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SkyLarc - Helicopter

Tada, new model

12k Polygons (of which 10k are just stuff you dont see :p)

Experimental Futuristing Flying, Gun Platform, got 2 Railguns, it makes a pair with my latest railgun tank .p

Sadly the shader ruins most of the details, i prefer the white version myself.. [link]
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Last and Final modification of my helicopter .. slighty higher polycount (18k) not really better, just different... think im done with helicopters for atleast several years ;)

Oh.. this model was swirling in my head, no sketches abused but maybe inspired by GDI and NOD aircrafts... not really however (i wonder how these helicopters with 2 rotors on the sides control?)

Im not sure they even need a tail-rotor, but somehow to me, a tail rotor is allways a good thing (helps to turn at the spot anyway :p)

If anyone knows where to get *free* as in, free beer sky images that have sky from *above* cloud level please tell me...
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Finally had some time to sketch out a couple of pictures. Definitely feeling the rustiness brought on by months of artistic inactive-ness.

Focusing most of my efforts on vehicles such as planes and tanks, which also gave me trouble due to the perspective, although they take less time to draw than a mech, if the perspective is done right.
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I'm working on progressively making my mental concept of the tank more sci-fi futuristic. As anything, concepts in art can only be refined by practice, so I started to practice starting with what I know a can't can look like, and making it more sci-fi looking with each successive drawing.

Tank 1:

Psuedo-Sci-Fi Main Battle Tank

Weight: 40-50-ish metric tons
Primary Armament:
-1x: 160-mm Smoothbore Short-Barrel Cannon.

Secondary Armament:
-1x 8 mm Coaxial Machine Gun
-1x .50 cal drone Machine Gun

Equiptment:
-2x Perimeter Defense Lasers
-1x EMP Anti-magnetic mine device
-Multi-spectrum Optics
-Smoke screen canisters

Armor:
-Cermatic Composite w/ Tandem-Reactive Armor plating.

This tank, in my mine, was designed for urban combat. It's lighter and smaller than many MBTs, and it's short barrel allow it to maneuver easier in tight city confines. The massive shortened barrel of the main gun is not accurate over longer distances, but this is irrelevant in urban combat. It's huge shells are designed more for leveling buildings and taking out infantry and Power-Armor.

The 2 PDLs allow the tank to shoot down personelle anti-tank rockets as long as they aren't fired too closed to the tank. And the EMP Anti-mine device sets off magnetic mines before they can harm the tank's underbelly.

Tank 2:

Railgun Tank
Weight: 70-ish metric tons
Primary Armament:
-1x: 80 mm Railgun.

Secondary Armament:
-4x Anti-Aircraft Missiles
-1x .50 cal Coaxial Machine Gun
-1x .50 cal drone Machine Gun

Equiptment:

-2x Perimeter Defense Lasers
-1x EMP Anti-magnetic mine device
-Multi-spectrum Optics
-Smoke screen canisters

Armor:
-Cermatic Composite w/ Diamond-Fiber Armor plating.

This is a big tank I imagined would be somewhat slower but has a powerful railgun to take out targets from very far away. It's almost a ballistic mobile artillery vehicle. The long rail-gun and massive weight of this tank prevents it from being a urban-fighting machine. It's best suited for open areas where it can take advantage of it's range.

The anti-aircraft missiles deter attack helicopters and other aerial attack vehicles, while the PDL protects it from anti-tank missiles and rockets.
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Officially known as the Thunderbolt III, this missile was more commonly known as the Screamin' Demon.

Designed in the days preceding the collapse of the Soviet Union the Thunderbolt was designed to lay waste to the Russian countryside without the need for explosive or nuclear weapons. The lack of such weapons made it possible to build (and theoretically use) such a weapon without breaking any specific weapons treaty.

The Thunderbolt was essentially a massive airbreathing rocket with a sharp tipped nose. It used the air rammed into its intakes to feed a combustion chamber powered by liquid hydrogen. Smaller rockets were used to propel the thunderbolt up to speed, and stored liquid oxygen was used to power it when it did not have the speed to force enough air into the engine.

The Thunderbolt carried no usual weapons. It's only means of attack were it's sharp wedge shaped nose and blinding speed. At velocities approaching Mach 3.5 (3.5 times the speed of sound) and flying low enough above the ground, the Thunderbolt produced shock waves of immense power.

These waves shattered glass, tore apart wood framed houses, deafened people miles away, and animal tests suggested it could kill people standing under the flight path via internal hemorrhaging.

Thirteen Thunderbolt missiles were built, but the project was canceled in 1997 by Senator Perkins who called the missile "A despicable weapon that preys upon noncombatants and provides no real military asset other than terror."

The program was quietly scuttled until 2009 when the remaining 11 missiles were rebuilt with cameras, smoother noses, and improved stealthiness to serve as reconnaissance aircraft. Their speed proved to be essential to the information gathered during the wars in Columbia in the 2010's and were never even detected. Even their sonic booms were quieted by coke-bottle body shaping and smoother noses.

The picture below depicts one of the earlier Thunderbolts on a performance test above the Atlantic ocean.

You know what's funny? I just really wanted to draw clouds. Anyways, the above is made up, though it is very informed by science and history. I also really had a hankering for crazy realistic weaponry. Gotta put my supersonic flow classes to use!

