F-5A upgrade proposal

F-5A overview

Weight:
3.667 kg empty
2.812 kg max weapons load
1.787 kg fuel
5.966 kg combat takeoff (100% fuel, 6 AIM-9)
5.072 kg combat (50% fuel, 6 AIM-9)
9.333 kg max takeoff

(AIM-9 = 85,3 kg)

Dimensions:
14,38 m length
4,06 m height
7,7 m wingspan
15,79 m2 wing area

Engines:
2x J85-GE-13
2.720 lbf / 1.234 kgf dry thrust per engine
4.080 lbf / 1.851 kgf wet thrust per engine

Wing loading:
378 kg/m2 combat takeoff
321 kg/m2 combat

TWR:
0,62 combat takeoff
0,73 combat

Speed:
Mach 1,4 maximum
Mach 0,97 cruise

Weapons:
2 M39 cannons (280 rpg)
2 wingtip pylons
4 underwing pylons
1 fuselage pylon

Upgrades

Guns

F-5s two M39 cannons will be replaced by a single GIAT 30. M39 = 80,9 kg * 2, GIAT 30 = 120 kg, weight loss 41,8 kg.

Ammunition weight will stay the same albeit at reduced capacity.

Engines

Engines will be J85-GE-21B, same as used in the F-5E. Data is as follows:
Dry thrust: 3.500 lbf / 16 kN
Wet thrust: 5.000 lbf / 2.268 kgf

This will incur no change in weight.

IRST

PIRATE IRST will be added to facilitate night combat and BVR capability. Weight gain: 30 kg IRST + 25 kg processor unit = 55 kg total.

Countermeasures

BOP dispenser: 2 kg * 4

Flares: 0,215 kg * 78

Jammers: 0,7 kg * 38

Weight gain: 51,37 kg total (8 kg basic empty)

NOTE

Austere version (F-5A-A) will have no IRST and no countermeasures. Both versions will receive helmet mounted targeting sights for high off-bore engagement capability, as well as wing LERX for improved maneuverability.

F-5A-2 overview

Weight:
3.688 kg empty
1.787 kg fuel
6.042,8 kg combat takeoff
6.141,2 kg BVR combat takeoff
5.149,3 kg combat (50% fuel, 6 IRIS-T)
5.247,7 kg BVR combat (50% fuel, 2 IRIS-T, 4 MICA IR)

(IRIS-T = 87,4 kg, MICA IR = 112 kg)

Dimensions:
14,38 m length
4,06 m height
7,7 m wingspan
15,79 m2 wing area

Engines:
2x J85-GE-13
1.588 kgf dry thrust per engine
2.261 kgf wet thrust per engine

Wing loading:
383 kg/m2 combat takeoff
389 kg/m2 BVR combat takeoff
326 kg/m2 combat (50% fuel, 6 IRIS-T)
332 kg/m2 BVR combat (50% fuel, 2 IRIS-T, 4 MICA IR)

TWR: (4.522 kgf thrust)
0,75 combat takeoff
0,74 BVR combat takeoff
0,88 combat (50% fuel, 6 IRIS-T)
0,86 BVR combat (50% fuel, 2 IRIS-T, 4 MICA IR)

Weapons:
1 GIAT 30 cannon
2 wingtip pylons
4 underwing pylons
1 fuselage pylon

F-5A-A overview

Weight:
3.625 kg empty
2.812 kg max weapons load
1.787 kg fuel
5.924 kg combat takeoff (100% fuel, 6 AIM-9)
5.030 kg combat (50% fuel, 6 AIM-9)
9.291 kg max takeoff

(AIM-9 = 85,3 kg)

Dimensions:
14,38 m length
4,06 m height
7,7 m wingspan
15,79 m2 wing area

Engines:
2x J85-GE-13
1.588 kgf dry thrust per engine
2.261 kgf wet thrust per engine

Wing loading:
375 kg/m2 combat takeoff
319 kg/m2 combat

TWR: (4.522 kgf thrust)
0,76 combat takeoff
0,90 combat

Weapons:
1 GIAT 30 cannon
2 wingtip pylons
4 underwing pylons
1 fuselage pylon

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181 thoughts on “F-5A upgrade proposal

  1. I wonder if infantry could be transported by blimps across large distances. You could even put light tanks or APCs as well.

    The other thing I would recommend doing is mounting some large IRST apertures on blimps as a detection system.

    You could also try to build some decoy blimps as well that are cheap to try to get the enemy to waste fire on them.

    • “I wonder if infantry could be transported by blimps across large distances. You could even put light tanks or APCs as well. ”

      It would be possible. Might be more cost-effective than transport aircraft, though I imagine landing would be a problem (vehicles would also have to be carried underneath the blimp, similar to how it is done with transport helos).

      “The other thing I would recommend doing is mounting some large IRST apertures on blimps as a detection system. ”

      Yeah, and you could put lot of them underneath gondolas.

    • The problem with blimps is that they are very vulnerable and have limited cargo capacity. They are too slow, large, and defenseless to operate by themselves, and are an unnecessary burden on escorts. They stopped using them after WWI because of that.

      However, i do like the idea of a network of unmanned balloons with passive sensors creating a net of information that can be data-linked to defensive fighters (operating a net of balloons over enemy controlled territory would be impossible). This would overcome some of the limitations of passive sensors.

      • “The problem with blimps is that they are very vulnerable and have limited cargo capacity.”

        I’m not so sure about vulnerability. They are large, slow and easy to hit, but most of the blimp is a gas balloon, and unless it is something flammable in there, you need to punch an absurd number of holes in it for enough gas to leave in order to shoot it down. There is still a problem of wether engines and gondolas can be armored, though.

        “However, i do like the idea of a network of unmanned balloons with passive sensors creating a net of information that can be data-linked to defensive fighters”

        Aye, and while you say they would be vulnerable, some of them can reach 120.000 – 150.000 ft. S-300 and S-400 have a maximum altitude of cca 98.000 ft. They may still be vulnerable to fighters, though, but even there an AAM would have to climb some 55.000 – 100.000 ft.

      • Engine armor would just add mass, although weight distribution could be an issue. That and building a support structure around it.

        Gondolas, if you spread them evenly, I think moderate armor might be possible.

      • “The problem with blimps is that they are very vulnerable and have limited cargo capacity. They are too slow, large, and defenseless to operate by themselves, and are an unnecessary burden on escorts. They stopped using them after WWI because of that.”

        Not to AAMs, small warheads which would probably only perforate a couple of internal helium ballonets. Punching holes in the side is going to have little effect, some helium will escape but very slowly, the rest would rise to the top of the blimp. Don’t forget, they aren’t pressurised per se. Internal pressure will be only very slightly above the atmospheric. They don’t pop, explode, collapse or disintegrate. They would be most vulnerable to old fashioned flak, though unless N Korea is hiding some this has all but disappeared from the world’s orbat.

        A cannon run would cause plenty of problems, as it would on the 5 AWACS aircraft you’d need to buy, maintain and crew in order to replace one blimp. Saying that would you risk a combat aircraft within gun range of a CIWS equipped ship? Same principle, you’d keep them out of harms way in all but extreme situations. Goodyear have some experience of bulletholes in blimps. Apparently every redneck with a rifle takes potshots at them as the modern advertising models shift around the CONUS.

        Gondola and engines would be easy targets, though IR signature on electric engines is very low, the sun’s glare from the skin would drown them out. Is someone really going to program AAMs to target the gondola just in case they run into a blimp? So what if an engine does get taken out, would result in the dreaded 7 engine approach of B-52 lore.

        Clusterbomb over the top of one would be very effective now I come to think of it.

        As for cargo capacity some of the rigids could probably have rivaled an AN-124 if dedicated to cargo. The difference however is in how you define capacity. The capacity to lift huge or outsize items definitely belongs to the airship. Also the capacity to deliver it, sure an AN-124 could haul it to the nearest 10,000 foot runway but that might well be 300 miles from where you want it. Hybrids in the 500 tonne class are quite feasible, much cheaper to buy and run than any equivalent aircraft too.

        Most cargo aircraft are cubed out long before they reach their maximum tonnage.

        “However, i do like the idea of a network of unmanned balloons with passive sensors creating a net of information that can be data-linked to defensive fighters”

        Why just passive? JLENS uses light X band and VHF radars to first detect and then provide targetting for Patriot barreries and whatnot over a third of a million square miles. Stealth is no use against them, loiter time about a month. I’m guessing you could buy the weapons system for the fuel bill of the 5 sophisticated AWACS operating month in month out. Not to mention that you’d have 8 expensive radars sitting on a flight line somewhere rather than emitting.

      • “As for cargo capacity some of the rigids could probably have rivaled an AN-124 if dedicated to cargo. The difference however is in how you define capacity. The capacity to lift huge or outsize items definitely belongs to the airship. Also the capacity to deliver it, sure an AN-124 could haul it to the nearest 10,000 foot runway but that might well be 300 miles from where you want it. Hybrids in the 500 tonne class are quite feasible, much cheaper to buy and run than any equivalent aircraft too.”

