September 24, 2015 (by Amn Kai White) - The first AC-130U Spooky gunship to retire from the active fleet flew from its home following a small ceremony September 21st.
USAF AC-130U #90-0163 'Bad Omen' takes off for its retirement flight at Hurlburt Field on September 21, 2015. “Bad Omen” is the first "U" model to retire with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB. [USAF photo by Amn Kai White]
The gunship, named "Bad Omen," was delivered to Hurlburt Field Feb. 17, 1995. Following the ceremony, "Bad Omen" flew to it's retirement home with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Base, Ariz.
"'Bad Omen' flew more than 2,300 sorties with approximately 5,600 landings and accumulated more than 10,000 hours," said Karl Cirulis, 4th Special Operations Squadron pilot. "'Bad Omen' was last deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, in December 2013 where it accumulated approximately 600 combat hours and flew more than 100 sorties."
Tail number 0163 had one of its most successful sorties over Afghanistan July 21, 2011. The aircraft arrived on station to support a task force when the task force started taking fire from all sides.
"The gunship began to take direct action and -- true to 'U' model form, the crew performed eight separate engagements using infrared and TV dual-target attacks," said Cirulis. "It fired 146 40mm cannon rounds and 41 105mm rounds to end the engagement."
The AC-130U fleet will remain engaged in worldwide operations until the modernized AC-130J arrives, which is projected to achieve initial operating capability in 2018
Air Force Special Operations Command's roadmap is to replace existing variants of the AC-130 with 37 AC-130J Ghostriders in a single configuration with an advanced suite of sensors and precision weapons.Specifically, the AC-130J will have a precision strike package, which includes a mission management console, robust communications suite, two electro-optical/infrared sensors, advanced fire control equipment, precision guided munitions delivery capability as well as trainable 30mm and 105mm weapons.