More "Anti-Personnel" Gunships Deployed in Iraq

March 7, 2006

On March 3, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. Air Force has begun moving heavily armed AC-130 airplanes -- the lethal "flying gunships" -- to a base in Iraq to provide commanders with new tools to counter the Iraqi resistance.

Four of these four-engine gunships are expected to be deployed in the next few days.

The AC-130s, 98-foot-long planes that can slowly circle over a target for long periods, contain a potent arsenal -- 40 mm cannon that can fire 120 rounds per minute, and big 105 mm cannon, normally a field artillery weapon. The plane's latest version, the AC-130U, known as "Spooky," also carries Gatling gun-type 20 mm cannon.

The AC-130 gunship was designed to unleash saturation firepower on massed troops. The U.S. army has also repeatedly used these weapons to target heavily populated civilians areas -- in Vietnam entire villages and towns were wiped out by these gunships. In Iraq, they were used in the November 2004 destruction of Fallujah. Ever since the war against Vietnam, these gunships have been known as "anti-personnel" weapons -- weapons explicitly used to target civilian populations.