        At least to companies have proposed hybrid airships with 1000 ton payloads that is about 3 times as much as much as the AN-225 and about 4 to 5 times more then the AN-124. The most interesting proposal I linked before: http://aeroscraft.com/technology-copy/4580412172 Aeroscraft, which also has a patent pending “CONTROL OF STATIC HEAVINESS (COSH)” ( http://aeroscraft.com/technology-copy/4580412172 ) system which permits the airships to vary it’s buoyancy almost like a submarine becoming heavier then air for landing and lighter then air for cruise. The company describes the system the following way: “Unlike other airships, the Aeroscraft is the only vehicle with COSH. COSH is an internal, patent-pending system that controls the vehicle’s buoyancy so that the vehicle is heavier-than-air during ground operations and lighter-than-air during flight. The COSH system compresses non-flammable helium into the helium pressure envelopes to allow the vehicle to manage buoyant lift similarly to submarine’s ballast management under water. COSH allows the Aeroscraft to act as a “flying submarine.” Also the Aeroscraft comes with air-cushions instead of classical landing gear which allows it to land anywhere even on water and thus deliver it’s cargo in the middle of nowhere and it has a cargo-bay with a volume at least 4 times the volume of the An-225.
        Basically because of the huge cargo-bay low fuel consumption due to being lighter then air during cruise and capacity to land anywhere where there is enough space, this think could make trucks obsolete even in civilized countries. Imagine small electric powered Aeroscraft delivering goods inside cities without worrying about traffic and with basically no pollution. They could even plug into the electric grid to recharge while unloading cargo.

      • Best way to take out a blimp would be a gun run from the top of the blimp (helium is lighter than air so it would escape). Bomb drop might work, but it will be harder than it sounds to get an accurate hit, although within a lethal radius, it might cause enough damage to down the airship. Even then, the gas loss would be slow enough that there would be time for the people on board to try to escape by parachute.

        For missiles, another consideration:
        – You could put much more potent jammers with the extra mass of the ship
        – You could also carry a lot more flares
        – Sheer size = more countermeasures

        So it’s mostly the gun and “dumb” weapons that you have to worry about like unguided bombs.

        I suppose it makes sense to have a few escorts then.

  2. On the note of infantry, this sounds like a much better idea then trying to land paratroopers. Blimps can carry more infantry/vehicles/supplies for any Blitzkrieg or perhaps to reinforce areas that need extra troops.

    • An 1000 ton payload Aeroscraft (see links I posted previously in comments to this topic) could land two squadrons (companies) of Leclercs anywhere where there is space.

  3. “I wan’t thinking skyhook, but rather a classic runway atop the Zeppelin. Alternatively, you could combine JATO and skyhook – Rafale flew as slow as 18 kts, and FLXs landing speed would be even lower than Rafale’s 50 kts, so landing would not be a problem, with Zeppelin’s maximum speeds >50 kts (at least for the FLX).”

    That would mean a very rigid airship, the helium container isn’t pressurised per se so you’d need a very rigid structure. Also the materials used for the helium bag wouldn’t take kindly to hot jet exhaust or Jato so you’d be lifting some form of ceramic or metal runway. There is a reason gondolas are always underslung, putting topweight on one of these would quickly make it unstable.

    Probably possible to lash some sort of runway between two classic cigar blimps, or design a hybrid which incorporated it, though you would end up using a lot of the load bearing capability

    The advantage of skyhook would be simplicity and weight. Also with vectored thrust engines a harrier could add it’s power to control the blimp. Say you designed the blimp to carry a large VHF radar at 12,000 feet along with plenty of aviation fuel. Piddly little electric motors that only allow 30 – 40kts or so powered by a turbine generator feeding from the carried aviation fuel. The skyhook system, no crane needed, just an attachment point, would add very little weight, 2 Cap harriers rendezvous and attach, plugging themselves into the onboard fuel via a standard AAR nozzle.

    The SHARs can then use their thrust vectoring to control the blimp, taking it up to 30,000 for better radar coverage and speed. Adding their onboard power generation to the blimp’s to increase the power output of the radar.

    It might be possible to do something akin to skyhook with an FLX, but I doubt it. Thinner air means higher landing speeds not less, it is akin to hot or high operations. The Jaguar for instance was a decent performer at sea level, rumour has it they only became airbourne in Kandahar due to the curvature of the earth. 🙂 Approach to a blimp at the lowest possible speed at altitude would mean high alpha, which would make any sort of skyhook system very difficult. Best bet would be matching the speed of the blimp, though this would lead to design compromises for a faster blimp.

    A hybrid could probably take off with aircraft attached. With SHARs though they would merely add to the lift for shorter range very heavy payloads, an FLX or similar would just be dead weight.

    Don’t think I’m obsessed with Harriers, it is the whole STOVL / VTOL equation that changes if you can loft a good amount of aviation fuel with the ability to dock an aircraft and carry it. No reason why some form of skyhook couldn’t latch onto an AW609 for instance, the aircraft merely matches speed a few tens of feet below the gondola and a crane slips in behind the rotors and latches on. Probably feasible.

    Instead of needing a large aircraft carrier and 24-48 aircraft to provide CAP and strike options, you could probably reduce this to between 12 and 16, ideally of similar types. Of these destroyers and frigates would be able to supply a couple each. Either short ranged from a purely skyhook launch or using the blimp. Would you even need an aircraft carrier?

    Carriers themselves are still based around the concept of the alpha strike, launching large number of aircraft a couple of times a day before retiring every few days to refuel and re-provision. The aircraft themselves might be multirole, but the escorts certainly aren’t. Say each tender could service three or four hybrid blimps. Changing between fire support / ciws, airbourne aircraft carrier / AEW , ASW and area air defence ( VLS launchers firing downwards!) would simply be a matter of changing the payload, something that an optimised John Glenn could easily accomplish.

    It would be fascinating to wargame this, not sure whether Command – Modern Naval supports blimps and hybrids but it could probably be hacked to give some idea…

    • “Also the materials used for the helium bag wouldn’t take kindly to hot jet exhaust or Jato so you’d be lifting some form of ceramic or metal runway.”

      Just a note here: JATO would be combined with skyhook, not runway.

      “The SHARs can then use their thrust vectoring to control the blimp, taking it up to 30,000 for better radar coverage and speed.”

      I’m not sure it is practical, as it would mean a lot of stress on aircraft themselves and on the skyhook.

      “Thinner air means higher landing speeds not less, it is akin to hot or high operations.”

      I know. But Hindenburg had maximum speed of 135 kph or 73 kts, which is several times higher than Rafale’s minimum speed. And 18 kts was achieved in dogfight against Mirage, so I don’t think it was very low altitude (hard deck is typically 10.000 ft, IIRC).

      “A hybrid could probably take off with aircraft attached. With SHARs though they would merely add to the lift for shorter range very heavy payloads, an FLX or similar would just be dead weight.”

      Another possibility is designing a special aircraft for blimp, it would not need landing gear or as much fuel as, say FLX, so it could be smaller. OTOH, VTOL system would still add performance penalties and reduce range, and in any case I need a good STOVL engine to start designing it – which is a problem, ’cause I’m not aware of one existing, unless I’m going to design an aircraft that will be used primarily for ground attack, and engines themselves are quite large.

      “Instead of needing a large aircraft carrier and 24-48 aircraft to provide CAP and strike options, you could probably reduce this to between 12 and 16, ideally of similar types.”

      Problem is that VTOL aircraft are quite vulnerable in strike missions, yet design compromises also mean that they are also very performance limited and vulnerable in air superiority missions as well. Neither Harrier or F-35 are sufficient for these purposes, being more-or-less dedicated strike aircraft in modern terms, so I’d have to design an aircraft for proposal myself, and I don’t have an adequate engine (or time right now, but time can be found sometime, engine I’m not sure about). Further, sortie rate will be limited due to maintenance issues connected to STOVL and, in F-35s case, stealth.

      “Would you even need an aircraft carrier? ”

      Yes, for CAS aircraft and STOL air superiority fighters. VTOL aircraft can be a huge help, but simply can’t really take over jobs of classical / STOL aircraft.

      • “I’m not sure it is practical, as it would mean a lot of stress on aircraft themselves and on the skyhook.”

        Not in the vertical, which would be the main point of thrust vectoring. Trying to put 20,000lbs though it wouldn’t be a good idea, though at idling speed I think a pegasus would still provide an order of magnitude more power than many of the engines typically carried by hybrids.

        “And 18 kts was achieved in dogfight against Mirage,”

        I’ve seen Su-27s and other types do 0 knts, only briefly though. 🙂

        “OTOH, VTOL system would still add performance penalties and reduce range, and in any case I need a good STOVL engine to start designing it – which is a problem”

        But that is the whole point of my endless waffling. You are still thinking of designing an aircraft with climb rate / payload / time on station and other characteristics. I’m thinking of this more as a weapons system.

        Think of it this way, you are designing a fighter with two mission profiles. One is to reach 10,000 feet with weapons and the minimum fuel to return to base if something goes wrong from a crane 50ft up ( no fod problems). The second profile is purely to intercept, starting from 20-30,000 rather than sea level. No loiter, CAP or payload, that is taken care of by the blimp. Say detection at 320 nm, all it has to do is intercept and potentially knife fight an adversary or 4 at whatever altitude and retire. No need for stealth, performance is the key here, hell if they didn’t pick up a 70m2 radar target and realise there might be a nasty dangling from it then they aren’t emitting at all and don’t read Jane’s enough.. Stupidity kills.

        As for the engine not existing, neither did the Pegasus. It was basically a mishmash of Orpheus and Olympus, indeed the original Pegasus had very similar thrust and characteristics to the Olympus. If there is a reason why a VTOL engine needs to be overly wide then I don’t know it – except to fit the planned fuselage. Afterburning with vectored thrust is possible ( PCB has been demonstated), but I’m thinking cheating a bit.

