The last armed AC-130U “Spooky” gunship, tail number 513, retired to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Aug. 19, 2019.
This aircraft was the last AC-130U with its guns still installed and one of the very last to retire altogether.
The AC-130 has a rich history that includes support of military operations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq as well as performing in many combat missions since it was fielded in the late 1960’s. The primary function of this aircraft was close air support, air interdiction and armed reconnaissance.
“This aircraft has provided tons of close air support,” said Brig. Gen. Brenda Cartier, Director of Operations for Air Force Special Operations Command. “There’s no telling how many lives of friendly ground forces it has saved over its time in service.”
Brig. Gen. Cartier flew the AC-130U to its final resting spot at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base from Hurlburt Field, Fla.
“It’s very bittersweet,” Cartier said. “I came onboard with the ‘Spooky’ gunships in 1997 so I’ve been with them most of my career.”
The AC-130U Spooky II and its crews have been deployed constantly for nearly two decades. The AC-130U will now be replaced by the AC-130J “Ghostrider.” AFSOC is slated to have completely converted to the fourth-series gunships in 2021.
“The Air Force is moving to the next variant of the AC-130, the J-model, which is a very capable aircraft with new technology and a lot more weaponry,” Cartier said.
America is building a more lethal and ready Air Force through development of our warfighting capabilities.