Light CAS fighter proposal revised

Background

While I have proposed a CAS fighter aircraft and ideal composition of NATO air forces, neither of these proposals is very realistic. Western air forces, especially US ones (USAF, US Navy and USMC), tend to hate any simple, effective designs – especially if said designs are meant to support the ground troops. To this end, USAF and US Army have signed a Key West agreement, preventing the US Army from having fixed-wing aircraft heavier than 10.000 lbs.

While USAF says that precision munitions allow fast jets to carry out CAS, that is utterly in contradiction to battlefield realities. Infantry combat typically happens at ranges of less then 100 meters, and never at ranges above 500 meters; “danger close” limits (minimum distance one can employ a weapon at) are 500 meters for 500 lb bomb, 350 meters for 250 lb bomb and 50 meters for gun. But fast jets are too fast to use gun effectively, and even precision munitions loose precision with increasing speed and altitude. Helicopters meanwhile are at danger from small-arms fire – during the Gulf War, after 30 Apache helicopters were shot up (out of 33), they never flew in front of the ground troops again. Soviets lost hundreds of heavily-armed and heavily-armored Mi-24 helicopters during the Afghan war.

 

Gun and engines will be same as on the CAS fighter aircraft proposal. It will not use guided missiles or any sensors except night-vision googles for the pilot. It will only have gun, a radio for pilot to talk to ground troops, titanium bathtub for pilot, a single engine, and necessary flight instruments.

 

Equipment

 

Weapons:

1xGAU-32 with 900 rounds

Length: 2,53 m

Width: 0,31 m

Rate of fire: 4.200 rpm

Muzzle velocity: 1.000 m/s

Projectile: 378 g

Round: 681 g

1-second burst: 70 rounds / 13,23 MJ

 

Engine:

Maximum thrust: 6.970 lbf (3.162 kgf, 31 kN)

SFC at maximum thrust: 0,408 lb / lbf hr

Fuel consumption at maximum thrust: 1.290 kg per hour

Cruise thrust: 2.250 lbf

SFC at cruise thrust: 0,72 lb / lbf hr

Fuel consumption at cruise thrust: 735 kg per hour

Length: 162 cm

Diameter: 102 cm

 

Design

alx

 

Design calculations

Empty weight

VB-100 was supposed to have an empty weight of 2.530 kg at dimensions of 10,48 meters length and 8,23 meters wing span. With 9,74 meter length and 8,02 meter wing span, ALX will weight 2.330 kg.

 

Fuel capacity

Centerline tanks: 717.264 + 303.456 + 72.720 cm3 = 1.093.440 cm3

Wing tanks: 2* (5*10.431 + 5*15.680 + 5*5060) cm3 = 311.710 cm3

Spinal tank: 2.906.960 cm3

TOTAL: 4.312.110 cm3 = 4.312,11 l * 0,81 kg/l = 3.492 kg

 

Weights

Design empty: 2.330 kg (5.137 lb)

Basic empty (design empty + unusable fuel, undrainable oil, survival equipment) = 2.400 kg (5.291 lb)

Operational empty (basic empty + crew, weapons racks, ejectors, gun, etc.) = 2.550 kg (5.622 lb)

Armed empty (operational empty + ammo) = 3.163 kg

Combat (armed empty + 50% fuel) = 4.909 kg

Combat takeoff (armed empty + 100% fuel) = 6.655 kg

Maximum takeoff (theoretical) = 6.970 kg

 

2% of the fuel is not usable.

Oil is 1% of the engine weight.

Missile rail launcher weights 12 kg.

Pilot weights 100 kg with equipment.

 

Theoretical maximum takeoff weight is calculated with [weight in kg = dry thrust in lb].

 

Minimum takeoff distance

9% increase in TWR means 8% decrease in takeoff distance.

As a rule of thumb,10% increase in takeoff weight increases the takeoff run by 21%.

10% increase in landing weight increases the landing run by 10%.

10% increase in wing area (9% decrease in wing loading) decreases the takeoff speed by 5%.

Compared to concrete, dry grass increases the takeoff run by 15%. It also increases the landing roll.

A-10 has 21.368 kg combat takeoff weight, 482 kg/m2 wing loading and TWR of 0,36. Takeoff run is 1.200 meters. ALX has 6.655 kg combat takeoff weight (takeoff run: 154 m), wing loading of 391 kg/m2 (takeoff run: 139 m) and TWR of 0,48 (takeoff run: 104 m).

