The Lockheed AC-130 gunship is a heavily-armed ground-attack aircraft variant of the C-130 Hercules transport plane.
The gunship’s sole user is the United States Air Force, which uses AC-130H Spectre, AC-130U Spooky, and AC-130W Stinger II variants for close air support, air interdiction and force protection.
Close air support roles include supporting ground troops, escorting convoys, and flying urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against planned targets and targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include defending air bases and other facilities.
All of the weaponry aboard is mounted to fire out from the left or port side of the aircraft. During an attack, the gunship performs a pylon turn over the target area (flying in a large circle around a fixed point on the ground, the fixed point being the target).
This allows it to maintain fire at a target far longer than a conventional attack aircraft.
AC-130U SPOOKY II comes with 25mm cannon (automatic), 40mm cannon which is continuously loaded 4 rounds at a time with 1 crew member and 105 mm howitzer loaded 1 round at a time with 3 crew members operating it.
In 2021 it was reported that US AC-130U gunship will be armed with a Airborne High Energy Laser, or AHEL, which is set to be flight tested this year.