather transports, and four AC-130U gunships. Both of these aircraft are equipped to operate at night and in any weather, as well as at very low altitudes. AFSOC has 37 MC-130s that are wearing out, so more new, or rebuilt, C-130s will be arriving in the next three years. AFSOC is also experimenting with a two engine gunship (based on the C-27J), the AC-27J.

On a related note, I don’t think I ever noted the fact that the Air Force reversed course on the plan to replace the 40mm Bofors cannon and the 25mm gatling gun with 30mm Bushmaster cannons on the AC-130Us.

AFSOC leadership noted problems with the 30 mm’s accuracy as the reason for AFSOC putting the plan on the shelf. The installment of the (2) Bushmaster 30 mm cannons on each gunship in the AC-130U fleet would have replaced the 25 mm Gatling guns and 40 mm Bofors cannons. The plan was visioned as providing a way for the CAS aircraft to act more as a airborne sniper with what AFSOC officials call a “two shot”, where the gun can be automatically corrected for accuracy after it fires off its first shot on a target. Unfortunately, the test program never produced sufficient results to keep it alive any longer.

That L/60 Bofors gun just keeps on ticking.


  1. This is great news for AFSOC! Thank GOD for Goldwater-Nichols act!
    The extra MC-130s (if they do not make them MC-130Ws and make them MC-130H TIIs) and AC-130Us will be much welcomed. My old AC-130Hs are old and tired but as of yet, there is still not real planes to replace them yet. The MC-27Js will be interesting and I wish that program well. It will be interesting to see what armament they decide on for her.

    It is not surprising that they did not continue on with the 30MM, she looked great on paper but did not work all that well in the air and was even worse to maintain then the 25MM is (I have loads of stories about how bad the 25MM is)

    There is still tests and guesses being thrown out that the 105MM will soon be replaced with a 120MM mortar/canon..but that was being played with well before the 30MM was ever talked about.

    How about the GBU-44/b Viper Strike? 😉 Well, keep looking for her.

  2. Whatchu talkin ’bout HercEng? The Mk44 30mm cannon has nowhere near the maintenance requirements of a GAU-12 (Mk44 is a scaled-up Bushmaster, not a Gatling, and the Bushmasters are absolutely bulletproof with a properly sorted ammo feed system). The real draw for AFSOC for the Mk44, though, was free 30mm ammo from the Air Force — PGU 13/14/15 are in relatively plentiful supply, and cheap. But the accuracy requirement was far too aggressive, so frankly it’s no surprise they are switching back.

    Now the challege is gun parts and ammo. Last time we did 40mm experimentation, we had to send to the Ordnance museum at APG to get a gun! (The Air Force does maintain a number of spares at Eglin, luckily). No US company makes full-caliber 40mm, and the existing stockpile of WWII-vintage, ’90s remanufactured ammo is running out. Luckily, I happen to know there are some pretty smart people working the problem …

    A smart move might be to up-gun from L60 to L70, as those cannon and the ammunition are much easier to come by, but I have no idea if the aircraft can handle the alternate configuration. It’s be interesting to see where AC-27 goes for armament.

  3. Forget the guns on the “130.

    Just restart the BLU-82/C-130 delivery system.

    Heck you can always miss with 20, 25, 40mm pea-shooters but you can’t go wrong with Big Blu!

  4. Hawk…I was not talking about the mx of the gun… I was talking about the mount. This paired with the less than enthusiastic results from the accuracy of the 30mm while mounted in the AC-130U.

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