Photoshop CS2, 6 hours
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Boeing FA-18EF Aggressor top gun

An aggressor squadron is a squadron that is trained to act as an opposing force in military wargames. Aggressor squadrons use enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures to give a realistic simulation of air combat (as opposed to training against one's own forces). Since it is impractical to use actual enemy aircraft and equipment, surrogate aircraft are used to emulate potential adversaries. The US Navy and Marine Corps use the term "Adversary" to describe their similar squadrons. The first formal use of dissimilar aircraft for training was in 1968 by the Navy Fighter Weapons School (better known as "TOPGUN"), which used the A-4 Skyhawk to simulate the performance of the MiG-17. The success of formalized Dissimilar air combat training (DACT) led to transition of Navy Instrument Training Squadrons equipped with the A-4 into Adversary Squadrons at each master[clarification needed] jet base. The USAF followed suit with their first Aggressor squadrons at Nellis AFB equipped with the readily available T-38 Talon.

Aggressor aircraft used in the United States
An F-14A Tomcat aircraft from the Navy Fighter Weapons School painted to resemble an Iranian F-14.

US aggressor squadrons fly small and low-wing loaded fighters that are used to represent those of the potential adversaries. Originally Douglas A-4s (US Navy) and Northrop F-5s (US Navy, Marines, and Air Force) were flown. The Navy and Marine Corps briefly operated 2 squadrons of F-21 Kfir Adversaries at NAS Oceana {VF-43} and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (VMFT-401). These were eventually supplemented by early-model F/A-18As (US Navy) and specially built F-16Ns (for the US Navy) and F-16A models for the Air Force). Starting at the end of 2005, the USAF has started using the larger and faster F-15 Eagle as an aggressor aircraft alongside the F-16 at Nellis Air Force Base. Nellis will soon receive a total of 24 Eagles to be used in adversary training.

Foreign aircraft have been used as aggressors in the United States, most notably the Israeli Kfir fighter, designated F-21 in its use as an adversary asset. Russian MiG-17s, 21s, and 23s have also been flown by the US Air Force as Aggressors over the Nellis ranges, under the Constant Peg[1] program. The US Army operates eleven Russian aircraft[2] for adversary training, including Mi-24 Hinds, Mi-8 Hips, Mi-2 Hoplites, and An-2 Colts.
Three F-5E Tiger II from the 527th Tactical Fighter Training Aggressor Squadron.

German MiG-29 aircraft were regular visitors to the United States before being sold to Poland and participated in valuable DACT training at Nellis AFB as well as NAS Key West in addition to providing dets to overseas locations or hosting US squadrons in Germany. One MiG-29 was loaned to the US for evaluation providing insight in the threat technology.

While aircraft used for the aggressor role are usually older jet fighters, this has not always been the case. During the mid-1980s, the US Navy determined that the A-4s and F-5s flown at Top Gun were not adequate in simulating the air-to-air capabilities of the newest Russian fighters such as the MiG-29 and Su27. At this point, the U.S. Navy held a competition for an adversary platform that could viably represent fourth-generation fighter threats embodied by the MiG-29, Su-27 and the Mirage 2000. The competing airframes were the General Dynamics F-16C Falcon and the Northrop F-20 Tigershark. According to George Hall's "Top Gun", many instructors at the Navy Fighter Weapons School preferred that the Navy procure the F-20. One reason given being the similarity to the F-5E Tiger aircraft already used by Top Gun and the four active duty adversary squadrons (VF-43, VF-45, VF-126, and VFA-127). However, General Dynamics priced the Falcon for the Navy at below cost. The F-16C won the competition and the F-20 failed to win another order, which when compounded with other lost contracts, led to the demise of the F-20 program and the elimination of one more competitor for the F-16 in the worldwide fighter market. The F-16C as procured by the Navy was equipped with the lighter AN/APG-63 radar set as flown in the F-16A, was devoid of the M-61 Vulcan gun system, had a titanium vice steel wing spar as in other F-16s, and had twin lens pods on both sides of the intake to enlarge the relatively small radar cross section of the F-16. Any equipment not necessary for visual-range aerial combat was removed, enhancing their agility and dogfighting abilities. These F-16s were designated F-16N, and twenty-two single seat aircraft and four twin seat, designated the TF-16N, were built for the US Navy and flown at its famous "TOPGUN" Navy Fighter Weapons School starting in 1987 as well as with VF-43, VF-45 and VF-126, which were still active duty Adversary squadrons at the time. Despite the Airframe being strengthened to cope with the continuous high-G loads associated with air combat manoeuvring, cracks were detected on the wings after only a few years of operation, leading to grounding of the Navy F-16 fleet by 1992 and complete retirement of the F-16N by 1994.[3] In 2002 the Navy began to receive fourteen F-16A and F-16B models from AMARC at Davis-Monthan AFB that were brand new aircraft originally intended for Pakistan, but had been embargoed. All 14 are operated by NSAWC for use by TOPGUN ion addition to the F/A-18A aircraft already in operation at NAS Fallon.

Aggressor aircraft in the United States are typically painted in colorful camouflage schemes, matching the colors of many Russian aircraft and contrasting with the gray colors used in most operational US combat aircraft. Camouflage schemes that consist of many shades of blue (similar to those used in Sukhoi fighters) or of green and mostly-light brown (similar to the colors used in many Middle Eastern countries' combat aircraft) are most common.
[edit] US Squadrons
Some US aggressor camouflage schemes emulate Russian markings, such as the multiple shades of blue and gray on this US Navy F/A-18.

