October 18, 2001
6:14 AM   Subscribe

spooky - in the house [movie link] "We explained our situation and the guy [in the gunship] said, 'Where are you?' and we showed him, and he said, 'Where are the bad guys?' and we showed him that. There was a pregnant pause for a couple of seconds, and then he said, 'You need to move back 18 feet.' " -dragon's breath. cone of fire.
posted by roboto (25 comments total)
Is there a windows media verson of the movie? (Real Player doesn't play nice for me at work.)
posted by Hankins at 6:33 AM on October 18, 2001

The two most telling arguments for the AC-130 were its survivability and its effectiveness. It cost $5,100, on average, for Gunship II to destroy or damage a truck. For an F-105, the cost per vehicle was $118,000. Note: Vietnam era numbers.

How to Rain Death and Destruction on your Enemy, for people on a budget.
posted by xiffix at 6:37 AM on October 18, 2001

i have no idea how you feel about it, but this childish excitement about warfare and military equipment makes me sick.
posted by arf at 6:38 AM on October 18, 2001

It's not childish.
posted by techgnollogic at 6:56 AM on October 18, 2001

yeah baby, this thing can clear any party, a real earphone ride. I love the 105mm howitzer.damn a howitzer on an airplane. and those Bofors(?), 40mm fun in the sun .new toys in the Theatre. arf go barf with the rest of the lambs being lined up. its ok, some one will protect you. I bet the NA generals will stop the "not enough firepower" trip."How to Rain Death and Destruction on your Enemy, for people on a budget." kinda like the 9-11 terrorists ? they did it on the cheap. what makes me sick is the unthinking knee-jerk powerless people who stopped critiquing that day. how anything negative would be "inappropriate" well i knew that the same sick minded, powerless people would start back with pedantic messages and weak Pleas for restraint, love and "its our fault". ahhh, war. it turns cowards into "patriots" and patriots into people who laugh at the rest.
posted by newnameintown at 7:07 AM on October 18, 2001

I been told by people who have heard this plan do a fly-by saying its one of the most off-putting loudness they have ever herd. They said it sounds like a swarm of death from the sky if you can image such a sound. Very intimidating.
posted by Qambient at 7:09 AM on October 18, 2001

The AC-130 cover every square inch of land the size of a football field in appx. 30 secs to 1 minute.

That is some awesome firepower.
posted by da5id at 7:27 AM on October 18, 2001

like flags and banners from sun-tzu.
posted by newnameintown at 8:09 AM on October 18, 2001

This is the ultimate CAS (close air support) weapon of the moment -- the Spooky is unique in the world in that it can engage two targets at the same time. It's yet another reason that US airpower is such a formidable force -- we can engage and defeat foes in ways that used to take a large number of ground troops.

There is a lot of debate within military circles as to whether air power alone can win wars. Ultimately it comes down to what the objectives are: if you plan to occupy and hold land, you need troops on the ground, and in great numbers. But in a theater like Afghanistan, our troops will be limited to small teams of special forces who are tasked with search and destroy missions. Their opponents are likely to be mostly lightly-armed militia and light armor. For this role, the AC130 is a terrifying and formidable weapon.

It's interesting that the AC130 was brought in at this stage and advertised so widely. This is clearly a PsyOps move to demoralize the enemy -- one look at an AC130 spitting a laser-like stream of fire at a ground position is enough to scare the crap out of even the most battle-hardened troops.
posted by mrmanley at 8:17 AM on October 18, 2001

wow. cool links. thx for the post(s).
posted by skechada at 8:55 AM on October 18, 2001

The AC-130 cover every square inch of land the size of a football field in appx. 30 secs to 1 minute.