 

Climb rate

Climb rate increases proportionally to increase in thrust-to-weight ratio. A-10 has an initial climb rate of 1.829 m/min. Thus ALXs initial climb rate will be 2439 meters per minute (67,74 meters per second). Time to 5.000 feet will be assumed to be 360 seconds (6 minutes).

 

Range

Standard combat radius will be calculated with following parameters: 1) takeoff; 2) time to 1.500 meters at full dry thrust; 3) 30 minutes of loiter; 4) 10 minutes of combat; 5) subsonic cruise to and from the enemy territory. 115 kg of fuel will be kept in reserve and 15 kg of fuel will be considered unusable. Climb uses up 774 kg of fuel, loiter uses up 367 kg of fuel, and combat uses up 215 kg of fuel. This leaves 2136 kg of fuel, for a flight time of 2,9 hours and a combat radius of 698 km.

 

Cost

VB-100 Blitzfighter was supposed to weight 5.578 lbs (2.530 kg) and cost 2 million FY1978 USD (7,5 million FY2014 USD). This gives a cost of 2.964 USD/kg, or about twice the A-10s value of 1.413 USD/kg. If A-10s value is used, ALX would cost 3,3 million USD. If VB-100 value is used, ALX would cost 6,9 million USD.

 

Design overview

 

alx

 

Length: 9,74 m

Wingspan: 8,02 m

Height: 3,18 m

 

Fuel capacity: 1.138 kg

 

Weight:

2.400 kg empty

6.655 kg combat takeoff

4.909 kg combat

 

Wing area: 17 m2

 

Wing loading:

391 kg/m2 combat takeoff

289 kg/m2 combat

 

Weapons:

1xGAU-32 with 900 rounds
Length: 2,53 m
Width: 0,31 m
Rate of fire: 4.200 rpm
Muzzle velocity: 1.000 m/s
Projectile: 378 g
Round: 681 g
1-second burst: 70 rounds / 13,23 MJ

2 x underwing hardpoints (EDIT 20.8.2016.)
CRV-7Gun pods
Fuel tanks
Dispensers

Engine:

Maximum thrust: 6.970 lbf (3.162 kgf, 31 kN)

SFC at maximum thrust: 0,408 lb / lbf hr

Fuel consumption at maximum thrust: 1.290 kg per hour

Cruise thrust: 2.250 lbf

SFC at cruise thrust: 0,72 lb / lbf hr

Fuel consumption at cruise thrust: 735 kg per hour

Length: 162 cm

Diameter: 102 cm

 

Speed:

Maximum: 804 kph

Cruise: 482 kph

 

Thrust to weight ratio:

0,75 combat takeoff

0,86 combat

 

Combat radius: 698 km

 

Unit flyaway cost: 3,3 million USD

 

Comparision with AX

Compared with AX proposal, ALXs smaller size, lower wing loading and higher thrust-to-weight ratio will allow significantly better maneuverability. This however comes at a cost of lower combat radius and inferior damage tolerance. Smaller cost (3,3 million USD vs 9,2 million USD) and easier maintenance due to the single engine will however allow significantly greater number of sorties for the same procurement cost (909 sorties for ALX vs 324 sorties for AX).

Smaller size, less weight and smaller takeoff distance will also allow far better road- and rough field- -basing capability. It will have 17 attack passes compared to 23 for AX, giving it 15.453 attack passes per day per billion procurement USD, compared to 7.452 passes for the AX.

 

Links

http://blacktailfa.deviantart.com/art/Vought-VB-100-Blitzfighter-296126107

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52 replies

  1. “Compared with AX proposal, ALXs smaller size, lower wing loading and higher thrust-to-weight ratio will allow significantly better maneuverability. This however comes at a cost of lower combat radius and inferior damage tolerance. Smaller cost (3,3 million USD vs 9,2 million USD) and easier maintenance due to the single engine will however allow significantly greater number of sorties for the same procurement cost (909 sorties for ALX vs 324 sorties for AX).”

    The other issue I see is that there’s no second pilot in the back to observe. That could be an issue depending on the situation.

    The gun is a bit off centre too. Is there any risk of the plane yawing a bit when the gun is bursting?