        In my minds eye I see it looking a lot more like a starfighter or F106 with a conical intake aka the Lightning than a Sea Harrier. No undercarriage, and not sure about internal weapons carriage, wouldn’t cause much drag at altitude and stealth isn’t an issue. With roll and pitch and yaw nozzles tailless might be a distinct possibility.

        Ideally, should the first interception fail, there should be time to send another ( or pair) after the same target before they get within striking distance of the blimp / forward base / strategic target / ship.They would launch for the blimp as soon as the first interception started.

        Hence the entire point I waffled about before waffling on… Those very same performance penalties and range problems are, I think, more than massively overcome and handsomely exceeded by the overall weapons system itself.

        The back of my fag packet is screaming less than 4 tonnes empty…. Considerably less if Jato were allowed, which is quite feasible from a crane system.

        “Yes, for CAS aircraft and STOL air superiority fighters.”

        Given your views on CAS, aka armoured tankbuster, no such airframe has ever been designed to fly from a carrier. Even the A-1 initially wasn’t armoured and would have struggled to scratch enough paint from a late model T34 to justify the tag. Luftwaffe went for well above 20mm for a reason….

        Also aircraft carriers are crap at CAS. Need too much searoom and CAP, never mind escorts, to risk close enough to an unfriendly shore to make the range / loiter / provisions / bring back equation stack up. This in the 60s before containerised Sunburns / AIP / untra devious mines. Alpha strikes are the Carrier’s trade in game.

        • “You are still thinking of designing an aircraft with climb rate / payload / time on station and other characteristics.”

          What’s the point of interceptors if they get shot down? If you wanted a close escort of blimp, they’d face the same problem as fighters escorting bombers in WWII – they would be very visible, easy to find and thus in danger of getting shot down. If you wanted them to intercept the enemy, again you want them to do so as far away from blimp as possible – you can’t really rely on blimp just soaking up missiles, and its size and relative lack of maneuverability would make it an ideal target. So you still need fighters that can catch and outfight the enemy.

          It has nothing to do with payload or time on station. It has to do with acceleration, cruise and top speeds and maneuverability though. What I’d want on blimps is something similar to Everest Riccioni’s Microfighter, small and highly agile fighter. Due to its small size and optimization for performance it wouldn’t have fuel necessary to perform like classical fighter, but would compensate for that with performing far better than classical fighters in actual air combat.

          “Given your views on CAS, aka armoured tankbuster, no such airframe has ever been designed to fly from a carrier”

          Primary CAS aircraft should ideally be an armored tankbuster. But if you look at my ALX and OLX proposals, ALX is primarily designed for CAS but can also perform as a FAC, while OLX is primarily FAC aircraft but can also carry out CAS duties. In COIN warfare, once you find the enemy you often don’t have the time to wait for even a supercruising hotrod to arrive, let alone a flying tank; you have to act now, and that is why OLX has armaments as well.

          I’m quite certain that P-47s did fly from a carrier a few times.

          “Alpha strikes are the Carrier’s trade in game.”

          You’d still need some type of CAS aircraft to effectively support amphibious landings. Though wether there will be amphibious landing is… questionable.

      • I don’t think the stress should be that much worse than a naval carrier, which has to essentially “hook” an aircraft (basically what amounts to a controlled crash).

        The issue with Thrust vectoring though is that it does exact a weight and maintenance penalty, the skyhook I think will work better, even if the airframe will have to be strengthened.

    • With some modification, Zero Length Launch might be possible for something like the FLX.

      Landing would be harder though.

  4. “You’d still need some type of CAS aircraft to effectively support amphibious landings. Though wether there will be amphibious landing is… questionable.”

    That’s the big issue.

    It could only ever happen at an undefended or lightly defended area, or you’ll have a repeat of the Dieppe raid.

    • “It could only ever happen at an undefended or lightly defended area, or you’ll have a repeat of the Dieppe raid.”

      That is the point of having an amphib capability, strategic mobility. I don’t think anyone has suggested storming a beach in an opposed landing in quite some time, with amphibs though you can stretch their defences as they have to cover the possibility.

      NGFS is far more important than CAS itself on such an occasion, though precision strike would be necessary. I do marvel at the American’s solution, an armoured $4 bilion cruiser with two 6″ guns.

      We had the right idea in the 20’s with the Insect class. 600 ton somewhat armoured shallow draft gun platforms which could be taken apart and transported by proper ships to wherever they were needed. Designed for rivers and inshore waters, they were considered to be very expendable. 80nm range cruisers are still only packing 2 6″ guns, and they won’t be risked up a river! You could probably get a similar effect with decomisioned tank turrents on top of a platform on stilts!

      Dieppe was a travesty in many ways. The paucity of naval assets assigned to soften up the area was laughable. Saying that it probably amounted to more than every single big gun carrying ship the RN currently has blazing away. Warfare may have changed but artillery hasn’t. A 4.5″ gun is remarkably similar in capability and effects then as now. The solution is not $4 billion cruisers or CAS though.

  5. “What I’d want on blimps is something similar to Everest Riccioni’s Microfighter, small and highly agile fighter. Due to its small size and optimization for performance it wouldn’t have fuel necessary to perform like classical fighter, but would compensate for that with performing far better than classical fighters in actual air combat.”

    Do you mean the microfighters designed to fit in the hold of a 747? Some images in the link below..

    http://www.modelflying.co.uk/forums/postings.asp?th=63223&p=2

    Something along those lines yes, though the primary constraint in that design was the tiny wingspan, 17 feet if I recall. Even the 104 was considerably wider then that.

    I suspect it would be very difficult to get a high altitude optimised fighter out of a truly tiny span. Such a microfighter would save in many areas, no need for radar, undercarriage ( not even a skid as it would be VTOL and designed for a crane assisted landing), fuel needed to get to height and fuel needed to get to wherever the blimp patrolled. I agree they would be targets, but I wouldn’t want them 200 miles behind the lines, as close to the FEBA as the local situation allowed. Skyhook cranes would be forward deployed so reinforcements close at hand. Hell if a microfighter did have to land somewhere inopportune then just send a crane or blimp to pick it up. 🙂 If a blimp was hit badly enough that it couldn’t make a controlled landing then you haven’t really lost that much. Worst case scenario would be slap a few patches and a new gondola on it.

    Given that a combat aircraft’s price appears to escalate at the square root of it’s weight, one could only speculate at the likely price. Unfortunately I think the added drag of larger AAMs is going to be quite a factor in a small, fast, airframe so might be limited to IR only unless recessed or internal is an option An Asraam on each winglet would be pretty awesome though.

    There isn’t any great reason to make them too tiny, The ability to take on a reasonable quantity of fuel to allow for a classical CAP mission would be beneficial, Light weight but with internal capacity, it’s not as though a 4 tonne fighter can drink enough fuel to matter in the wider scheme of things. At any rate it is tail weight and undercarriage which scale faster with empty weight than engine size. Undercarriage was one of the biggest design problems with the Harrier, the strange bicycle with outriggers took them years to master, when clearly a plane designed for rough strips would be more likely to sport wide wing mounted gear. Was simply too heavy though.

    “Primary CAS aircraft should ideally be an armored tankbuster. But if you look at my ALX and OLX proposals, ALX is primarily designed for CAS but can also perform as a FAC, while OLX is primarily FAC aircraft but can also carry out CAS duties. In COIN warfare, once you find the enemy you often don’t have the time to wait for even a supercruising hotrod to arrive, let alone a flying tank;”

    Which is why carriers concentrate on the inland targets, to enable amphibs and NGFS to get close enough. Even with a dash speed of 500kts an armoured CAS waiting on the catapult would take 24 minutes to arrive at the coast from a typical carrier with searoom. Too slow. The alternative is to cab rank them, but then you need CAP and you run out of airframe hours even before the physics preventing useful AAR from a deck bite you in the bum. Two cap + 2 CAS 24/7 = 48 airframes, a large carrier which still has a limited weapons and fuel load. Could sustain it for a few days, but aircraft start breaking and COD is problematic.

    Saying that your ALX bears quite a striking resemblance to the Grumman Nutcracker. Wouldn’t have to be VTOL, just able to fly slow enough at low alpha to make Skyhook viable, say 25-30kts.. Slightly uprated engines, bit of extra weight for the hydraulics…. Might be viable.

    • “Do you mean the microfighters designed to fit in the hold of a 747?”

      Yes.

      “Given that a combat aircraft’s price appears to escalate at the square root of it’s weight, one could only speculate at the likely price.”

      Actually, it is proportional to its weight, for a given complexity level. Heavier aircraft tend to be more complex, however.

      “Even with a dash speed of 500kts an armoured CAS waiting on the catapult would take 24 minutes to arrive at the coast from a typical carrier with searoom. Too slow.”

      True, though that is countered by the fact that a dedicated CAS aircraft will have very long loiter time. As in, several hours.

      “Wouldn’t have to be VTOL, just able to fly slow enough at low alpha to make Skyhook viable, say 25-30kts.. Slightly uprated engines, bit of extra weight for the hydraulics…. Might be viable.”

      FLX can fly that slow, ALX… probably not.

      • http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/529372.pdf

        Do mine eyes deceive me or could you fit a Pegasus in that design? Further forward than the F404 derivative, at the centre of gravity… Slightly bigger wing, larger intake, current afterburner position taken by fuel ( empty for takeoff) and maybe even 2 internal weapons bays or semi recessed at the rear, pitch yaw and roll nozzles, delete the skid…. T/W would be almost 2:1 even in strike configuration.