Sure beats watching the Redskins die a thousand deaths in 60, I guess.
posted by ethmar at 9:15 AM on October 18, 2001

The question of whether air power alone can win a war has now been settled: it did so in Serbia. However, the only way it will here is by destabilizing the Taliban and causing them to collapse, and in that case there will be ground forces involved, it's just that they'll belong to the Northern Alliance and not to us.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:32 AM on October 18, 2001

Dragons Breath and Cone of Fire.. good to see our military has turned to Wizard spells from Dungeons and Dragons to fight our battles for us. Now all we need is a battalion armed with a wand of Melf's Acid Arrow.
posted by Hildago at 9:36 AM on October 18, 2001

SDB--Very true on air power winning a war. I've been contemplating a post about just that.
Two years ago, as U.S. warplanes began bombing Serbia in the NATO effort to end Slobodan Milosevic's genocidal siege of Kosovo, there was an expert on every TV and radio channel explaining why it wouldn't work. The overwhelming verdict of conventional opinion was that the Kosovo bombing was bound to fail. The air attacks would only harden Milosevic and the Serbian people, just as Nazi air attacks over England had made the British more resolute. War required sacrifice from both sides. If NATO was unwilling to commit ground troops -- and Clinton had foolishly announced it would not -- then Milosevic would ride out the air attacks and emerge stronger than ever.

Today, Milosevic is on trial for genocide. Serb armies withdrew from Kosovo, the dictatorship fell, and democracy prevailed. The bombing campaign worked magnificently, accomplishing both its military and political goals. I'm still waiting for one of those experts to acknowledge that he was wrong. Even more surprising, no one in Washington has ever openly celebrated the victory.
That's from a Washington Post review of 'War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals' by David Halberstam. The Post also has the entire first chapter available on it's site. If you, or anyone else for that matter feels it's worthy of a front page spot, go ahead and elevate it.
posted by NortonDC at 9:44 AM on October 18, 2001

wow.. those are some pretty crazy screenshots.. is there any site with video clips of this thing in action?

good to see our military has turned to Wizard spells from Dungeons and Dragons to fight our battles for us.

that was just hilarious...
posted by lotsofno at 9:56 AM on October 18, 2001

Predator starts living up to its name
But now the Air Force has outfitted them with Hellfire antitank missiles, powerful weapons usually carried on helicopters, the officials said.

How long before these things are doing their own target acquisition in theatres where there are no friendlies on the ground?
posted by xiffix at 11:13 AM on October 18, 2001

Lotsofno, I've seen documentaries which included footage of it on the History channel. The guns are pretty standard and weren't designed specifically for this use. The wizardry is in the aiming system, which is all computer controlled. It has to be; a human firing it would miss badly to the right. The plane carries four gunners, but what they do is to keep the weapons loaded; aiming and firing is done by a weapons officer sitting in front of a computer console. That said, each of the three weapons is quite impressive; this is definitely not something you'd want firing at you. That Gatling gun is damned scary.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:14 AM on October 18, 2001

Re: Air power winning the war in Kosovo

I was under the impression that the air war in Kosovo was largely ineffective until NATO started coordinating with the KLA. The Serbian troops and their assets were well camulflaged, and it was only when ground forces attacked that they had to get out in the open. Or so I thought....
posted by electro at 11:50 AM on October 18, 2001

Electro, the traditional argument has been whether it was necessary for troops to ultimately get involved in a ground action. The contention was that air could soften up an enemy, but that ground action would always be necessary, even if it was easy. "Scouting" (i.e. using small groups of men on the ground to find and designate targets) isn't considered ground action.

The war over Kosovo was the first war I know of which was decided without committing ground troops and having a ground action. It was entirely settled by air power, which destabilized the Milosevic regime and lead to what amounts to a revolution in Serbia, thus eliminating the reason for the war.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 1:08 PM on October 18, 2001

Well, the AC-130 has low-light TV, and infrared sensors. Considering this baby has a 105mm howitzer on it, it probably doesn't make a difference how well they are camoflaged.