Aggressor squadrons in the US armed forces include the USAF 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson AFB, the 64th and 65th Aggressor Squadrons at Nellis AFB, the US Marine Corps' VMFT-401 at MCAS Yuma and the US Navy's VFC-12 at NAS Oceana, VFC-13 at NAS Fallon and VFC-111 at NAS Key West, as well as the famous "TOPGUN" Naval Fighter Weapons School (US Navy) which is not a squadron per se, but operates F-16A and F/A-18A/B/E/F aircraft as part of the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) at NAS Fallon. With the exception of the NSAWC aircraft, all the US Navy and US Marine Corps adversary squadrons are Reserve Component units and aircraft belonging to the Navy Reserve and the Marine Corps Reserve.

The USAF also operated Aggressor squadrons in the UK and in the Philippines. The 527 AS was a USAFE unit that first operated out of the former RAF Alconbury near Cambridge, England, then later from the former RAF Bentwaters near Ipswich. The 527th initially flew F-5s, then later switched to F-16s; and trained over the North Sea and in Germany, Spain and Italy. The PACAF counterpart, the 26th Training Aggressor Squadron, operated F-5s out of the former Clark Air Base near Angeles City, Philippines.
[edit] Canada

The Canadian Forces Air Command operated CF-5 (both single- and two-seat) aircraft in the "adversary" role, by 419 Squadron at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Alberta. These wore quasi-Warsaw Pact colours similar to those worn by USAF/USN aircraft. This role ended with the retirement of the CF-5 in 1995.

414 Squadron operated the CF-100, CT-133, CC-117 and EF-101 in the electronic warfare (EW) adversary role from CFB North Bay, Ontario, until 2002. The squadron re-formed in 2009, again in the EW adversary role, based at Gatineau Airport, Quebec, flying ex-Luftwaffe Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets owned by civilian contractor Top Aces Consulting.

Fleet support squadrons VU-32 and VU-33 sometimes filled an adversary role, using their CT-133's to simulate sea-skimming missiles, such as the Exocet, for the Canadian Forces Maritime Command's vessels.
[edit] Private / outsourced aggressors

Some aggressor missions do not require dogfighting, but instead involve flying relatively simple profiles to test the target acquisition and tracking capabilities of radars, missiles, and aircraft. Some of these missions are outsourced to private companies that operate ex-military jets or small business jets in the aggressor role. Such aircraft include the L39, Alpha Jet, Hawker Hunter, Saab Draken, Kfir, A-4 Skyhawk, and various models of Lear Jets. Most pilots who fly for these companies have experience flying combat aircraft. Examples of such companies include ATAC USA, Top Aces Combat Support (TACS), Advanced Training Systems International, and Hawker Hunter Aviation.
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A-4 Skyhawk

The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was an American attack aircraft originally designed to operate from United States Navy aircraft carriers. The aircraft was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Corporation (later McDonnell Douglas) and was originally designated the A4D under the US Navy's pre-1962 designation system.

Fifty years after the aircraft's first flight, and having played key roles in Vietnam, the Falklands and Yom Kippur wars, some of the nearly 3,000 Skyhawks produced remain in service with several air arms around the world, including active duty on a carrier.

Design and development

The Skyhawk was designed by Douglas' Ed Heinemann in response to a US Navy call for a jet-powered attack aircraft to replace the A-1 Skyraider. Heinemann opted for a design that would minimize size, weight and complexity. The result was an aircraft that weighed only half of the Navy's specification and had a wing so compact that it did not need to be folded for carrier stowage. The diminutive Skyhawk soon received the nicknames "Scooter," "Bantam Bomber", "Tinker Toy Bomber", and, on account of its nimble performance, "Heinemann's Hot-Rod".
The XA4D-1 prototype in 1954
The XA4D-1 prototype in 1954

The aircraft is of conventional post-World War II design, with a low-mounted delta wing, tricycle undercarriage, and a single turbojet engine in the rear fuselage, with intakes on the fuselage sides. The tail is of cruciform design, with the horizontal stabilizer mounted above the fuselage. Armament consisted of two 20 mm Colt Mk 12 cannon, one in each wing root, with 200 rounds per gun, plus a large variety of bombs, rockets and missiles carried on a hardpoint under the fuselage centerline and hardpoints under each wing (originally one per wing, later two).
The second production A4D-1
The second production A4D-1

The design of the A-4 is a good example of the virtues of simplicity. The choice of a delta wing, for example, combined speed and maneuverability with a large fuel capacity and small overall size, thus not requiring folding wings, albeit at the expense of cruising efficiency. The leading edge slats are designed to drop automatically at the appropriate speed by gravity and air pressure, saving weight and space by omitting actuation motors and switches. Similarly the main undercarriage did not penetrate the main wing spar, designed so that when retracted only the wheel itself was inside the wing and the undercarriage struts were housed in a fairing below the wing. The wing structure itself could be lighter with the same overall strength and the absence of a wing folding mechanism further reduced weight. This is the opposite of what can often happen in aircraft design where a small weight increase in one area leads to a compounding increase in weight in other areas to compensate, leading to the need for more powerful, heavier engines and so on in a cycle.[1][2][3]
A4D-2 refueling a F8U-1P
A4D-2 refueling a F8U-1P

