The AC-130W Stinger II primary missions are close air support and air interdiction. Close air support missions include troops in contact, convoy escort and point air defense. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity and include strike coordination and reconnaissance.
The aircraft is a highly modified C-130H featuring improved navigation, threat detection, countermeasures, and communication suites. All AC-130W aircraft are modified with a precision strike package to perform the gunship mission.
Modifications to the AC-130W include a mission management console, communications suite, two electro-optical/infrared sensors, fire control equipment, precision guided munitions delivery capability; and one side-firing, trainable 30mm gun with tracer-less ammunition and associated munitions storage system. The mission management system will fuse sensor, communication, environment, order of battle and threat information into a common operating picture. The AC-130W Stinger II Precision Strike Package modification provides ground forces an expeditionary, persistent direct fires platform that delivers precision low-yield munitions, ideally suited for close air support and urban operations.
Lessons learned from overseas contingency operations have modified the near-term needs of U.S. Special Operations Command and Special Operations Forces fire support requirements. In July 2007, the USSOCOM Commander declared the need to grow the gunship fleet. The commander's intent was not to replace current AC-130s, but rather to augment existing combat capability.
In May 2012, the MC-130W Dragon Spear was renamed the AC-130W Stinger II. The AC-130W Stinger II Project was developed to increase the precision fires capacity available for Overseas Contingency Operations. USSOCOM used proven rapid acquisition principles and combat proven technology to field the Precision Strike Package on the AC-130W Stinger II. It took less than 18 months from the first flight of a prototype modified aircraft to deployment to Operation New Dawn. AC-130W gunships have since been employed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Inherent Resolve.
Power plant: four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops
Thrust: Thrust 4,300 shaft horsepower each engine
Speed: 300 mph
Ceiling: 28,000 feet
Maximum takeoff weight: 155,000 pounds
Range: 2,500 nautical miles; limited by crew duty day with air refueling
Crew: two pilots, two combat system officers, flight engineer, two special mission aviators
Armament: 30mm GAU-23 Cannon, standoff precision guided munitions, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb
Date deployed: MC-130W with PSP November 2010
Unit cost: AC-130W, $122 million
Inventory: active duty, 12; Reserve/ANG