AC-130 Gunship

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I don't know much about the route by which the following video got to me (and got to a lot of other people with an interest in the military, I'm sure). It's thermal imaging made at the 40-mm gun station of an AC-130 Spectre gunship over Afghanistan. In the course of the video, the 40-mm and the 105-mm guns engage various hostiles on the ground some ten thousand feet below.

Those of you who know how gunships work can pass over the next several paragraphs. Spectres and their predecessors, the AC-47 Spookies, are cargo aircraft with a number of guns firing out the left side of the fuselage. The Spooky I watched work one night in War Zone C had three 7.62-mm Miniguns; Spectres, much larger aircraft, are normally equipped with 20-mm Vulcans, a Bofors 40-mm (effectively the same gun you see in tubs of four on footage of WW II warships), and a 105-mm howitzer.

To use its weapons, the gunship flies in a slow circle. The guns have a certain degree of flexibility, but the pilot does much of the aiming by keeping the left wing aligned with the target.

The two heavier weapons shoot far enough that the gunship can stay above the effective range of man-portable air-defense missiles, so they'll often be the only guns in use in a hostile environment. That's what's happening here. (Given the number of Stingers CIA gave to the Taliban and their predecessors, Afghanistan has the potential for being very hostile.)

The video that follows had an odd resonance for me because I'm a Kipling fan. Kipling's Barrack-Room Ballads largely involve campaigning on the Northwest Frontier against Pathans (Pustun-speakers) like those who made up most of the Taliban strength. The final refrain of one of those ballads, Screw-Guns, couldn't be better illustrated than by what you're about to see:

You may hide in the caves, they'll be only your graves, but
you can't get away from the guns!

Dave Drake