The A-4 pioneered the concept of "buddy" self air-to-air refueling. This allows the aircraft to supply others of the same type, eliminating the need of dedicated tanker aircraft - a particular advantage for small air arms or when operating in remote locations. A designated supply A-4 would mount a center-mounted "buddy store", a large external fuel tank with a hose reel in the aft section and an extensible drogue refueling bucket. This aircraft was fuelled up without armament and launched first. Attack aircraft would be armed to the maximum and given just enough fuel allowable by maximum take-off weight limits. Once airborne, they would then proceed to top up their fuel tanks from the tanker using the A-4's fixed re-fueling probe on the starboard side of the aircraft nose. They could then sortie with both full armament and fuel loads. While rarely used in US service since the KA-3 Skywarrior tanker became available, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet includes this capability, with a view to the imminent retirement of dedicated tankers.
Thermal cockpit shield for nuclear weapons' delivery
Thermal cockpit shield for nuclear weapons' delivery

The A-4 was also designed to be able to make an emergency landing, in the event of a hydraulic failure, on the two drop tanks nearly always carried by these planes. Such landings resulted in only minor damage to the nose of the aircraft which could be repaired in less than an hour. Ed Heinemann is credited with having a large "K.I.S.S." sign put up on the wall of the drawing office when the aircraft was being designed. Whether this is true, the A-4 certainly is a shining example of the application of that principle to aircraft design.

The Navy issued a contract for the type on 12 June 1952, and the first prototype first flew on 22 June 1954. Deliveries to Navy and US Marine Corps squadrons commenced in late 1956.

The Skyhawk remained in production until 1979, with a total of 2,960 aircraft built, including 555 two-seat trainers.

[edit] Operational history

[edit] United States

The Skyhawk proved to be one of the most popular US naval aircraft exports of the postwar era. Due to its small size, it could be operated from the older, smaller World War II-era aircraft carriers still used by many smaller navies during the 1960s. These older ships were often unable to accommodate newer USN fighters such as the F-4 Phantom II and F-8 Crusader, which were faster and more capable than the A-4, but significantly larger and heavier than older naval fighters.

The US Navy began removing the aircraft from its front line squadrons in 1967, with the last retiring in 1975.
A US Navy TA-4J Skyhawk of TW-3 on the deck of USS Lexington, 1989
A US Navy TA-4J Skyhawk of TW-3 on the deck of USS Lexington, 1989

The Marines would pass on the Navy's replacement, the A-7 Corsair II, instead keeping Skyhawks in service, and ordering the new A-4M. The last USMC Skyhawk was delivered in 1979, and were used until the mid-1980s before they were replaced by the equally small, but more versatile STOVL AV-8 Harrier II.

The Diamondbacks of VMA-131,Marine Aircraft Group 49 retired their last four OA-4Ms on 22 June 1994. LtCol. George "Eagle" Lake III (CO), Major John "Baja" Rufo (XO), Captain Dave "Yoda" Hurston and Major Mike "Struts" Volland flew a final official USMC A-4 sortie during the A-4 Standdown Ceremony. Trainer versions of the Skyhawk remained in Navy service, however, finding a new lease on life with the advent of adversary training, where the nimble A-4 was used as a stand-in for the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 in dissimilar air combat training (DACT). It served in that role until 1999.

The A-4's nimble performance also made it suitable to replace the F-4 Phantom II when the Navy downsized their aircraft for the Blue Angels demonstration team until the availability of the F/A-18 Hornet in the 1980s. The last US Navy Skyhawks, TA-4J models belonging to composite squadron VC-8, remained in military use for target-towing and as adversary aircraft for combat training at Naval Air Station Roosevelt Roads. They were officially retired on 3 May 2003.

Skyhawks were well loved by their crews for being tough and agile. These attributes, along with its low purchase and operating cost as well as easy maintenance, have contributed to the popularity of the A-4 with American and international armed forces. Besides the US, at least three other nations used A-4 Skyhawks in combat.

[edit] Vietnam War
VA-146 A-4Cs over the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964.
VA-146 A-4Cs over the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964.

Skyhawks were the Navy's primary light bomber over North Vietnam during the early years of the Vietnam War while the USAF was flying the supersonic F-105 Thunderchief. They would be supplanted by the A-7 Corsair II in the Navy light bomber role. Skyhawks carried out some of the first air strikes by the US during the conflict and a Marine Skyhawk is believed to have dropped the last US bombs on the country. Notable naval aviators who flew the Skyhawk included LCdr. Everett Alvarez Jr., Cdr. John McCain, and Vice Admiral James Stockdale. On 1 May 1967, an A-4C Skyhawk piloted by LCDR Theodore R. Swartz of VA-76 aboard the carrier USS Bon Homme Richard, shot down a Soviet-built Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 with an unguided Zuni rocket in the Skyhawk's only air-to-air victory of the war.[4]

