The U.S. Air Force doesn’t want to waste
its your money. In theory. In practice, the U.S.A.F.’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) tries to make sure sh*t works as advertised. Robert F. Behler’s 2017 annual fiscal [sic] report reveals that the 30mm cannon on the new AC130J Ghostrider gunship is having “issues.” airforcetimes.com reports . . .
The AC-130J Ghostrider’s 30mm cannon fires up to 200 Coca-Cola bottle-sized rounds per minute ― but it recoils so heavily it causes a “retrigger,” forcing the gun to automatically stop firing while it re-centers itself. The operator then has to release and re-pull the trigger to start shooting again . . .
The report said that the retrigger happens when the 30mm’s recoil kicks it beyond a preset angular limit, which is called “tracking inhibit,” which shuts off the gun and starts the re-centering process.
Now how much did you pay? But wait! There’s more!
The 30mm, which is a pallet-mounted, side-firing chain gun, is also having calibration problems. Its gun fire control system should compensate for altitude, slant range and ambient wind changes after it is calibrated, to make sure the first rounds fired at the target are accurate.
But that’s not happening, testers said.
“Operators are unable to independently update the [fire control system’s] wind calibration factor without changing the inherent gun-mount calibration factor,” the report said . . .
The report also dinged the Ghostrider for its software complexity, inadequate training and technical manuals, and overall operating environment, which it said diminishes the aircraft’s usability.
Speaking of the gunship’s operating environment, it’s a good thing the Ghostrider’s 105mm cannon — added at the insistence of former head of Air Force Special Operations Command Lt. Gen. Bradley “I Want Two Guns” Heithold — is such a joy to operate. Or is it?
The Air Force has added panels to cover the cargo area floor of the modified MC-130J, to reduce the risk of air crew tripping. But those new panels are interfering with the loading of the 105mm shells, the report said.
And the 105mm ammunition rack doesn’t have a forward restraint, which is causing “an excessive number of rounds” to come loose.
Question: what’s an acceptable number of 105mm rounds to come loose inside an airplane?
I know: teething troubles. All new weapons systems have them. It’s only a matter of time before the Air Force sorts out the problems bedeviling “the ultimate battle plane.” Time and money. Lots and lots of money.