        Hmm.. Pegasus is quite a bit heavier, and thirsty, not ideal… Could do much better with 21st century tech.. Still…

        Say we can add another 1800lbs of fuel by moving the engine where the air intake is currently a void, another 600 in the tail and 600 extra in larger wings ( it does say the original design is limited by weight, not volume)

        New gross weight including PIRATE IRST 11820 with 4 X Mica IR. + original 2400lbs fuel.

        Point defence range from crane max thrust lo-lo-lo 60nm.

        Blimp range, 4 X Mica + 5400lbs fuel hi-lo-hi 4min combat, 10% reserve 382nm. ( very similar to original config with 2400lbs fuel so a bit low..)

        CAP hi-hi-hi 2 hours @ 100nm. ( this I think is a long way out)

        As usual, all underestimates. I’ve used Sea Harrier figures for the velocity and fuel consumption, The latter will be about right though this is clearly a much faster and more slippery aircraft, capable of at least Mach 2. It would probably be supercruising in the latter mission as cruise thrust is probably closer to military for the original engine.

        Be a tiny visual target, Nasty to knife fight.

        I suspect Picard’s figures will be closer to the mark!

        • “Further forward than the F404 derivative, at the centre of gravity…”

          That could create problems with nozzle exhaust… too far forward and aircraft becomes exceedingly vulnerable to older-style heat-seeking missiles.

          Other than that, I agree with most of it.

  6. Hmmm… Pegasus is just too damned thirsty.

    Two other options, modified F119, as fitted to the X-32 or more likely similar F118. Smaller engine, could probably squeeze more fuel in..

    With F118… gross weight 11,060 lb. Eliminating tail pipe, adding cold ( as on X-32 F-119) and hot ducts probably weight neutral. Still viable even if it added 1000lbs…

    Point defence range lo-lo-lo max thrust all the way 99nm

    Blimp range, 5400lbs, 4 X Mica 4 mins combat 10% reserve 666nm

    CAP hi-hi-hi @100nm 2hours 40mins.

    What were the stats for the FLX again? 🙂

    • I did a bit of the redesign for the FLX. I’m still not finished with calculus, but it basically moves landing gear outboard and increases internal fuel load.

      • Considering that the original Boeing study was a bit of a joke… The mental shenanigans used to select the Boeing 747 instead of a C-5 were almost amusing. This placed a massive design limit on the airframe, namely the wingspan and size of aperture it would have to fit through.

        Still it is the only ground up design for a crane based aircraft I’ve ever heard of, the Harrier of course had to have an undercarriage which caused immense problems.

        For those reasons alone it is a sub-optimal design, though it looks awesome!

        It does show though the immense contraints that something as simple as undercarriage puts on a design. Plenty of examples from history, the Me-109 had a famously naff design for instance. Ground clearance, sink rate, ability to withstand Catobar, positioning on fuselage or wings, complexity of hydraulics and hinged doors, emergency backup systems, weight and internal space used…. All have a large effect on the eventual design, which has a disproportionate effect on lighter fighters as the cube squared law vaguely operates.

        Hell the microfighter wouldn’t be viable with an undercarriage, though if you forget the internal space and other complications even adding the 1000+ lbs of weight has a huge effect.

        What do you think the cruise, military and max speeds at altitude would be for a sub 4 tonne microfighter with tiny cross section and 19,000lbs to play with Picard? I can only guess though some of the graphs on the design are certainly interesting… 300 to 600 kts in 5 seconds! Maybe it should have looked more like the X-43. 🙂

        X-36 layout would be very interesting too.

        • C-5s cargo hold is 37 meters long, 4,1 m high and 5,8 m wide. At these dimensions, it could hold 3 Microfighters if Microfighter’s size is constrainted to 11,5 x 5,6 x 4 m.

          “What do you think the cruise, military and max speeds at altitude would be for a sub 4 tonne microfighter with tiny cross section and 19,000lbs to play with Picard?”

          Can’t say without a finished design – probably better than the FLX, considering necessarily higher wing sweep. Anyway, I’d need M88 variant for Microfighter, I think that EJ200 is a wee bit too large. Besides, M88 is closer to a turbojet than EJ200, so without range, payload etc. requirements constraining the size and thus TWR with any single engine, it might be a better choice. Particularly M88-3 with 20.000 lbf of afterburning thrust might be a good choice.

          With close-coupled canards helping low-speed maneuverability, it would be able to both take off and land on a C-5.

  7. “That could create problems with nozzle exhaust… too far forward and aircraft becomes exceedingly vulnerable to older-style heat-seeking missiles.”

    That depends on which aspect the threat is from. If manpads then yes, the hot exhausts are clearly visible from the ground in a high wing design. If against a WVR Ir missile it is an advantage as banking or pulling G shrouds the visible exhaust under the wing. Saying that this is still preferable to a single hot tail pipe which is clearly visible on egress from any aspect in both scenarios…. It also means that half of your heat signature is blanked at any time. Modern imaging IR ones probably wouldn’t be easily fooled.

    In a low wing design though the opposite is true and would I think would be slightly preferable for manpads environments. The problem here is that rate of climb out of a bombing or strafing run is important, which would potentially expose a hot exhaust on egress.

    Then again we have seen a rapid change in the nature of exhaust nozzles for fighters. Thrust vectoring in at least one dimension is becoming more common place and the Harrier’s would not be state of the art today. There is the distinct possibility that nozzles could not just swivel but also provide lateral movement. Might help considerably with a tailless design, which I am very keen on for a microfighter. Tails cost weight and drag.

    I’m not sure about the physics for this but here’s the scenario. Low wing VSTOL ( think classic delta mirage for simplicity) finishes gun run and pulls out of dive, is targeted by manpads. Launch is detected either automatically ( F-35 supposedly has this) or visually and either closes the hot nozzle ( very problematic I think) or directs it linearly, towards the wingtip whilst a ceramic plate pops out from behind the nozzle ( a bit like an airbrake though it would be shielded from most airflow by the nozzle itself) blanking the heat source.

    This might be a recipe for a flat spin, though the hot nozzles will always be close to the CofG ( and there are pitch, yaw and roll nozzles which could help out) so would accelerate the airframe laterally. Not as in angularly via rubber but actually sideways. Now directing hot exhaust over the top of a wing would I think stall it, possibly resulting in an almighty side slip, a bank towards the threat and a pitch away pushing some negative G.

    For a high wing aircraft I think it would result in the nearside wing generating more lift ( a bit like blown flaps), plus the lateral acceleration and positive G alpha. Got to admit I wouldn’t want to be the test pilot.Or the chap programming the cray to work out the likely effects.

    Frankly whatever happened, if it was controllable at all, it would be very difficult for a rules based algorithm in the seeker head to follow, designed as they are for hot pipes at the tail of an aircraft and will largely assume conventional control. A bit like viffing laterally rather than horizontally. Would make formation flying a tadge nerveracking!

    Could be there are more advantages to having your exhaust close to the CofG than negatives.

    • “Saying that this is still preferable to a single hot tail pipe which is clearly visible on egress from any aspect in both scenarios….”

      Main threats nowadays are from the ground… and it is about damage location. Which is why I’m thinking about redesigning ALX as well, putting engines farther to the rear.

  8. @MIke

    Yeah I would agree, naval gunfire support is huge – and will be critical. The insect class looks like a good idea. A modern variant would be very good as well, especially when the tides are not favorable and as you’ve noted, in rivers. You’d want larger heavier guns in the rear as well – I think it’s worth investing in some cruiser sized vessels designed for naval gunfire support for this. It’s specialized yes, but it will make or break.

    I just gave Dieppe, because it is an example of literally everything done incorrectly for an amphibious assault. The position, the lack of surprise, no tanks, limited intelligence, limited naval gun support, and multiple other mistakes doomed that one.

    What would be your choice of landing craft? The issue I see is that an enemy will likely mine the beaches.

    • “What would be your choice of landing craft? The issue I see is that an enemy will likely mine the beaches.”

      Depends what you want to lift and how badly you want to lift it! Increasingly the USMC and other major amphibious powers are seeing themselves more as vertical envelopment from the sea rather than ship bourne infrantry rushing ashore saving private Ryan style, hence the V-22. This in itself is a tacit admission of the vulnerability of modern escorts to shore based defences.

      The Russian attitude to this appears to be, “Bring it on!”. They have large numbers of LSTs and LCAs, most of which seem to sport more CIWS than a RN destroyer. Not to mention huge hovercraft, which the USMC also favours. They either have great faith in their CIWS or little faith in the thousands of anti-ship missiles they’ve sold.

      At the end of the day you might be able to land troops by helicopter but you are still going to have to supply them by sea ( including supplying the helicopters, The LHAs, the carrier that protects them, the escorts that protect the carrier etc) so I’d don’t entirely follow the reasoning in forking out huge amounts of cash for air assets unless it is a luxury you can truly afford, as in you aren’t sacrificing boots for assets that are expensive in peacetime. The Russian Mistrals were more for attack helicopters than transports, and they know a lot about transport helos.

      There will always be an unprotected beach, and if there isn’t you’ve already done your job and can happily harass them at your leisure. Hence lots of LCAs and LCTs for my money backed up by dedicated NGFS. Call me a traditionalist but none of it breaks at inopportune times such as slightly inclement weather, which is exactly when you want to be operating. If a helicopter isn’t broken then it is merely because you haven’t looked at it long enough. CAS is great, as long as the weather is nice. The humble 6 inch and infantry never fail though.

