Thomas Wictor

Stealth is not a violation of international humanitarian law

Stealth is not a violation of international humanitarian law

When Operation Iraqi Freedom began, I sat in front of my television for three weeks, watching the war in real time. I thought that it was a good idea to embed journalists with the troops so that the world could see that the US was not committing atrocities. Well, I was wrong. The Arab League taught me that stealth is far superior to openness. The main reason that Arab military leaders fight in secret is to save lives.

Stealth aircraft

Being a military historian, I want to know about weapons. However, the Arab League prefers to not display its capabilities. Last year I saw a video that changed my entire mindset in regard to warfare and the Middle East. This is it.

That’s an American-made Lockheed AC-130 gunship attacking an Islamic State position in Syria. You can hear the droning turboprop engines of the aircraft. However, there are two L/60 40mm cannons firing. The galloping, irregular ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump sound proves without any doubt that there are two guns.

Currently, there’s no American AC-130 with two 40mm cannons. However, we once had the AC-130A, which was retired in 1995. Several were put into storage by the US Air Force Materiel Command 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG). The “pickled” aircraft are at the “Boneyard” of Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, near Tucson, Arizona.

Here’s an AC-130A in the Boneyard.

These are the two 40mm L/60 cannons.

It’s obvious that we leased several AC-130A gunships to Saudi Arabia.

Stealth leases

It was incredibly difficult to design the gun mountings of the AC-130A, so it’s very unlikely that the Saudis would go through the trouble of building their own from scratch.

If we’d sold the aircraft, the idiots of the US Congress and State Department would’ve had to approve. I’m sure we can all agree that too many politicians and government bureaucrats would oppose allowing the Saudis to own this iconic American gunship. Therefore President Obama leased them.

The Arms Export Control Act gives the president the authority to bypass Congress and the State Department.

If President Obama declared that the Saudis and Emiratis needed the AC-130A immediately, in the name of US national security, only four people in the US government would know this: the president, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Stealth cannons

There’s no doubt that the cannons in the video from Syria are 40mm L/60s. Some people told me that maybe this is an experimental American AC-130W Stinger II with two GAU-23 30mm cannons. However, even someone with no knowledge of weaponry can tell the difference between the cannons above and the GAU-23.

As you can hear, the GAU-23 has a much higher rate of fire, and it’s quieter. The GAU-23 fires 200 rounds per minute, while the L/60 M2A1 fires 120.

A newscast confirms that we leased AC-130A gunships to the Saudis. Here are Saudi Border Guards fighting off a Houthi attack.

Two rounds hitting at the same time means two cannons. Listen to the heavy impacts. I’m sure that new L/60 guns were manufactured.

The Saudis use their AC-130As in defense of Saudi Arabia and Syrian Kurds.

From 0:27 in the video above, you can hear the unmistakable drone of the four turboprop engines. Again, two rounds hitting simultaneously means two cannons.

Then we have something else.


I’ve seen this happen multiple times. An Islamic State suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) is tossed skyward by an explosion.

Then the SVBIED blows up in midair.

I believe that the Arab League has rockets designed to explode underneath SVBIEDs. Then the SVBIED is launched upward, to detonate harmlessly.

This is just a guess, because nobody’s talking. That’s very smart of them. There’s no requirement that armed forces fight openly. What I admire most is unconventional thinking and the willingness to take calculated risks. The world has begun to change dramatically for the better. People are sick of the old, dysfunctional ways of doing things.

Did you know that I write my posts in complete isolation? Not one military “expert” wants to hear from me or about me. I learned this the hard way, by being ignored, ridiculed, or attacked with incredibly personal viciousness. People ask me, “Can you corroborate your theories with a credible source?”

No. There are no credible sources left. I’m the only one. My credibility stems from my refusal to personalize any of this.

Stealth plans

Something may soon happen in the Yemeni city of Sanaa.

Sanaa is the capital of Yemen, taken over by the Houthi rebels on September 21, 2014. Several Arab-language news outlets report that Saudi tanks, the Yemeni army, and up to 10,000 tribal fighters loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi are headed to Sanaa to liberate it.

Years ago I read something about basketball that stayed with me. To trick a defender, you use what’s called a “jab step.” You make the opponent think you’re going to advance in one direction, and then you actually go in the other.

You can fake right and then go left; or you can fake right, fake left, and then go right. In the book I read, it said that the best offensive basketball player who ever lived was Bob Pettit.

I don’t know anything about sports, but the book said that Pettit was such a brilliant offensive player because he would fake right, and then he would go right. Or he would fake left and then go left. Without breaking stride or hesitating, Pettit would somehow convince a defender that his movement either right or left was fake. The defender would always be tricked into lunging in the wrong direction.

Though there’s no way for me to know how or when the Saudi-led Coalition will liberate Sanaa, the Houthis will be tricked. I can promise you that. The Saudis and their allies are like Bob Pettit. They have the ability to always confound expectations.

It’s a magnificent skill, especially in the current era of great change that oppressors are violently resisting.

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