The first loss of an A-4 occurred on 5 August 1964, when LTJG Alvarez, of VA-144 aboard the USS Constellation, was shot down while attacking enemy torpedo boats in North Vietnam. Alvarez safely ejected after being hit by AAA fire, and became the first US Naval POW of the war; he was released as a POW on 12 February 1973. The last A-4 to be lost in the Vietnam War occurred on 26 September 1972, when USMC pilot Capt. James P. Walsh, VMA-211, flying from his land base at Bien Hoa, South Vietnam, was hit by ground fire near An Loc. An Loc was one of the few remaining hotly contested areas during this time period, and Capt. Walsh was providing close air support (CAS) for ground troops in contact (land battle/fire fight) when his A-4 was hit, catching fire, forcing him to eject. Rescue units were sent, but the SAR helicopter was damaged by enemy ground fire, and forced to withdraw. Capt. Walsh, after safely ejecting, had landed within NVA (North Vietnamese Army) positions, and had become a POW as soon as his feet had touched the ground. Capt. Walsh was the last US Marine to be taken prisoner during the war, and was released as a POW on 12 February 1973.
Armed A-4Fs on the USS Hancock in 1972
Armed A-4Fs on the USS Hancock in 1972

During the war, 362 A-4/TA-4F Skyhawks were lost to all causes. The US Navy lost 271 A-4s, the US Marine Corps lost 81 A-4s and ten TA-4Fs. A total of 32 A-4s were lost to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and one A-4 was lost in aerial combat to a MiG-17 on 25 April 1967.

On 29 July 1967, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CV-59) was conducting combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. A Zuni rocket misfired, knocking off an external tank on an A-4. Fuel from the leaking tank caught fire creating a massive conflagration that burned for hours, killing 134 sailors, and injuring 161. (See 1967 USS Forrestal fire.)

[edit] Training/Adversary role

The A-4 Skyhawk was introduced to a training role in the two-seat TA-4J configuration replacing the TF-9J Cougar as the advanced jet trainer The TA-4J served as the advanced jet trainer in white and orange markings for decades until being replaced by the T-45 Goshawk. Additional TA-4J Skyhawks were assigned to Instrument Training RAGs at all the Navy master jet bases under RCVW-12 and RCVW-4. The Instrument RAGs initially provided jet transition training for Naval Aviators during the time period when Naval Aviation still had a great number of propellor driven aircraft and also provided annual instrument training and check rides for Naval Aviators. The assigned TA-4J models were installed with collapsable hoods so the aviator under training had to demonstrate instrument flying skills without any outside reference. These units were VF-126 at NAS Miramar, VA-127 (later VFA-127) at NAS Lemoore, VF-43 at NAS Oceana and VA-45 (later VF-45) at NAS Key West.
VF-126 Adversary A-4M Skyhawks at NAS Miramar in 1993.
VF-126 Adversary A-4M Skyhawks at NAS Miramar in 1993.

Additional single-seat A-4 Skyhawks were also assigned to composite squadrons (VC) worldwide to provide training and other services to deployed units. There were VC-1 at NAS Barber's Point, VC-2 at NAS Miramar, VC-5 at Cubi point, Republic of Philippines, VC-8 at NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, VC-10 at Guantanamo bay, Cuba, VC-12 (later VFC-12) at NAS Oceana and VC-13 at NAS Miramar.

With renewed emphasis on Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) training brought on with the establishment of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) in 1968, the availability of A-4 Skyhawks in both the Instrument RAGs and Composite Squadrons at the Master Jet Bases presented a ready resource of the nimble Skyhawks that had become the TOPGUN preferred surrogate for the MiG-17. At the time, the F-4 Phantom was just being exploited to its full potential as a fighter and had not performed as well as expected against the smaller North Vietnamese MiG-17 and MiG-21 opponents. TOPGUN introduced the notion of dissimilar air combat training (DACT) using the A-4E in the striped "Mongoose" configuration with fixed slats.

The small size of the Skyhawk and superb low speed handling in the hands of a well trained aviator made it ideal to teach fleet aviators the finer points of DACT. The squadrons eventually began to display vivid threat type paint schemes signifying their transition into the primary role of Adversary training. To better perform the Adversary role, single-seat A-4E and F models were introduced into the role, but the ultimate Skyhawk was the "Super Fox," which was equipped with the uprated J52-P-408 engine similar to the configuration used by the Blue Angels.

The surplus of former USMC Skyhawks resulted in A-4M versions being used by both VF-126 and TOPGUN. Even though the A-4 was augmented by the F-5E, F-21 (Kfir), F-16 and F/A-18 in the Adversary role, the A-4 remained a viable threat surrogate until it was retired by VF-43 in 1993 and shortly thereafter by VFC-12. The last A-4 fleet operators were VC-8 which retired their Skyhawks in 2003.

[edit] Israel

In the late 1960s and 1970s, Israeli Air Force Skyhawks would be the primary ground attack aircraft in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War. They cost only 1/4 what a Phantom II cost and carried more bombs and had longer range than the air superiority fighters they replaced.[5] In May 1970, an Israeli Skyhawk piloted by Col. Ezra Dotan also shot down a MiG-17 with unguided rockets, over south Lebanon. The Skyhawks bore the brunt of losses to sophisticated SA-6 Gainful missile batteries. They have been replaced by F-16s but are still used for pilot training.

[edit] Argentina
A-4AR Fightinghawk of the Argentine Air Force
A-4AR Fightinghawk of the Argentine Air Force

Argentina was not only the first foreign user of the Skyhawk but also one of the largest with nearly 130 A-4s delivered since 1965. The Argentine Air Force received 25 A-4Bs in 1966 and another 25 in 1970, all refurbished in the United States by Lockheed Service Co. prior their delivery as A-4P although they were still locally known as A-4B. They had three weapon pylons and served in the 5th Air Brigade (Spanish: V Brigada Aerea). In 1976, another order was made for 25 A-4Cs to replace the F-86 Sabres still in service in the 4th Air Brigade (Spanish: IV Brigada Aerea). They were received as is and refurbished to flight status by the air force technicians at Río Cuarto, Cordoba. They had five weapon pylons and could use AAM AIM-9B Sidewinders.