    Also can you explain your choice for the wing design a bit more in depth?

    • “The other issue I see is that there’s no second pilot in the back to observe. That could be an issue depending on the situation. ”

      Indeed, it would need OLX and ground observer support to be fully effective.

      “The gun is a bit off centre too. Is there any risk of the plane yawing a bit when the gun is bursting? ”

      Yeah, it is a possibility, but I did drawing in a bit of hurry.

      “Also can you explain your choice for the wing design a bit more in depth?”

      Larger wing area for the same wing span, which translates into easier road basing.

  2. I’ve always wondered why something small like this is not attempted by a small to medium sized nation. It would not take much money to implement something like this.

    I mean, contrast this with an F-35 which will do “CAS” (not really):

    – It has maybe 15-25 minutes of fuel for loiter
    – Armed with a couple of PGMs, maybe some missiles
    – Not “all weather” for days where its foggy or something else is preventing low level aircraft
    – Stuck on fixed airbases

    – it does have a gun, BUT
    – If it goes down to use it, it will die because the aircraft cannot take much damage
    – Wing loading means the airplane cannot avoid ground fire well either
    – Not as good gun as a dedicated CAS plane

    • F-35s internal gun is terrible for CAS as it points upwards rather than downwards.

      • The F-35 won’t be doing CAS so it won’t matter either way. Admittedly, given the F-35’s expected performance, it won’t be hitting very many air targets (at least not against decent enemy pilots) either. Either way, it doesn’t matter.

        The USAF wanted to use it to kill the A-10 so that they could use the F-35 for bombing, not for real CAS.

  3. The scorpion is being shown in England right now. Not ready yet since it needs some more testing but it does have both internal bay for 3000 # (?) and 6000 lbs externally.

    Light attack BUT lacks armor. I do not know if that can be retrofitted or not.

    As important as Hellfire has become for light attack i feel that external hard points are almost essential.

    • You can’t rely on guided anything too much as you’ll run out of it sooner rather than later.

      • That’s the issue. Guided munitions are expensive and logistically demanding.

        Plus their Pk often does not live up to specifications, which worsens the problem because you need several times the original estimated amount to do anything – to say nothing of the risks of using such weapons in a situation where CAS is urgently needed.

  4. “I’ve always wondered why something small like this is not attempted by a small to medium sized nation.”

    Politics and economics. Small to medium nations are either:

    a) to corrupt for the politicians to care enough to back even such cheap project (example Romania, Ukraine )
    b) with industries weakened from transition to capitalism or still developing and thus lacking the number of industries and horizontal integration between them, necessary for every aircraft project even one as simple as this one. (example Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Ukraine, Finland, Switzerland )
    c) are part of some alliance, let’s call it NATO, where the senior partner in the alliance, let’s call it US, is using it’s political clout to bully them into buying it’s products so that the industry of the senior partner is strengthened at the expense of the industries of the junior partners. (examples Holland, Belgium, Norway, Romania, Poland etc)
    d) any combination of the above (example Romania which enters all 3 categories, Poland and Ukraine 2)

    • “a) to corrupt for the politicians to care enough to back even such cheap project (example Romania, Ukraine )”

      Most politicians don’t really care about their troops having something that could be useful. I mean there are some simple vehicles that could be built that could make a huge difference in most modern armies. It’s not expensive stuff at all.

      ” b) with industries weakened from transition to capitalism or still developing and thus lacking the number of industries and horizontal integration between them, necessary for every aircraft project even one as simple as this one. (example Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Ukraine, Finland, Switzerland )”

      Or actively outsourced for short-term profit, as happened in much of the Anglo-world.

      ” c) are part of some alliance, let’s call it NATO, where the senior partner in the alliance, let’s call it US, is using it’s political clout to bully them into buying it’s products so that the industry of the senior partner is strengthened at the expense of the industries of the junior partners. (examples Holland, Belgium, Norway, Romania, Poland etc)”

      Yeah I can see that happening with Canada. There’s a lot of pressure from the US to buy the F-35.

  5. You’re gonna need to send this design directly to Lockheed Martin or Boeing…

  6. I think there is one more issue with doctrine these days.

    I actually linked this to a friend of mine in the US. He did not read it, but my description. Assuming it was built, he says it’d be mostly used for the war in Afghanistan were it to enter service (which of course he noted it would not). It’s rough field abilities he thinks is the most useful thing (to work alongside A-10s, which he opposed retiring).