      I do have more than a soft spot for the old R3 Tradewind, not so much because the thought of an airbourne LST was necessarily uber useful, more that large flying boats made excellent patrol, cargo and tanker aircraft. Infinite runway length is a very good thing. The Russians had similar ideas with their ecranoplans. The original proposal for the tradewind saw it unfurling a huge skirt and riding onto the beach as a hovercraft with 20mms blazing away at the ( presumably) single machine gun guarding it.

      The main problem with amphib operations historically was sea mines rather than mined beaches. The latter was possible, for a few high tides at most. Inchon for instance was delayed by weeks with the fleet sitting offshore because the Koreans had found a few fishing boats to dump mines over the side from. The mining operation around UK coastal waters in ww2 was impressively huge and little known, nor the sheer number of minesweepers the RN possessed even at the beginning of the war ( think we’re down to about 6 now). Hence the two should go hand in hand, but never seem to.

      LSTs and the like are very cheap assets and damnably useful for other things.

      • ” They either have great faith in their CIWS or little faith in the thousands of anti-ship missiles they’ve sold.”

        Or both. Guided weapons allow attacks on greater distances, but unguided tend to produce more hits per number of rounds fired. Basically, probability of a hit is inverse of maximum engagement range.

        What I’d want for amphibious landings are hovercraft capable of disembarking tanks. Invulnerable to sea mines (at least to most of them) and very fast.

    • I would agree with you. I’m closer to the Russian mentality than anything else, although you will want to sweep the area for mines. Massing CIWS seems like a smart thing to do.

      The Russians also have their wing-in-ground ekranoplanes and large hovercraft. I would agree that flying boats are viable.

      It might even be possible to mount some artillery on the large landing craft or hovercraft for direct fire support, on top of naval support. The crew operating though would have to be well protected.

      The issue I see with helicopters landing is not just keeping troops supplied, but their vulnerability. MANPADs are a huge threat. If people think that MANPADs are a threat to CAS – then they will be lethal vs rotary wing aircraft, especially the cargo kind.

      Mines are a good defense against such landings and after laying, which is why they get used. You’d want to sweep areas for mines (not just one area or it will be obvious to the enemy where you want to land). Either that or use all hovercraft and ekranoplanes (but it still might restrict naval craft that would otherwise be able to come closer).

      Any landing will want a full array of modern equals to Hobart’s Funnies.

      • One of the problems with modern amphibious operations is that they require cooperation between service arms, and are therefore a funding nightmare whenever the generals admirals and marshals go to war with each other.

        Who for instance should be responsible for minesweeping? You would think the Navy, but they operate far from the shore in most cases, out of secure ports. Hence in most situations they will supply some, though such a small tasking that it is barely worth the effort to maintain it. Gulf war was a good example, one USMC brigade offshore tied down 6 Iraqi divisions. They weren’t used because of the number of mines in the waters, and the Navy would have needed about 50 minesweepers to clear them, or most of them. The Navy had 6 in total. Hence the choice was to assault at maybe 20-30% casulaties or remain a force in being.

        Similar tale in the Falklands, though they did take along some tugs to operate as minesweepers there weren’t enough. Woodward ended up sending a frigate to manouvre round a bit in order to check for mines the hard way! Modern minesweepers are small, grp hulls with lots of expensive electronics on board. Not much use for anything but their intended role. Not much use for cocktail parties either.

        The other direct threats to an amphib operation are subs, aircraft, ASMs and the logistics and capability to build up a force on the beachhead faster than the opposition can oppose. Subs are clearly the Navy’s responsibility, but the threat is DE so SSNs are no use. Neither is a lot of your blue water ASW gear. Fancy operating an MPA 2 miles off a hostile coast? When a president or prime minister asks whether our nuclear deterrent is safe in blue water and the answer is no, he gets upset. If he did happen to ask whether the single rusty Kilo sitting off the coast of mongistan can be hit and the answer is no he isn’t quite as bothered.

        Air superiority is clearly the Air forces responsibility, but just as the Navy has to expend lots of airframe hours merely protecting their assets so too the air force is surprisingly limited in what it can do unless the bad guys come up to play. Airfields are tough targets.

        Detecting and prosecuting ASMs is clearly the Navy’s job when they are carried by surface ships or subs, but what when they are airbourne? What about land based? Detecting the latter requires sophisticated C3 which is most likely the airforce, prosecuting highly mobile batteries then requires inter service cooperation which is more fiction than reality.

        Last but not least is the part which the modern idea almost ignores. Landing troops is the easy part, you then have to supply them, reinforce them and prevent the enemy reinforcing their force. The latter requires pre-emptive deep strike on infrastructure and interdiction. The former requires ships, make the hovercraft as big as you like, the V-22s as numerous as you like, you still have to clear the mines and get rid of all other existential threats in order to supply your force.

        These ships have to be shallow draughts which can beach themselves, in other words the same vessels you left offshore away from threats whilst your V-22s, helicopters and hovercraft put troops ashore. Thing is there aren’t that many of them because all the money has been spent on stuff that flies. Helicopters answer some of the questions posed, but their expense in peacetime means that corners are cut elsewhere.

        “It might even be possible to mount some artillery on the large landing craft or hovercraft for direct fire support, on top of naval support. The crew operating though would have to be well protected.”

        They certainly did in WW2, trouble is the guns are used to being static on dry land so accuracy is quite an issue without the sort of stabilisers that naval mounts have. Especially on smaller craft. Again I like the Russian idea, main problem with rocket artillery is keeping it supplied on the battlefield. Not an issue on a 3000 tonne ship though.

        “What about a monitor with twin 16” turret?

        I do agree that CAS aircraft cannot replace naval gunfire, but the opposite holds true as well.”

        The problem with the big guns is that they were designed to pentrate armour belt. The bursting charge might be as low as 50lbs or 5% of the weight. Also they were designed for low angles, yes you can fire them at land targets a long way off but accuracy suffers as the shells often tumble and frankly the targets you’d need something that big for are probably better hit by aircraft. The thing which terrified the Germans wasn’t so much HMS Rodney taking out an entire battalion of Tigers at 30nm as they massed for an assault, but the weight of accurate fire that a 12 gun light cruiser could bring to bear and the rate of fire from a 4″ destroyer.

        A single land based 155 might manage 1 round per minute, a division might have 3 batteries ( actually of much lower calibre). One three gun turrent of a 6″ cruiser could overmatch this. Only the heaviest fortifications could withstand them, heavy field installations such as pill boxes would be shredded. Most naval turrets would hold 200-250 rounds per gun, which is the sort of arsenal that would take weeks or months to stockpile on land. The psychological effects are probably only understood by the Russians, who appear to have tested such things on their own troops. Shell shock is a real phenomena as many German troops on the eastern front would attest.

        Arguably the only successor to the Erebus class is the Zumwalt, which is…. very American. 14,000 tonnes to mount a couple of 6 inch guns is not progress! Saying that 80nm range certainly is. They wanted 32, they’ve built 3.

        The problem with Monitors in general is the same as the rest of the brown water navy, interservice cooperation and a single use platform that doesn’t specifically further the Navy’s goals or provide a general purpose platform. They are always needed, but in wartime when the core assets are shown to be lacking.

        Personally I think diesel subs and something akin to the Insect class are the answer. No reason why an SSK couldn’t mount a VLG, do it’s ASW and landing sneaky beaky types thing and then provide NGFS from the surface during an assault. I suspect the issue would be that all submarines have become so packed with sensitive kit that putting something that goes bang on them would upset the electronics.

        Small ships have mobility issues, especially ones designed for shallow water. Large ships have to be more general purpose to secure funding and can’t be everywhere at once.

        This is hardly beyond the wit of man but if you look at the various programmes that have been cancelled, 8inch mounts for the US Navy, replacing the 4.5s with 155s for the RN etc it is pretty clear that the problem is political and not technical.

        The US Congress mandated NGFS role for the US Navy stemmed from grown up congressmen who were on the beaches in the Pacific war. They knew the value from first hand experience but it doesn’t seem as though their efforts to retain the capability have come to much.

        Same with the RN. No history books analyse their secondary role of shore bombardment in the same way that they do strategic bombing yet it was arguably a more decisive capability.

        • “The problem with the big guns is that they were designed to pentrate armour belt. The bursting charge might be as low as 50lbs or 5% of the weight.”

          That is an issue of ammo. You’re talking AP rounds. During World War II, battleships had HE rounds with large bursting charge for use against soft targets such as air fields.

          “Also they were designed for low angles, yes you can fire them at land targets a long way off but accuracy suffers as the shells often tumble and frankly the targets you’d need something that big for are probably better hit by aircraft.”

          History has shown that air power is nowhere as destructive as naval gunfire (Vietnamese have said that USS Missouri (?) did more damage in 3-day bombardment of a single harbor than USAF did in two year strategic bombardment of Vietnam). BTW, you can fire at higher angles simply by reducing the charge and thus muzzle velocity. Or having comparably shorter guns than ones found on Iowa / Vanguard.

          “The problem with Monitors in general is the same as the rest of the brown water navy, interservice cooperation and a single use platform that doesn’t specifically further the Navy’s goals or provide a general purpose platform.”

          Indeed. Brown-water navy and any CAS/battlefield air interdiction duties should be controlled by the Army.

          “I suspect the issue would be that all submarines have become so packed with sensitive kit that putting something that goes bang on them would upset the electronics.”

