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Home > Fact Sheets > Lockheed AC-130E “Pave Spectre”


Posted 1/8/2009 Printable Fact Sheet

Project "Pave Spectre" was the USAF program to acquire and modify C-130Es to gunship configuration. The initial plan called for converting eight aircraft, two prototypes (S/N 69-6567 and 69-6568) and six operational planes (69-6569 to 69-6574) for delivery no later than Jan. 1, 1972, since the gunships were needed for Commando Hunt VII -- interdiction of enemy trucks and sampans moving through the panhandle of Laos (Steel Tiger area). Six additional aircraft were reserved for Pave Spectre conversion; however, only three were modified (S/N 69-6575 to 69-6577).

The AC-130E was an improved version of the AC-130A "Pave Pronto" aircraft. The C-130E was equipped with more powerful versions of the Allison T-56 turboprop engines. The aircraft also had a maximum gross takeoff weight more than 30,000 pounds more than the AC-130A. Consequently, the AC-130E had more armor plating and could carry additional ammunition and equipment.

The AC-130E had an improved digital fire control system based on the LTV A-7 Corsair II system. In using an existing FCS, the program managers expected to take advantage of the training, maintenance, supply and logistics already in place to minimize the chances of a deployment delay for the operational aircraft. The FCS also featured a head up display gunsight for the pilot and a moving map display for the navigator. The AC-130E retained the low light level television, forward looking infrared, Black Crow ignition sensor, moving target indicator and beacon tracking system successfully used on the Pave Pronto AC-130A.

Type Number built/
AC-130A 1 (cv) Prototype AC-130 gunship
AC-130A 7 (cv) "Plain Jane" initial conversion
AC-130A 1 (cv) "Surprise Package" test aircraft
AC-130A 10 (cv) "Pave Pronto" version
AC-130E 11 (cv) C-130E conversions

Armament: Two 20mm M61A1 "Vulcan" cannons firing at 2,500 rpm (3,000 rounds typically carried onboard) and two 40mm M1 "Bofors" cannons with a selectable firing rate of single shot or 120 rpm (352 rounds typically carried onboard)
Engines: Four Allison T-56-A-15 turboprops of 4,910 hp
Attack speed: 145+ knots
Cruising speed: 180+ knots
Duration: 3-5 hours for a typical combat mission (6 hours maximum with 30 minutes reserve fuel); most missions were about 5 hours in duration
Attack altitude: Between 5,500 and 10,500 ft. above ground level depending on the threat environment
Span: 132 ft. 7 in.
Length: 97 ft. 10 in.
38 ft. 6 in.
155,000 lbs. maximum
Crew: 14 (pilot, copilot, navigator, fire control officer, low light level television operator, forward looking infrared operator, illuminator operator, electronic warfare officer, flight engineer, loadmaster, master armorer, and four gunners/armorers)
Serial numbers: (Prototype) 54-1626; (Initial conversions [from JC-130A]): 53-3129, 54-1623, 54-1625, 54-1627 to 54-1630; ("Surprise Package") 56-0490; ("Pave Pronto") 55-11, 55-14, 55-29, 55-40, 55-43, 55-44, 55-46, 56-469, 56-471, 56-509; ("Pave Spectre" [from C-130E]) 69-6567 to 69-6577

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