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October 01, 2007

Gunships and precision artillery

There is need for more responsive and effective close air support for US troops in Iraq.


C-27J transport plane

War is boring discusses converting $25-30 million C27 transport planes into slightly scaled down versions of the AC-130 gunship.

AC-130 gunship

There has been a proposal to use AC-130's in a roving mode over Iraq. This would enable the AC-130's to be 20 minutes from any situation that they need to be called by ground troops.

Killing insurgents with M-16s and F-16s is tough, dangerous, complicated, expensive, etc. Killing insurgents with an ammo-laden transport aircraft that can loiter in the Sunni triangle for 10+ hours every night shooting bullets that cost pennies compared to other means of killing insurgents and now we've got a chance of winning the war without bankrupting our country.

I will also say that the Arab culture respects strength. If the gunships were unleashed, the only defense would be to stop attacking U.S. forces. Again, you'd get away with some attacks but it would only be a matter of time before a gunship or another air asset caught you or a US soldier called quick enough to get the gunship in place. How many hours long battles have you read about in the paper. Why? Other air assets respond but only the gunship has the situational awareness and the ability to shoot a single 40-mm round at a time to efficiently kill insurgents and not cause collateral damage. The gunship is the only air asset I know that shows up on scene and quicly has more situational awareness than the ground forces. Too many times I've told ground forces that personnel were sneaking up on them and that we were 10 seconds away from a round on target the second they gave the command. No other asset compares (in a low-threat environment like Iraq). There are CAS aircraft and then there is the AC-130. How many times have you read about other air assets making low passes and dispensing flares to scare away the enemy after they've attacked our forces. Why are we asking our pilots to fly hundreds of feet from the ground to dispense flares? Our pilots' bravery is unquestioned but there has to be a better way. When you have enemy forces attacking your forces, they need to be killed not scared away. I'll say it again, the Arab respects strength.


Another weapon is the Army's Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), which provides close fire support.

U.S. Army commanders and troops have come to view the Army's Guided
Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) as their "70-kilometer sniper
rifle.


Its shots covers 70 kilometers within 82 seconds. It is an army rocket launcher. It hits within 5 meters of the target. Tests back in 1999 got within 2.1 meters of target. Getting closer means smaller explosives are needed. This allows for close
combat support. ie. you are in an urban fire fight you can call in close support artillery to take out the guys a few rooms over if you can pin them down for a minute but cannot take them out. Or take out the guys across the street.

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