USAF retires final AC-130U Spooky gunships

The US Air Force (USAF) has retired its last operational Lockheed AC-130U Spooky gunship from service, with the type being replaced by the new Lockheed Martin AC-130J Ghostrider.

The final AC-130U – serial 89-0510 (c/n 382-5229) ‘Gunslinger’ – was operated by the 4th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) ‘Ghostriders’, a part of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

It was flown to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB), Arizona, for storage alongside its fellow aircraft with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) on June 26.

AC-130U [USAF/A1C Hailey M Ziegler] #1
Personnel from the 4th SOS and the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) prepare AC-130U - serial 89-0510 (c/n 382-5229) 'Gunslinger' - for its final flight to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, on June 26. USAF/Airman 1st Class Hailey M Ziegler

In total, 13 examples of the AC-130U Spooky have served within the USAF’s ranks since 1995. This number was increased to 17 in 2007, when four C-130Hs were converted to AC-130U-standard. The service retired its first Spooky on September 22, 2015, followed by four more in 2018, four in 2019 and the remaining seven this year.

All but one of the now-retired aircraft have been placed in storage with the AMARG. The exception is AC-130U – serial 87-0128 (c/n 382-5139) ‘Big Daddy’ – which has been retained in Florida for preservation at the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park.

AC-130U [USAF/A1C Hailey M Ziegler] #1
AC-130U - serial 87-0128 (c/n 382-5139) 'Big Daddy' - will remain in Florida for preservation at the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park. USAF/Airman 1st Class Hailey M Ziegler