    The other issue I pointed out to him is that very simply, when occupying a nation, you do not want to use tactics that would anger the locals to such an extent that large quantities of such aircraft are needed in the first place. They are more meant for a “conventional” nation state warfare. Heavy use of air power tends to anger the locals when occupying. Judging by the experiences in Vietnam, Iraq, and other places, the US does not seem to want to learn this lesson, preferring to blame it on terrorism, communism, and the locals themselves. Similarly, the MRAP (mine resistant) vehicles represent a failure in policy in that the occupation has angered the locals to an extent that a substantial number feel the need to use such weapons. There seems to be a desire to ignore history at all costs here.

    I get the impression that many Americans still think that if they kill enough “terrorists” that everyone will somehow fall in line, when the exact opposite is happening.

    • Yes, it is easiest not to think (and therefore not to change) and keep pretending that sufficient amount of HE can solve any problem.

      • To be fair, a CAS fighter, if airpower is used in a counter insurgency situation, is probably the best choice – certainly better than area bombing, using PGMs, cluster munitions (can lead to fatalities for decades after conflicts), chemical weapons (ex: Agent Orange), incendiaries (napalm, white phosphorus), drone strikes, and various other high explosives. But yes, there’s the fact that minimizing airpower (and artillery) is going to win … in the long run. So far ever single effort to “win hearts and minds” by the West ends up in a cynical campaign of “let’s try to through airpower, artillery, and nightly raids to kill off the enemy faster than they replenish” only to anger the locals and fuel even more anti-American sentiment.

        It becomes this sort of self-defeating cycle. Of course, the questions are – is the US really fighting to win or to enrich the MICC?

        • They’re fighting to enrich the MICC… because when you take a look at how US system works, it’s all about MICC anyway. Generals push gold-plated irrelevancies into production so that they can get positions in military industry after retirement, and many of them when they retire become lobbysts for MICC.

    • We should follow the example of the British and train a local militia to suppress the local insurgents.

      • The hard part there will be giving an incentive for the locals to support you.

        • True, but go the easy way and you loose the war.

        • Chris, the word company, battalion and regiment are all from French origin and what I find remarkable is that before we had organized regiments the countryside was ravaged by marauding bands od unemployed knights who created chaos with out end.

          The french took some of those same hoods and by paying them they proceeded to “regiment” them into a loyal force that would fight the other hoods that refused to be regimented themselves.

          So you see, it has been done for centuries. You use one armed group to fight the other.

      • You’re missing a crucial detail… Westerners Afghanistan for example are invaders and as long as they are perceived as that they won’t be able to get any more than a token support from the locals.

  7. “You’re missing a crucial detail… Westerners Afghanistan for example are invaders and as long as they are perceived as that they won’t be able to get any more than a token support from the locals.”

    Yep.

    To the locals in Afghanistan, the US is an invader …. no different than the USSR, the British Empire, or any other invader that tried to take their land. That’s a hard pill for Americans to swallow, but it’s true.

    The only reason why the US has been able to get some people to join the “Afghan National Army” is because of the pay. They are not loyal. They will not stay. And more dangerously, there have been enemy forces who have managed to infiltrate it. They will not remain a cohesive fighting force for Western interests.

    If you’re a local, you know it’s only a matter of time before the invaders withdraw. Then when they do, the people that collaborated with the invading force, they tend to get punished. Witness what happened to the Nazi collaborators after WWII throughout Europe in the nations that Germany occupied. To the Afghan people, it’s a similar situation. That and the US hasn’t been keeping it’s word on what happens to its collaborators (safety outside of the nation).

    Plus, the more brutal you are, the more you lose support for the locals. HGR – that’s why Picard and I have been so strongly opposing things like drone strikes. They do result in backlash.

    • Basically, moral superiority is required to win a guerilla war, but it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for an invading force to gain a moral superiority over its opponent.

      • That is improbable.

        If there is a guerrilla movement with some degree of support, chances are the occupiers have already lost the moral tone. It means that the occupation has managed to mistreat the locals to such an extent that a large number are willing to take up arms and risk death against the occupiers.