          That is one part of a problem, yes. Another part is that there isn’t much room on submarines, so you could have only very limited ammunition for shore bombardments.

          “The US Congress mandated NGFS role for the US Navy stemmed from grown up congressmen who were on the beaches in the Pacific war. They knew the value from first hand experience but it doesn’t seem as though their efforts to retain the capability have come to much.”

          It is not a mission that Navy wants to do, just like Air Force does not want to do CAS. US Navy wants to prepare for a World War II blue-sea battle against Imperial Japanese Navy.

      • You’d have to have multiple LSTs to supply the forces that do land that have enough supplies for the campaign. That and you’d have to protect those forces from attack. It’s possible the enemy might let you go through and attack the soft skinned logistics vehicles.

        Supply by air would be cost prohibitive and likely capacity prohibitive. I don’t think helicopters are the answer. Vehicles need massive amounts of fuel for example and the helicopters capacity is constrained – plus the helicopters themselves are very maintenance intensive.

        HE-type ammo are available for naval gun support. I suppose a few AP rounds might be worth keeping (taking on enemy bunkers and fortified positions, although if you are talking battleship calibre guns, HE might do the job). You need both CAS and naval gunfire. That and it has to coordinate well with the ground forces. Then you have to keep everything supplied – fuel, ammo, parts, food, water, etc.

        I suspect one of the reasons why there is a Marine Corps is because of these interservice rivalries.

        • I think that airdrops via STOL airlifters are a better option for resupply than helicopters. Helicopters would be good as spotters for battleship gunfire if fixed-wing spotters are unavaliable, though.

      • “That is an issue of ammo. You’re talking AP rounds. During World War II, battleships had HE rounds with large bursting charge for use against soft targets such as air fields.”

        Even the HE rounds had a surprisingly low content.

        “BTW, you can fire at higher angles simply by reducing the charge and thus muzzle velocity. Or having comparably shorter guns than ones found on Iowa / Vanguard.”

        I know, but the sweet spot between weight of shell and range is around 8″, not 16.

        “That is one part of a problem, yes. Another part is that there isn’t much room on submarines, so you could have only very limited ammunition for shore bombardments.”

        Total VLG on the Zumwalts is around 300 tonnes, which is not a huge addition to the displacement of a sub. A matter of design, current designs minimise displacement for good reasons though a cheap patrol sub wouldn’t need to. For instance the Golf class 1950s diesel subs carried three IRBMs quite comfortably in a relatively small design.

        “HE-type ammo are available for naval gun support. I suppose a few AP rounds might be worth keeping (taking on enemy bunkers and fortified positions, although if you are talking battleship calibre guns, HE might do the job). You need both CAS and naval gunfire. That and it has to coordinate well with the ground forces. Then you have to keep everything supplied – fuel, ammo, parts, food, water, etc.”

        The advantage that offshore artillery has is best shown by HMS Rodney around D-day. She banged off her 120 rounds per gun to immense effect, sailed to Milford Haven, re-stocked and was back on the gun line a day later. Compare and contrast to the same 1000 tonnes of artillery shells which would have to be shipped to the crowded beach head and trucked to the arty positions. Much more tail to the logistics even if you discount the added firepower and protection of the battleship.

        “I think that airdrops via STOL airlifters are a better option for resupply than helicopters. Helicopters would be good as spotters for battleship gunfire if fixed-wing spotters are unavaliable, though.”

        The Americans tried this a few years ago on excercise in Northern Iraq. Took half their strategic transport fleet to keep a brigade sized force supplied. That half of their transport fleet is a decent percentage of the world’s total.

        “Supply by air would be cost prohibitive and likely capacity prohibitive. I don’t think helicopters are the answer. Vehicles need massive amounts of fuel for example and the helicopters capacity is constrained – plus the helicopters themselves are very maintenance intensive.”

        Exactly, and the reason the helicopters are preferred is because of the mine threat and the need to maintain air superiority anyway. Diminishing returns. You can land them by hovercraft or whatever means, you just can’t supply them unless you deal with the possibility of sea mines. This also dictates the amphibs staying further offshore, which decreases the effectiveness of NGFS, means you have to rely more on strike aircraft, increases the cost and maintenance effects….

        Maybe the answer is to have small landing craft that can double as minesweepers, nasty design compromise though.

        • “Total VLG on the Zumwalts is around 300 tonnes, which is not a huge addition to the displacement of a sub. A matter of design, current designs minimise displacement for good reasons though a cheap patrol sub wouldn’t need to. For instance the Golf class 1950s diesel subs carried three IRBMs quite comfortably in a relatively small design.”

          It’s less about displacemen and more about volume.

          “The Americans tried this a few years ago on excercise in Northern Iraq. Took half their strategic transport fleet to keep a brigade sized force supplied. That half of their transport fleet is a decent percentage of the world’s total.”

          Which means that slower, more vulnerable and far more capacity-limited helos have no hope in hell of keeping a brigade resupplied. Which means we’re back to trucks. And why strategic transport fleet? I don’t suggest lugging cargo all the way from CONUS or Europe.

      • “It’s less about displacemen and more about volume.”

        VLG is about 1200 m3 which isn’t small…

        Compared to a mid sized sub ( for instance the Golf) of 2500-3000 tonnes which is well north of 6000 m3.

        Data from the Golf because it already includes the space needed for IRBMs.

        Would be a considerable addition, and I’m not advocating the same design just bolted on, but not a deal breaker for a mid sized sub in volume terms.

        “And why strategic transport fleet? I don’t suggest lugging cargo all the way from CONUS or Europe.”

        Because it isn’t all about weight, transports are cubed or CoG’ed out long before they reach their tonnage in most instances. Hence for many items you need large aircraft.

  9. “For a high wing aircraft I think it would result in the nearside wing generating more lift ( a bit like blown flaps), plus the lateral acceleration and positive G alpha. Got to admit I wouldn’t want to be the test pilot.Or the chap programming the cray to work out the likely effects.”

    If you blow anything on the underside of a wing, you decrease lift. Bernoulli’s principle. The sum of the static and dynamic pressures is constant. So if you increase dynamic pressure by blowing something on the underside of the wing the static pressure decreases. Since Lift comes from the difference in static pressure bellow and above the wing (bigger on the underside and smaller on the upper-side) then by decreasing static pressure bellow the wing you decrease lift for that wing. If the effect is not similar for the other wing it will cause the aircraft to roll, it’s how ailerons work.

    • Would certainly be a banking effect of one type or another, though I’d want to see it in the flesh rather than theoretically. Does raise an interesting possibility as control surfaces are very expensive in design terms. The location, power and weight associated with the hydraulics to move ailerons etc. This would be a more significant cost in a very small fighter than a heavy one. If piping exhaust around the plane could help to augment or replace control surfaces then it might reduce weight, complexity and especially maintenance. I’d imagine it would have a more pronounced effect at altitude where the air itself is thinner ( 1/4 at 36,000) and therefore control surfaces less responsive. At low speeds and high angles of attack too.

      Yaw, pitch and roll nozzles were used on the rocket powered 104’s as their control surfaces had no authority above about 60,000 feet. Other than blown flaps ( either over or under) I’ve never heard of it being used though.

  10. “Does raise an interesting possibility as control surfaces are very expensive in design terms. The location, power and weight associated with the hydraulics to move ailerons etc. This would be a more significant cost in a very small fighter than a heavy one. If piping exhaust around the plane could help to augment or replace control surfaces then it might reduce weight, complexity and especially maintenance. ”

    You’re thinking hydraulics in terms of pre-fly-by-wire days. Today with fly-by-wire, commands are electrical, and actuators are contained units either electrical or electro-hydraulic. In any way since the F-16 there is no longer hydraulic piping. If the actuator has an hydraulic component then hydraulic battery and fluids are all contained on the actuator itself. Getting rid of hydraulics has shaved at least 1000 kg from the F-16, and Rafales often cited capability to carry it’s own weight and a half in weapons comes from this weight savings. On the other hand piping for exhaust would be much more heavier then for hydraulics, as it would have to resist high temperatures. So in conclusion you wouldn’t save weight by replacing current fly-by-wire controls with jet. On the contrary.

    • Quite recent but interesting…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAE_Systems_Demon

      http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/pictures-amp-video-british-team-proves-flapless-flight-with-demon-347894/

      “You’re thinking hydraulics in terms of pre-fly-by-wire days.”

      No, I’m thinking about hydraulics and moving parts in general. To move a part against supersonic flow takes strength, which means weight. Second biggest design weight penalty on all aircraft if my memory serves. A self contained hydraulics or electrical unit buried in the wings is still weight and space taken, all of which has to be maintained, powered and designed for. Most structural components are hollow or cutout anyway, so there isn’t necessarily a weight penalty at all. Nor would heat proofing be a big issue, if necessary you just cool the flow.

      A control system of equal authority which used no electrical or pneumatic inputs would clearly be a superior solution.

      It seems that Demon UAV has significantly greater authority from its fluidics than control surfaces…

      • Looks nice, but it is mentioned primarily in terms of stealth and wing size. Unlike U(C)AVs and airliners, fighter aircraft need to be capable of rapid change of flight state. I’m not sure it is achievable with blow system as of yet – Demon relied on TVC as well as blow system, and system is not yet tested at high angles of attack:
        >>The challenge for the FLAVIIR team will be to demonstrate that such a control system can deliver sufficient force throughout the aircraft envelope and especially at high angles of attack, where air flow over the wings is minimal.<<

        "It seems that Demon UAV has significantly greater authority from its fluidics than control surfaces…"

        I found no such statements in the article, but it's probably too early to tell anyway.