The Argentine Navy also bought the Skyhawk in the form of 16 A-4B plus two for spare parts, modified with five weapon pylons and to carry AIM-9B Sidewinders , known as A-4Q. They were received in 1971 to replace F9F Panther and F9F Cougar in use from the aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo by the 3rd Fighter/Attack Squadron (Spanish: 3ra Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Caza y Ataque).

The United States placed an embargo of spare parts in 1977 due to the Dirty War (which was lifted in the 1990s under Carlos Menem's presidency when Argentina became a Major non-NATO ally). In spite of this, A-4s still served well in the 1982 Falklands War where they achieved success against the Royal Navy.

[edit] Falklands War

See also: Argentine air forces in the Falklands War

During the 1982 conflict, armed with iron bombs and lacking any electronic or missile self defense, Argentine Air Force Skyhawks sank HMS Coventry (D118) and HMS Antelope (F170) as well as producing heavy damage to several others: RFA Sir Galahad (1966) (which was subsequently scuttled as a war grave), HMS Glasgow (D88), HMS Argonaut (F56), HMS Broadsword (F88) and RFA Sir Tristram. Argentine Navy A-4Qs, flying from Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego naval airbase, also played a role in the bombing attacks against British ships, destroying HMS Ardent (F184).[6]

In all, 22 Skyhawks (ten A-4B, nine A-4C and three A-4Q) were lost to all causes in the six weeks-long war.

After the war, Air Force A-4Bs and A-4Cs survivors were upgraded under the Halcon program with 30 mm guns, AAM missiles and other minor details and merged into the 5th Air Brigade. All were withdrawn from use in 1999 and replaced with 36 examples of the much improved OA/A-4AR Fightinghawk. Several TA-4J and A-4E airframes were also delivered under the A-4AR program mainly for spare parts use.

In 1983, the United States vetoed delivery by Israel of 24 A-4H for the Argentine Navy as the A-4Q replacement which were finally retired in 1988.

[edit] Kuwait
Kuwaiti A-4KUs on the flight line in 1991
Kuwaiti A-4KUs on the flight line in 1991

More recently, Kuwaiti Air Force Skyhawks fought in 1991, during Operation Desert Storm. Of the 36 that were delivered to Kuwait in 1970s, 23 survived the conflict and the Iraqi invasion, with only one being destroyed in combat. The remaining Kuwaiti Skyhawks were then sold to Brazil where they mostly serve aboard the aircraft carrier NAe São Paulo.[7]

[edit] Variants
VA-81 A4D-2 on the USS Forrestal in 1962.
VA-81 A4D-2 on the USS Forrestal in 1962.
A-4C landing on the USS Kitty Hawk in 1966.
A-4C landing on the USS Kitty Hawk in 1966.
Republic of Singapore Air Force A-4SU Super Skyhawk
Republic of Singapore Air Force A-4SU Super Skyhawk
A-4E of VA-164
A-4E of VA-164
RNZAF A-4K
RNZAF A-4K
TA-4F Skyhawk of VA-164 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) in the early 1970s
TA-4F Skyhawk of VA-164 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) in the early 1970s
Naval Reserve A-4L of VA-203
Naval Reserve A-4L of VA-203
A-4M of VMA-322
A-4M of VMA-322
OA-4M of MAG-32 in 1990
OA-4M of MAG-32 in 1990

Prototypes

* XA4D-1: Prototype
* YA4D-1 (YA-4A, later A-4A): Flight test prototypes and pre-production aircraft.

A-4A

* A4D-1 (A-4A): Initial production version, 166 built

A-4B

* A4D-2 (A-4B): Strengthened aircraft and added air-to-air refueling capabilities, improved navigation and flight control systems, provision for AGM-12 Bullpup missile, 542 built.
* A-4P: Remanufactured A-4Bs sold to Argentine Air Force known as A-4B by the Argentines.
* A-4Q: Remanufactured A-4Bs sold to Argentine Navy.
* A-4S: 50 A-4Bs remanufactured for Republic of Singapore Air Force.
* TA-4S: seven trainer versions of the above. Different from most TA-4 trainers with a common cockpit for the student and instructor pilot, these were essentially rebuilt with a 28-inch fuselage plug inserted into the front fuselage and a separate bulged cockpit (giving better all round visibility) for the instructor seated behind the student pilot.
* TA-4S-1: eight trainer versions of the above. These were designated as TA-4S-1 to set it apart from the earlier batch of seven airframes.
* A4D-3: Proposed advanced avionics version, none built.