        • Mostly true, but not necessarily – in some cases guerillas can be formed simply from remains of a previous regime’s most loyal forces. But a long-existing guerilla movement is a sure sign of failure since guerilla requires help from the local populace to exist for an extended period of time.

  8. “Mostly true, but not necessarily – in some cases guerillas can be formed simply from remains of a previous regime’s most loyal forces. But a long-existing guerilla movement is a sure sign of failure since guerilla requires help from the local populace to exist for an extended period of time.”

    I suppose you have a point there. If a previous regime had the support of a proportion of the population, you could have a guerrilla of some sort. I could see this happening in particular with ethnic conflicts within a nation where certain regimes favor their own ethnic group especially.

    In the long run though, yeah I’d agree. It would represent a failure to address the social issues of a nation. I imagine they involve providing that nation’s citizens with an acceptable standard of living to such an extent that they do not feel the need to revolt.

    The only time an invading force would get moral superiority is if the current regime did an appalling job of mistreating their citizens. Briefly, we actually saw this happen in Iraq before the US mismanaged the situation to such an extent that things got much, much worse for most of the citizens living there.

    • “Briefly, we actually saw this happen in Iraq before the US mismanaged the situation to such an extent that things got much, much worse for most of the citizens living there.”

      US didn’t care about consequences, they were too blinded by the neoliberal ideology.

      • “US didn’t care about consequences, they were too blinded by the neoliberal ideology.”

        I will agree with that but will add that Iraq was not a country… it was a collection of countries that where drawn together by totalitarian pressure and even then it would periodically explode in violence from time to time. The USA tried to create a system similar to what you see in some places like Switzerland with different cantons for different ethnic people but you are dealing here with tribalism that knows no boundaries.

        In my view, the Shias have it coming and the Saudis will not tolerate a border with Iran so watch out for them doing something like flying combat mission, etc.

        Also notice how helicopters fell into enemy hands in Iraq with out a fight and where flying the next day… fifth columnist and collaborators galore… the government can’t trust anyone.

  9. Also,

    “The only reason why the US has been able to get some people to join the “Afghan National Army” is because of the pay. They are not loyal. They will not stay. And more dangerously, there have been enemy forces who have managed to infiltrate it. They will not remain a cohesive fighting force for Western interests. ”

    The recent events in Iraq appear to have proved my point.

  10. It looks like an A4 Skyhawk Picard 🙂 (but much better)

    Even Sprey has had relatively positive things to say about the A4. In one of Sprey’s old papers on Close Support, he saw the A4 as the next best alternative to his A10 which also compared the Cessna Dragonfly and Corsair II. I heard Pierre mention the Skyhawk in a speech once whilst mentioning the faults of the Harrier. It was something along the lines of the A4 being the last half decent aircraft the marines used. He also said that at least the Skyhawk could “pretend” to do close support – Sounds harsh, but that a glowing endorsement from Sprey when most of the time he uses “Turkey” to describe most aircraft.

    • Yeah, Skyhawk is a good aircraft.

      • Yeah, the A-4 was used with great effect by Top Gun instructors against students in more ‘capable’ aircraft; the movie, “Top Gun”, shows how this is the case in the ACM scenes. The A-4 was used as a MiG 17 simulator. Anyway, with 720 degrees/second roll rate, it is one AGILE aircraft! It’s too bad no one on our side didn’t experiment making a dogfighter out of it…

        Anyway, there’s a REASON that the A-4 was called “Heinemann’s Hot Rod”, after the chap who designed her…

  11. Kudos for the fantastic info compiled on this site, it is refreshing (and informative) to read articles impervious to mainstream memes and acquired tastes (stealth “superiority”, missile efficiency, ignoring basic aerodynamics when assessing fighter performance…). Thank you!

    Have you considered the advantages/drawbacks a gun turret would bring to a CAS fighter? Like the one fitted on the OV-10X Super Bronco proposal from Boeing http://www.ov-10bronco.net/Technical/boeing_ov-10%28x%29_super_bronco_info_card_2009_01.pdf
    Sure it would degrade aerodynamics performance (more drag…), but it could provide for larger time window to sustain fire on a target, plus improved survivability in case of a crash. A smaller caliber (20 or 25mm, similar to Gsh-23-6) to keep a low profile/weight. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    • As I see it, turreted guns offer the following:

      Pros:
      1) greater flexibility
      2) greater time on target

      Cons:
      1) greater mechanical complexity
      2) reduced firepower
      3) reduced accuracy due to increased sensitivity to adverse conditions

      In the end, it is OK for light CAS/COIN aircraft and helicopters, but a full-blown CAS fighter should still have fixed gun.