      • “Looks nice, but it is mentioned primarily in terms of stealth and wing size. Unlike U(C)AVs and airliners, fighter aircraft need to be capable of rapid change of flight state. I’m not sure it is achievable with blow system as of yet – Demon relied on TVC as well as blow system, and system is not yet tested at high angles of attack:”

        There are research papers that go into far more depth than newspaper or periodical articles. The TVC was also a blow system of fluidics rather than a mechanical vectoring, I’ve seen two references, one which claimed that pulses of air into the jet exhaust moved the column by 15 degrees and another 30 degrees.

        “I found no such statements in the article, but it’s probably too early to tell anyway.”

        Lots more to read than just the press releases. 🙂

      • @Mike
        BAe Daemon is a completely different proposition to what you were talking about. It dose not divert the whole thrust of the engine like you were proposing but only minute quantities that are used to shape the airflow around the aircraft. It dose not allow the aircraft to generate lateral velocity vectors like you were suggesting. It dose allow to have an aircraft perform classical maneuvers without any moving surfaces, but it also requires an air flow with as little turbulence as possible, because it controls the boundary lair conditions which if I recall only appears in laminar airflow . That is why it’s feasible only in cruise flight or in supersonic flight, where laminar air-flow is a prerequisite. It dose indeed offer an weight advantage over actuators but only for very high mach numbers, above mach 3 I believe.
        It is useless for high maneuverability transonic or even low supersonic aircraft as any maneuver in these regime creates turbulent air-flow, in fact turbulent air-flow, in the form of vortices, is desired for these aircraft as it increases maneuverability, Rafale for example has 4 different vortex generators (canards, chines for the canards, LEX for the wing and the delta wing itself ) which is what gives it the high agility it has. For such an aircraft “fluidic flight controls” are useless, unless it is used as a separate system for cruise flight only. Something like this is to be investigated as

  11. “Would certainly be a banking effect of one type or another, though I’d want to see it in the flesh rather than theoretically. ”

    That would probably be a very expensive wish as it would probably result in a crash. You might not like theory but this kind of theory confirmed thru hundreds of experiments is at the base of science and engineering. If established theory such as aerodynamics predicts an effect, then you can be sure that no experiment would contradict that prediction at most would just tweak it a little. In the case of what you are proposing, that is blowing a high speed, high debit jet under a wing, the effect would be uncontrollable roll and a small banking effect which would result in a sort of corkscrew.

  12. “Problem is how would such a system respond to airflow disturbances – vortex flows, stalls, unsteady flows etc.”

    By means of the GMABFFGG.

  13. ” That is why it’s feasible only in cruise flight or in supersonic flight, where laminar air-flow is a prerequisite. It dose indeed offer an weight advantage over actuators but only for very high mach numbers, above mach 3 I believe.”

    I don’t know which papers you are reading…. I’d be interested in the links though. Almost completely contrary to much of what I’ve read…

    “It is useless for high maneuverability transonic or even low supersonic aircraft as any maneuver in these regime creates turbulent air-flow, in fact turbulent air-flow, in the form of vortices, is desired for these aircraft as it increases maneuverability, Rafale for example has 4 different vortex generators (canards, chines for the canards, LEX for the wing and the delta wing itself ) which is what gives it the high agility it has. For such an aircraft “fluidic flight controls” are useless, unless it is used as a separate system for cruise flight only. Something like this is to be investigated as”

    You’ve missed the point, spectacularly so….

    For instance the Demon is a scale model of a UCAV, arguably an actual UCAV as some of the discussion is about weight and complexity scaling. They fitted normal elevators and ailerons of about 50% trailing edge length as well as CC surfaces for the rest. The design of the FTV surfaces is too constrained to be coincidence.

    It appears they underestimates the authority of the CC surfaces though, they could have been a quarter the actual length despite the angular moment being less than the traditional surfaces, as the gain over traditional surfaces was around 10 at higher speeds and considerably more at low. Without scaling efficiencies and partly using supplies from the local plumbing shop the full length traditional surfaces would have been more than 4 times heavier, and offer less authority.

    Also the idea that this is useless in vortex manafactured maneuvering is a strange one to my mind. Votex generators are designed to provide control surface authority at high angles of attack where flow separation occurs. Thus they are only designed to impact upon a small part of the overall length of those surfaces and generally only in one plane. Thus if you had an aircraft designed purely around votices you would not need full length control surfaces.

    You also assume that CC is incompatible with the latter, which might be an engineering challenge but isn’t necessarily true.

    Even if what you said were definitively true the idea that weight savings in a cruise profile would be useless is an interesting one, such profiles make up 90% of even a fighter’s airframe hours.

    • “Also the idea that this is useless in vortex manafactured maneuvering is a strange one to my mind. Votex generators are designed to provide control surface authority at high angles of attack where flow separation occurs. Thus they are only designed to impact upon a small part of the overall length of those surfaces and generally only in one plane. Thus if you had an aircraft designed purely around votices you would not need full length control surfaces.”

      Actually, wrong. Vortex generators are designed to prevent air flow separation from the wing, for two purposes: to improve lift and to prevent loss of control authority. Both are necessary to achieve high maneuverability required by modern fighter aircraft.

      • What Picard said to which I would like to add that preventing loss of control authority, is a side-effect, the main effect is increase in lift. Rafale for example I think is designed to generate Vortices at relatively low angles of attack specifically for the increase in lift to improve turn characteristics. Furthermore if you ever watched a Rafale perform you would have noticed that the Vortices don’t impact “a small part of the overall length of those surfaces and generally only in one plane.” but actually the whole length of the control surface, when it comes to the canards, and more the half of the wing control surfaces.
        Also you make a small confusion when it comes to control authority. This designates the capacity of a control surface to affect the state of the aircraft, i.e. initiate a maneuver. It has no baring on the capacity of the aircraft to carry out the maneuver. To carry out a maneuver the aircraft needs more then control authority it needs lift and thrust. This is where vortex generators come in. They provide the lift necessary to turn the aircraft, the fact that they increase control authority is just a very happy side effect. When you design an aircraft to be agile in combat you chose lift and vortices over obtaining the same control authority with lighter controls at the expense of lift. For supersonic maneuvering it’s a whole other story. Maneuvers in supersonic are more sedated then in subsonic and transonic. One dose not want the drag associated with high angles of attack or vortices because consequences might me catastrophic. So for supersonic flight vortices are not needed. Also in supersonic flight control authority becomes essential because to simply initiate a maneuver in supersonic is a very difficult task. So here the increase of control authority and reduction in weight of Fluidic controls is desired. For ground attack you want to carry as much payload as possible and don’t need high angle of attack maneuvers so again increase in control authority at the expense of weight is desired. So for transport aircraft.

        “I don’t know which papers you are reading…. I’d be interested in the links though. Almost completely contrary to much of what I’ve read…”

        You provided two commercial links. If you have some scientific articles please provide those. Fluidic controls is not my main area of interest and all I recall is from scientific articles I read years back, which I would have to dig hard to find again.

      • “You also assume that CC is incompatible with the latter, which might be an engineering challenge but isn’t necessarily true.”

        I didn’t said that. In fact I said: ” For such an aircraft “fluidic flight controls” are useless, unless it is used as a separate system for cruise flight only. Something like this is to be investigated as ” . Fluid flight controls have a regime at which they are better then classic control and it’s worth investigating if one can’t have an aircraft with multiple control systems each optimized for a specific flight regime.

        “Even if what you said were definitively true the idea that weight savings in a cruise profile would be useless is an interesting one, such profiles make up 90% of even a fighter’s airframe hours.” It doesn’t matter if a fighter spends only 0.1% of it’s airframe hours in combat conditions. Those are the conditions for which you design the fighter. Otherwise if you follow some technological wonders that give you some advantage for some flight regimes which might be a big sum of the aircraft life but are not critical to what the aircraft is designed to do you wind up with another F-35.
        To return to the case of the fighter: critical for what a fighter is supposed to do is maneuverability you don’t sacrifice that for cruise efficiency, even if it effects range. There are other ways to increase range (drop tanks, conformal tanks, increasing internal fuel volume by shifting internal volumes around, air refueling) which don’t affect agility.

      • Should have said, where flow separation would otherwise occur. Just a matter of tense….

        What we are talking about here is efficiency. A more efficient aircraft can carry less fuel and has less overall weight , which means greater range and more maneuverability. Positive feedback loop. Having a better pilot at the controls is one real world example of efficiency, there can be stark differences between the fuel a rookie brings back and an experienced pilot.

        I certainly don’t agree that the F-35 supports your argument. Quite the opposite, it is an example of a magnificently inefficient brick which is being asked to bend the laws of physics to produce an end result. It looks as though CC will allow more effective ailerons, which is increased maneuverability, not less.

        Interestingly the one big problem with CC is in landing, where high authority is needed whilst the engine is at idle. Proposed solutions are to provide an APU or an engine which bleeds off a reasonable flow even at idle. VTOL aircraft are the opposite, they land at high revs so could be very useful in this regard.

        This is all very recent and complex so I don’t think anyone is an instant expert!

        I’d be surprised if anyone saw negatives here though, even if a CC system was the same weight and gave the same authority the advantages in servicing ( no need for full teardowns to check hinges / actuators and fatigue, which is non trivial with large carbon fibre wings) would be massive enough to recommend it.