A-4C

* A4D-2N (A-4C): Night/adverse weather version of A4D-2, with AN/APG-53A radar, autopilot, LABS low-altitude bombing system. Wright J65-W-20 engine with 8,200 lbf (36.5 kN) takeoff thrust, 638 built.
* A-4L: 100 A-4Cs remanufactured for Navy Reserve squadrons.
* A-4S-1: 50 A-4Cs remanufactured for Republic of Singapore Air Force.
* A-4SU: This is an extensively modified and updated version of the A-4S, exclusively for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), fitted with a General Electric F404 non-afterburning turbofan engine, and modernized electronics.
* TA-4SU: This is an extensively modified and updated version of the TA-4S & TA-4S-1 to TA-4SU standard.
* A-4PTM: 40 A-4Cs and A-4Ls refurbished for Royal Malaysian Air Force, incorporating many A-4M features (PTM stands for Peculiar to Malaysia).[8]
* TA-4PTM: Small number of trainer versions of above (PTM stands for Peculiar to Malaysia).[8]
* A4D-4: Long-range version with new wings cancelled; A-4D designation skipped to prevent confusion with A4D

A-4E

* A4D-5 (A-4E): Major upgrade, including new Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A engine with 8,400 lbf (37 kN) thrust, strengthened airframe with two more weapon pylons (for a total of five), improved avionics, with TACAN, Doppler navigation radar, radar altimeter, toss-bombing computer, and AJB-3A low-altitude bombing system. Many later upgraded with J52-P-8 engine with 9,300 lbf (41 kN) thrust; 499 built.
* TA-4E: two A-4Es modified as prototypes of a trainer version.
* A4D-6: Proposed version, none built.

A-4F

* A-4F: Refinement of A-4E with extra avionics housed in a hump on the fuselage spine (this feature later retrofitted to A-4Es and some A-4Cs) and more powerful J52-P-8A engine with 9,300 lbf (41 kN) thrust, later upgraded in service to J52-P-408 with 11,200 lbf (50 kN), 147 built. Some served with Blue Angels acrobatic team from 1973 to 1986.
* TA-4F: Conversion trainer - standard A-4F with extra seat for an instructor, 241 built.
* OA-4M: 23 TA-4Fs modified for Forward Air Control duties for the USMC.
* EA-4F: four TA-4Fs converted for ECM training.
* TA-4J: Dedicated trainer version based on A-4F, but lacking weapons systems, and with down-rated engine, 277 built new, and most TA-4Fs were later converted to this configuration.
* A-4G: eight aircraft built new for the Royal Australian Navy with minor variations from the A-4F in particular they were not fitted with the avionics "hump". Subsequently, eight more A-4Fs were modified to this standard for the RAN. Significantly the A-4G were modified to carry four underwing Sidewinder AIM-9B missiles increasing their Fleet Defense capability.[9]
* TA-4G: two trainer versions of the A-4G built new, and two more modified from TA-4Fs.
* A-4H: 90 aircraft for the Israeli Air Force based on the A-4F. Used 30 mm DEFA cannon with 150 rounds per gun in place of US 20 mm guns. Later, some A-4Es later locally modified to this standard. Subsequently modified with extended jetpipes as protection against heat-seeking missiles.
* TA-4H: 25 trainer versions of the above. These remain in service, and are being refurbished with new avionics and systems for service till at least 2010.
* A-4K: ten aircraft for Royal New Zealand Air Force. In the 1990s these were upgraded under Project KAHU with new radar and avionics, provision for AGM-65 Maverick, AIM-9 Sidewinder, and GBU-16 Paveway II laser-guided bomb. The RNZAF also rebuilt an A-4C and ten A-4Gs to A4K standard.
* TA-4K: four trainer versions of the above. A fifth was later assembled in NZ from spare parts. The sale of ex-RNZAF A-4K and TA-4K aircraft to a private US flight training firm was announced in September 2005[citation needed] but this deal seems to not have taken place as of January 2008.[citation needed]

A-4M

* A-4M: Dedicated Marine version with improved avionics and more powerful J52-P-408a engine with 11,200 lbf (50 kN) thrust, enlarged cockpit, IFF system. Later fitted with Hughes AN/ASB-19 Angle Rate Bombing System (ARBS) with TV and laser spot tracker, 158 built.
* A-4N: 117 modified A-4Ms for the Israeli Air Force.
* A-4KU: 30 modified A-4Ms for the Kuwaiti Air Force. Brazil purchased 20 of these second-hand and redesignated them AF-1. Now used in Brazilian Navy on carrier duty.
* TA-4KU: three trainer versions of the above. Brazil purchased some of these second-hand and redesignated them AF-1A.
* A-4AR: 36 A-4Ms refurbished for Argentina. Known as Fightinghawk.
* TA-4R: Refurbished two-seat training version for Argentina.
* A-4Y: Provisional designation for A-4Ms modified with the ARBS. Apparently never adopted by the US Navy or Marine Corps.

[edit] Operators

Main article: List of A-4 Skyhawk operators

Flag of Argentina Argentina

* Argentine Air Force
* Argentine Navy

Flag of Australia Australia

* Royal Australian Navy

Flag of Brazil Brazil

* Brazilian Navy

Flag of Indonesia Indonesia

* Indonesian Air Force: All 33 have been retired and replaced with 4 new Flankers in 2003, they are however in reserve and ready if needed.

Flag of Israel Israel

* Israeli Air Force

Flag of Kuwait Kuwait

* Kuwaiti Air Force

Flag of Malaysia Malaysia

* Royal Malaysian Air Force

Flag of New Zealand New Zealand

* Royal New Zealand Air Force

Flag of Singapore Singapore

* Republic of Singapore Air Force

Flag of the United States United States

* United States Marine Corps
* United States Navy

[edit] Specifications (A-4F Skyhawk)
Orthographically projected diagram of the A-4 Skyhawk.

