More Gunships

We’ve covered briefly before the history of gunships as a close air support platform. The Marines have never used the C-130 as a gunship, mostly for reasons of cost. The current cost of an Air Force AC-130U is somewhere around $140 million, making it one of the most expensive planes in the inventory.

But the Marines would really like to have access to some form of very persistent overhead gunship platform, if only for the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconissance (ISR) capability it provides.

There’s news out that the Marines are looking at a “bolt-on” gunship capability for their KC-130J SuperHerks. Under a program called “Harvest Hawk,” this would entail replacing one of the drop tanks with a sensor package, the other with launch rails for Hellfire missiles, and bolting a 30mm gun package to one of the troop doors.

It may not be a perfect solution, but the Marines think it would be better than none.

4 thoughts on “More Gunships”

  1. Aren’t the door gunners the least accurate position? I guess if they are orbiting it would be better. Is it stabilized or radar controlled? Or is it manually controlled? Wouldn’t it be cool to be manually firing a 30mm from a mount?

  2. The article was a little fuzzy, but I’d expect some sort of fixed/stabilized mount, fired from a pylon turn, just like an AC-130. The question right now is, which 30mm? There’s the Mk44 guns, that fire a high velocity 30mm, or there is the low velocity M230 series, currently mounted on the Apache.

    The AFSOC tried mounting a high velocity on its AC-130Us, but had poor accuracy and pulled them. But the range on the M230 is pretty poor.

    We’ll see. The Marines may well accept a lower level of accuracy.

  3. Was it the USMC that removed the bombardier and navigator(?) from the B25 to make the PBJ- replaced ’em with a 75mm and stack and half of .50cals?

    Way ahead of their time environmentally speaking- returning the IJN and their merchant colleagues to raw materials without the complex bombsights fashionable in European theatres.

    Isn’t there a bolt on 30MM for the SOC AF version of the V22?

  4. Nah, the AAF came up with the gun-nose B-25s pretty much on their own. The Army, and Army Air Force don’t get a lot of credit for their operations in the Pacific, but they were there, and in larger numbers than the Marines ever achieved.

    I’ve seen 7.62mm and .50cal kits for the Osprey’s, but nothing larger.

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