Interesting tidbit also...the first production C-130 also happened to be the first one modified into the gunship. And it also happens to be at the US Air Force Museum.
posted by PeteyStock at 2:06 PM on October 18, 2001

xiffix: budget is everything in a drawn-out war of any kind. The whole point is to destroy an asset with an expenditure less than the enemy's. Imagine a Risk game: if you have 10 pieces, and the enemy has 10, a 1:1 kill ratio leaves you with nothing to hold two regions. You'd rather kill 10 of the enemy with a fraction of your men lost -- 5 would be good, but in reality it's more likely that you'll have to spend 2 men for every man in an entrenched defensive position. One way to get around those dismal kill ratios is technology, but here again instead of lives you want to count dollars. It does no good to destroy a $50,000 SUV using a $1 million missile, unless you're really rich and have a lot of missiles. Here both actually apply to us, and the value of destroying that SUV is actually higher because of the speed with which we want to cripple the Taliban, but you see the overall point.

The hijackers on 9/11 spent around $200,000, but destroyed $100 billion in property and collateral losses. That's pretty darn good. And that's why asymmetrical warfare is so dangerous.

arf: It's not childish. It's deadly serious. Some of the hype can be disturbing in a Dr. Strangelove kind of way (watch any defense industry promotional video for instance), but in the case of our troops' lives vs. their troops' lives, I'm very happy to know that we have something like the AC-130 in our arsenal. As venerable a plane as it is, as "lumbering" as it is invariably described (props vs. jets), it's one damned effective air support resource.
posted by dhartung at 4:27 PM on October 18, 2001

Dan, it's not that simple. If we're richer than they are, we might be willing to spend more than replacement value to destroy an asset. Rather than think of it as a dollar amount, think of it in terms of GDP. If we can spend %.001 of our GDP to destroy something belonging to them which is worth .2% of their GDP, then it's worth doing -- even if it's actually a larger amount of money for us than for them.

And even that isn't sufficient, because replacement also takes time. For example, it might under some circumstances be worth spending a lot of money to take out railroad lines, even though they can be repaired cheaply, because of the secondary effects doing that would have.

It's not just about trading bucks back and forth.

Budget is everything, because budget is logistics, and all modern war is driven by logistics. Your goal is to maintain your own logistics at a satisfactory flow rate while interfering with your opponent's logistics to leave his units starved. When you do that, his combat power plummets.

But the US tends to fight a "rich man's war" -- we're willing to spend $3 million on a Tomahawk to take out a target worth $500K (like a missile battery), because we've got the $3 million and they don't have the $500K, and even if they did they don't have a replacement source for whatever it was.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:41 PM on October 18, 2001

Sure beats watching the Redskins die a thousand deaths in 60, I guess.

/Baby Owillis *cries*
posted by owillis at 4:50 PM on October 18, 2001

Ho Chi Minh is reputed to have said during the Vietnam war, "You will kill 10 of my men, I will kill one of yours, and you will tire of it first." Substitute money for people, and you've got the US.

In more ways than one, I suppose.
posted by jaek at 5:25 PM on October 18, 2001

dan. nice, but you no that part of covert operational statis is to start cheap. that what we did. Chile, probably 100k in bribes and contracts to idiots would be dead in a pronuncimento a few weeks down the road. hell supplying castro when he was a 'asset' was basically free as the hardware was surplus, written off by BIG SAM. a point of war in theory is that we spend alot to keep our people safe. (Maher calls in cowardice) now does that kind of weapons development say something about the development of warfare around the world? darn tooting. you hit the ground you better smack all the rats, mines, spies, booby traps , snakes, scorpions and any assorted trash that may pose a danger to them boys. Jaek. WE TAUGHT HIM TO TALK THAT WAY. Lets start rattling heads here folks. time for the big game. Historically, we have tried to avert war and install people we either thought or did not think could hold there installation. SO WHAT. that is evident. the larger question is why. you tell me?
posted by newnameintown at 7:15 PM on October 18, 2001

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