Greece Is Bailing Us Out?

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Air Force photo / Master Sgt. Jack Braden

An AC-130 Spectre gunship on a training mission over New Mexico.

Greece is on the verge of default. So who better to come to the aid of the U.S. Special Operations Command?

Battleland regularly gets reports from the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan over caches of Taliban weapons it has captured and destroyed.

But this Air Force release speaks of a different kind of weapons cache that definitely wasn’t destroyed:

A tip…led…to a valuable supply of modified 40 mm  M2 A1 gun parts used on the AC-130 gunship, which netted an Air Force savings of more than $14 million.

It seems the U.S. military gave a bunch of the now nearly-extinct guns to allies in the late 1940s and 1950s under the Marshall Plan. The Greeks stopped using the weapon in 2005. The U.S. military only uses it on its handful of AC-130 gunships.


Air Force photo

Bill Walter, right, led the hunt for the half-century old gun parts.

USSOCOM learned of the stockpile from the U.S. Army. Greece let the U.S. have the $14 million in surplus parts. The command spent $14,000 shipping them from Athens to Florida’s Elgin Air Force Base, where they arrived last month.

The U.S. repatriated 139 barrels and other parts. The barrels cost $12,000 to make right after World War II, but would cost 10 times that to manufacture today. “Normally, finding many out of production parts is almost impossible, but in this case, we were very lucky to find a treasure trove of brand-new, old parts,” said Bill Walter, an Air Force Special Operation Command Strike Requirements Branch program analyst.

“I spent two days combing through several arsenals searching for 40 mm parts,” he told Air Force Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost. “It was just like going into a museum. I just felt awestruck. It was like I stepped into another time, like stepping back 50 or 60 years.”

Think of Walter as the Air Force’s Indiana Jones.