  12. You know what would be interesting? Taking an old, Douglas Skyraider (one of the BEST CAS aircraft ever!), and mounting a modern turboprop on it…

      • What I had in mind was building the Skyraider again, and modifying the nose to accommodate a turboprop like a P & W of Canada PW150. The prop, airframe, and avionics would be modernised, of course, but you’d have a top CAS aircraft in a modernised, updated Skyraider. The only major criticism the A-1 received was that too few were built…

        • Indeed. But what I had in mind was a dual-use CAS/FAC aircraft. Take a look at last versions of my CAS and FAC aircraft proposals, and you will notice that both are designed so as to be capable of undertaking either CAS or FAC, though they are naturally optimized for one mission.

  13. You might be interested in this early 90s CAS concept, the Rutan ARES Mudfighter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG9LlHcX8lg

  14. As for Mr.Plastic, I like the idea of something in the Bronco form factor but… Not a Bronco.
    Something a little bigger, likely A-10 sized, thus, it’d have to be calculated to specifications.
    Which will pretty differ from his views which are very neat to YOV-10D, so… Let’s rock :

    ARMAMENT :
    ==========
    – Not one but TWO turrets with Nexter 30M791 totalling 3000 rounds (825k).
    With 2×2500 RPM, I think firepower is here. The gun being pretty light and recoil/gun lessened if compared to a GAU-8A.
    Many choppers having turrets, some already existing systems can be considered. Some kind of brake may be considered to have one of the turrets blocked in forward firing.

    – LOGIR kit adapted on CRV7. LOGIR has clearly been ‘scrapped’ as not enough expensive for MIC : all are selling -strangely at the same price- laser-beam riding kits for $30k, no matter if it’s MBDA, Raytheon, LockMart. At $5k for LOGIR, LOGIR is bad 😉 CRV7 kinetic energy being able to pierce through serious MBT hulls (T-72) or hardened aircraft shelters even with an inert warhead, they are pretty interesting. This will allow an €6700 price/unit for a fire’n’forget already pretty powerful mini-missile. Note : an unguided CRV7 is near 2x more accurate than an A-10 gun!

    – Combo rocket-pod/fuel tank (think about Matra JL-100), preferably with 32 CRV7 in
    6 shall be mounted as a typical payload. with 250kg fuel and 32x11kg of rockets, we have a 602kg, I think that it’s feasible to have a loaded combo of no more than 700kg.

    – Maybe being capable to carry 1 IR-AAM on each wingtip, optionally 2 additional placed overwing.
    Iron Dome interceptors modified with IR-seeker? (these are pretty cheap for their range)

    – Other weaponry may be possible, list would be long. Some Russian bombs could be interesing, i.e the KAB-100 guided bomb which is likely to be much more affordable than any western guided bomb.
    Maybe the XM395 guided mortar shell ($10k) could be considered while the Russian targetting system SVP-24 allows pinpoint accuracy with ‘dumb bombs’. We should definitively adopt something like this on all EU aircraft : US made JDAMs/LGBs are too much expensive. In case of contested airspace we also have much better stand-off things than USA : MBDA SCALP-EG/Apach, ASMP-A, AASM Hammer but a targetting system allowing to drop dumb bombs like Mk-8x or FABs with accuracy on par with GBU-10 etc would allow serious spares. We should also seriously reconsider the use of cluster-bombs but fitted with some system, maybe chemical, which would neutralise the unexploded submunitions a few minutes after their release and… There were many cases where napalm would have be useful to take care of the jihadist armies in the last decade.

    => Total payload incl. gun shells is a little above 5000kg. 5200-5500kg would be interesting.
    Thus, maybe having no combo pods and +1500kg internal fuel?
    => I see this more like an asset to use in numbers to enforce no drive/interdiction zones (ND/IZ) than a typical CAS-fighter. An interesting feature is being able to shoot the guns on each side of the aircraft. Usually, a 30mm being capable of 4-5km range, using datafusion of FLIRs, SLAR/JSTARS, EL-SIG-COM/INT etc will allow full throttle runs nailing anything located in a 8km wide strip. Nevertheless, the main interest is a pretty long loitering time capability : no less than 6 hours but preferably 8-10.

