The U.S. Air Force has sent the last AC-130U “Spooky” gunship to the Boneyard, capping a career spanning three decades. The gunship, named “Gunslinger,” was sent to the Arizona desert for what is likely a one-way trip. Another of the heavily armed transport planes, “Big Daddy,” earned a coveted black letter for excellence and a spot at the Hurlburt Field outdoor museum.
The AC-130U “Spooky” gunship was one of the most important aircraft of the post-Cold War period. The third-generation gunships first entered service in 1995 and flew combat missions over Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and against the Islamic State. The gunship was equipped with a 25-millimeter Gatling gun, 40-millimeter Bofors cannon, and was the last gunship armed with a 105-millimeter howitzer operating in the direct fire role.
The Air Force retired the last of its Spooky gunships this year with “Gunslinger” taking its final flight to Davis Monthan Air Force Base on June 26, 2020. Davis Monthan is the location of “The Boneyard,” the U.S. Military’s retirement home for aging warplanes. There, under the care of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, aircraft sit in the dry Arizona desert. Planes sit at the Boneyard until they are needed again or are permanently destroyed. Many are cannibalized for spare parts to keep planes still on active duty flying.