      • “This is all very recent and complex so I don’t think anyone is an instant expert!”

        Fist off all is not that recent. In my country the problem was worked on by prof. Elie Carafolie since the 50s. I have a colleague that was his PhD student and put a lot of work in using low-powered jets to obtain effects similar to canard or to increase wing lift and decrease wing loading of a very low span wing. Also blow flaps which where very popular in the 60s are another application of the same principle. The CC system is just another take on the system. which is still in its infancy and will have a lot of hurdles to pass before and after reaching technological maturity. The biggest of which will be maintenance. Blow flaps that I mentioned earlier where very popular in the 60s, most aircraft conceived back then had them, but they fell out of use because they where maintenance intensive. The CC system seams to have less piping but it still seems to me as being more maintenance intensive then an FBW actuator which can be changed in a matter of minutes. Where as an jet based system is part of the airframe.

        “Interestingly the one big problem with CC is in landing, where high authority is needed whilst the engine is at idle. Proposed solutions are to provide an APU or an engine which bleeds off a reasonable flow even at idle. VTOL aircraft are the opposite, they land at high revs so could be very useful in this regard.”

        This is an example of why this technology still needs to be investigated. Adding an APU just for landing undoes all of the weight advantages of using fluid controls.

  14. Just a thought on CIWS at altitude…

    Already discussed increased range, which could be significant in itself. The majority of SARH missiles would do little maneuvering against a blimp given it’s small velocity so the thinner air might provide a solution. Also active AAMs will, I think, fly a relatively predictable path, even given midcourse guidance, until their own active seeker lights up, which also provides an opportunity. With no last ditch defences other than decoys and jamming I’ve never heard of an AAM with pre-programmed terminal maneuvers.

    Fletchette rounds are very short ranged at sea level, a few hundreds of metres depending upon calibre. At altitude though I think the dispersion would be lower as well as the range being higher. Even a simple canister round might be effective. I suspect a gun with a decent calibre and rate of fire could put up a cloud of fletchettes large and wide enough that any incomming missile would have to fly through it. Even if the probability of an actual hit wasn’t high enough to justify it I wonder on the effect on the airflow over the missile’s winglets. They are designed for smooth air at altitude, a cloud of supersonic projectiles would cause massive turbulence in their wake which would probably defeat the onboard dumb flight programming.

    • That is one weak point of the blimp though – defense. Fletchette rounds so long as they blow up an incoming missile are good enough. I wonder if it would be practical to arm fighter jets with flechettes as some type of countermeasure or even for gun ammo (high muzzle velocity).

      Rotating ball turrets have historically proved vastly inferior to the fixed mounts of fighters – I think that having a few microfigher-type aircraft is a good idea.

      The other is that it will be hard for any incoming airplane to hit the blimp by surprise. It will have basically multiple crew and multiple IRSTs in all directions.

      • “Rotating ball turrets have historically proved vastly inferior to the fixed mounts of fighters – I think that having a few microfigher-type aircraft is a good idea.”

        Absolutely, but the weapons which I think would be effective against blimps are very short ranged. CIWS though might be a game changer. Noone seriously suggests putting advanced combat aircraft at risk using cannon runs or dumb bombs against CIWS armed ships. Given the pointlessness of any form of stealth for a blimp there is no reason not to have the radars fired up 24/7. Fire as many million dollar missiles at me as you like if a few hundred dollars worth of shells can take them out repeatedly.

      • I think so, although IRST may be a better option if you want to go passive.

        Active radar means a big target for Anti Radiation Missiles, although i guess with adequate coverage, the point is moot.

      • Big target for everything…

        The fact you can lift an AWACS quality radar, of more likely a VHF set means that nothing stealthy can sneak up. In fact stealth designs will show up better on a VHF set.

        For instance less than 5 tonnes gets you the JLENS sets, VHF out to 320nm and X-band fire control radar out to 150 which could be used to guide ship based SAMs, patriots etc. You wouldn’t really want to lift the control stations and crew, just offhand them to a ship via a microwave link ( which X-band AESAs can do too). If you are putting out that sort of power then a small CIWS radar or to isn’t going to make you any more visible.

        A 70m2 target or so is going to show up on opposition radars at their absolute max range, so no point hiding.

      • You would need a massive CIWS system.

        There may be one benefit to this. It may act like “barn door” drawing in all enemy fire towards taking down the airships.

        Anecdotal evidence from WWII, but when the Germans deployed their Tiger tanks, often the Tiger tanks would draw all incoming fire. This could allow some of the more clever commanders to try to take advantage of this.

        Battleships had this tendency in naval warfare as well.

      • “You would need a massive CIWS system.”

        Depends what you mean by massive… Also indirectly how large you make the blimp / hybrid.

        If you design a 10 ton capacity blimp for a 1 day loiter then it isn’t quite like an aircraft where a lower load will be efficient, you might as well pack it to the rafters. Most of the engine power will go counteracting the huge drag rather than the weight, which is supported by the helium.

        CIWS comes in all shapes and sizes, everything up to 114 and even 127mm could be considered CIWS, anything below 57mm most certainly, though there has been a marked reduction in weights in the last few years. Bofor’s 40Mk4 for instance is 2500kg, including quite a bit that you could strip off. There has only been a couple of CIWS systems deployed on aircraft, such as the tail gun on the B-52, though increasingly designers are putting them on much smaller surface ships. Hence the reduction in weight.

        Just how big a CIWS would depend upon the effectiveness and range at altitude, which isn’t something anyone has tested to the best of my knowledge. The tail gun on the 52 or the dual 23mm on the back end of several Russian bombers were to ward off enemy fighters on gun runs, not missiles.

        Even tanks are starting to get lightweight CIWS of various types which are in development in order to defeat incoming missiles,

        As many of the naval mounts are dual purpose I think they would clearly have a role to play. Something that could sit between a carrier and a hostile shore which had a good chance of detected and destroying shore based ASM batteries would be manna from heaven. If one allowed the searoom needed to be cut from 200nm to 50 it would have a huge effect on strike aircraft effectiveness and even design.

        12,500kg would buy you a Kashtan… I’d like to see anyone get past that!

        “There may be one benefit to this. It may act like “barn door” drawing in all enemy fire towards taking down the airships.”

        Exactly, make them unmanned and you really aren’t losing much even if it isn’t recoverable.The alternative would be putting hundreds of men in a frigate or destroyer in the way.

      • You would need several Kashtan systems – for full coverage in all directions (or whatever you are using).

        I bet though with some R&D, it might be possible to make it moderately lighter weight. There still needs to be a loading system and various other support, so at least somewhat manned may be needed.

        Another question is the estimated cost of the airship. How much per unit and how many to build? The economies of scale could work if you built a modest number of ships.

      • “You would need several Kashtan systems – for full coverage in all directions (or whatever you are using).”

        Kashtan would ex excessive, just the power requirmeents would kill the weight, though I think only one CIWS would provide enough cover provided it had sufficient train from the Gondola. Clearly you’d want to lighten them as much as possible

        “Another question is the estimated cost of the airship. How much per unit and how many to build? The economies of scale could work if you built a modest number of ships.”

        They aren’t fundamentally expensive. Commercially available Zeppelin NTs, which are a bit smaller than I’d envision, go for just north of $10 million. The HAV 304 with a gas lift of 20 tonnes, is reported to be about $40 million, though the aerodynanic lift would increase this. Considerably less than the equivalent aircraft, and much lower operating costs too.

        The money would go into integration of sensors and designing different gondolas for different loadouts.

        Say an AEW blimp using the two JLENS radars would easily fit into a HAV 304, with weight to spare. Manned you could fit control consoles and a permanent crew, unmanned you would need to design a microwave comms system between the blimp and a base station or ship. Radars wouldn’t be cheap but compared to an AWACS for which you’ll be paying north of $500 million and need several more airframes it’s a fairly stark choice.

        Designing one with skyhooks and a big fuel tank would be fairly trivial I think. Same for a transport version, the money there would go on procedures and operational testing. ASW would depend upon the sensor fit. MAD and sonobuoys, not terribly expensive. Could even take the entire sensor for of a Merlin or Seahawk easily, in fact these blimps would be a bit big. I wonder whether you could operated a towed passive array?

  15. A better upgrade would be the F-5G/F-20 Tigershark, since it had 60% more thrust than the F-5A through F-5E variants.

  16. @Mike

    I’d still recommend reducing relative signature where possible – having mostly passive sensors is good for that or only using radar for short bursts. If you are far enough from the front line, it still is possible to keep your thermal signature relatively low and if you have a lot of anti-radiation missiles (which the airship can carry a few of), then the enemy will be reluctant to turn on their active radar as it will give away their location as well.

    The other as you note is to put massive anti-missile systems, CIWS, perhaps flechette launchers, jammers, flares, and other countermeasures all over the airship.

    I’d prefer to use something cheap and expendable to get the enemy to waste their missiles on.

  17. Why not go with the F-5G/F-20 Tigershark instead? That fighter has the GE F404 engine, providing 60% MORE thrust than the two J85s in the F-5E. That gives you better TWR, better acceleration, better everything.

      • Picard,

        What is it you like about the F-5A vs. the more capable F-5E or the F-20? Though the F-5A would make a very good WVR fighter, it wouldn’t be good for use much beyond that.

        MarkyMark

        • It is cheap, simple and not too hard to maintain, and you can make it into an OK BVR fighter as well – just put in more powerful engine and IRST. That being said, F-20 with F414EPE would be a better choice.

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