    ENGINES :
    ========
    A-26 began with 2x 2000HP and ended with 2x 2500HP.
    AJ-1 Savage had 2x 2400HP (and a 20kN turbojet) for a 5400k payload (and could fly faster than A-10).
    Old P&W R-2800 could do it with pistons
    Williams FJ44-4 has a 16kN thrust for a 295kg weight. . Honda HF-120 : 9.1kN/180kg
    – (optional?) Having a FJ-44 or two HF-120 over the wing (some Broncos seems to have been fit with some turbofan/turbojet or considered to be so)
    It’s clear that now we can build much lighter structures than in 1948 and so are engines
    PT6C-67A is capable of 1940HP while weighting only 190kg while R-2800-54 weighted 1073kg for 2100HP. 1948 Allison J-33 weighted 825.5kg, FJ44-4 weights 290kg
    => These are potential engines
    – A gearbox allowing to run the 2 propellers on a single engine is wishable.

    FEATURES
    ===========
    – It is wishable to be able to have STOL features on par with Bronco or Bréguet 941 in order to operate from LHDs the size of Mistral-class ones (199m) even at 0kts.
    – Bronco ultra-rugged terrain capability, ease of mainainance
    – Folding wings (optional) for storage purpose on CV/CVN/LHD/LHA…
    – Mostly Kevlar/Dynema/etc skin, at least under and enough to take hits from .308NATO. Note that there are helmets that can take 5.56AP point blank and .308AP @750m/s since 2015. No idea in which material they are built.
    – Cockpit+engines armour. Not sure that the titanium bath-tub used on A-10 would be the lightest solution nowadays. There are very interesting ceramics or mix ceramic/metal, I’ve also red about AR680 and AR800 steel that can take serious hits, whatabout using depleted uranium (most of MBT upgrades add a DU skin now). IMHO, there are lighter ways to get an armour able to withstand 23mm or maybe bigger hits.
    – May be done modular, the central fuselage could be switched for a cargo one thus allowing many other features, incl. civilian ones. Note that a cargo version of OV-10 was planned. As this asset is bigger and has much more payload, being modular can be very interesting. The configuration may even allow firefighting or a FSTARS (Fullton recovery system) for S&R job.
    – Weight may allow a BRS (ballistic recovery system)
    – As Dassault and Safran are seriously installing themselves in India, maybe this machine could be outsourced there. It seems possible to me to not go over €10M/unit, preferably less

    #### The main thing is that serious battlefield air-support, especially in cases of dissymmetric warfare, requires long loitering time, which neither jets nor rotary wings can provide. New AC-130 are derivatives from C-130J cost $150M (and C-130J a $120M), AH-64 cost $35-60M, EC-665 Tiger a mere €44M while some Hellfire or SDB-II cost $100-110k, this is absolutely ridiculous and I think that margins made by some builders must be impressive. I even highly think there are collusion between many missile-builders when, strangely, all laser beam-riding kits for 70mm rockets cost about $30k while the fire’n’Forget LOGIR was proposed at $5k but strangely, wasn’t dev’d by a private company but by US Navy laboratories. It might not be the only thing in this style : an Iron-Dome interceptor ranges 7km and costs, according to sources, $25-50k. ManPADS missiles are all around $50k or more and a Javelin ATGM is said costing $80k while any 40-50y old Milan or TOW costs at least $15k with a $1M+ launcher. Even the small Eryx costs $10k for a mere 600m range missile. It his high time that, we, in the EU, begin to be more regarding about our defence expenses in order to avoid the serious excesses that we can state at the US companies level.

    #### Such a concept would allow to get rid of gunship choppers and aircraft (AC-130) as much as CAS-fighters like A-10/Su-25 for a fraction of their prices/cost of use. It could perfectly participate a classic strike-pack, use any 200m flat-top ship, incl. customised Ro-Ros as aircraft-carrier as much as considering making floating airbase from army-engineers foldable floating bridges. (note that I have ideas on how to make a floating airbase capable to operate A400M for no more than €2bln and move it @20-25kts)

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