Data from [1]

General characteristics

* Crew: 1 (2 in TA-4J,TA-4F,OA-4F)
* Length: 40 ft 3 in (12.22 m)
* Wingspan: 26 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
* Height: 15 ft (4.57 m)
* Wing area: 259 ft² (24.15 m²;)
* Airfoil: NACA 0008-1.1-25 root, NACA 0005-0.825-50 tip
* Empty weight: 10,450 lb (4,750 kg)
* Loaded weight: 18,300 lb (8,318 kg)
* Max takeoff weight: 24,500 lb (11,136 kg)
* Powerplant: 1× Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A turbojet, 9,300 lbf (10,000+ USMC A-4M and OA-4M) (41 kN)

Performance

* Maximum speed: 585 knots (673 mph, 1,077 km/h)
* Range: 1,700 nm (2,000 mi, 3,220 km)
* Service ceiling 42,250 ft (12,880 m)
* Rate of climb: 8,440 ft/min (43 m/s)
* Wing loading: 70.7 lb/ft² (344.4 kg/m²;)
* Thrust/weight: 0.51

Armament

* Guns: 2× 20 mm (0.787 in) Colt Mk 12 cannon, 100 rounds/gun
* Missiles: 4× AIM-9 Sidewinder

AGM-45 Shrike ARM (Anti-Radiation Missile), AGM-65 Maverick ASM (Air-to-Surface Missiles), AGM-62 Walleye Glide bomb, AGM-12 Bullpup ASM (Air-to-Surface Missiles), Rockeye Mk.20 Cluster Bomb Unit, Rockeye Mk.7/APAM-59 Cluster Bomb Unit, Mk.81 (250 lb) and Mk.82 (500 lb) free fall or retarded bombs, various tactical nuclear missiles and bombs, Mk.76 Practice Bombs

* Bombs: 9,900 lb (4,490 kg) on five external hardpoints
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General Dynamics F-16XL Fighting Falcon
Last revised October 3, 2003

In February of 1980, General Dynamics made a proposal for a Fighting Falcon version with a radically-modified wing shape. The project was known as SCAMP (Supersonic Cruise and Maneuvering Prototype) and later as F-16XL. The wing was to be of a cranked-arrow wing shape, with double the area of the standard F-16 wing. This new wing would, it was hoped, make supersonic cruise performance possible.

This program was initially funded by the manufacturer, and involved conversion of two FSD F-16As. In late 1980, the USAF and General Dynamics agreed to a cooperative test program, with the Air Force providing the third and sixth FSD F-16s for modification into F-16XL prototypes. The fuselage was lengthened to 54 feet 1.86 inches, and was fitted with a cranked-arrow wing incorporated carbon composite materials to save weight. The increased area allowed the incorporation of up to 17 stores stations.

Although the rebuild did involve a modest increase in the length of the fuselage, the new XL designation did NOT stand for "Xtra Length". The origin of the name XL seems to have been with Harry Hillaker himself. Harry Hillaker was an avid golfer, and one day he and a friend were on the golf course and were discussing what they should call the new SCAMP project. Harry wanted a name that would reflect the new design's ability to fly longer and farther than the original F-16. He happened to look down and noticed that the golf ball he was using was a Top Flite XL. He chose this as the name of the SCAMP design.

The first of two F-16XLs (75-0749) had a single seat and was powered by an F100-PW-201 turbofan. It flew for the first time on July 3, 1982, with James McKinney at the controls. The second F-16XL was originally the third FSD F-16A (75-0747) which had been damaged in a landing accident. It was fitted with an F-16B two-seat cockpit. It was powered by a 29,000 lb.s.t. General Electric F110-GE-100 turbofan. It flew for the first time on October 29, 1982, piloted by Alex Wolf and Jim McKinney. The single-seater is sometimes known as the F-16XL-1, the two-seater as F-16XL-2

The ventral fins of the standard F-16 were not fitted. The absence of ventral fins and the canting of the aft fuselage three degrees allows greater angles of attack on landing, which decreases the approach speed. Split airbrakes were fited to either side of the rear jetpipe exhaust, and a drag chute assembly similar to that fitted to the Norwegian, Belgian, and Venezuelan F-16s was fitted underneath the vertical fin trailing edge. The drag chute assembly was initially fitted only to the two-seat F-16XL, but was later retrofitted to the single-seat F-16XL during NASA service.

The centerline and two inlet stations are common to the F-16C/D. Four AIM-120 AMRAAM stations are partially submerged in the wing roots. Four hardpoints with twn stations are underneath each inboard wing panel, and AIM-9/AIM-120 missile launch rails can be carried at each wingtip.

The handling of the F-16XL was reportedly quite different from that of the standard F-16, offering a much smoother ride at high speeds at low altitudes.

In March of 1981, the USAF announced that it would be developing a new advanced tactical fighter to replace the F-111 in the low-level, night, and bad-weather interdiction role. Since the F-16XL was already on hand, General Dynamics entered the F-16XL in the competition, the McDonnell Douglas company submitting an adaptation of the two-seat F-15B Eagle. In February of 1984, the Air Force announced that it had selected the McDonnell Douglas design in preference to proposed production versions of F-16XL. The McDonnell Douglas proposal was later to enter production as the F-15E Strike Eagle.

Had the F-16XL won the competition, production aircraft would have been designated F-16E (single-seat) and F-16F (two-seat). Following the loss of the contract to McDonnell Douglas, General Dynamics returned both F-16XLs to Fort Worth during the summer of 1985 and placed them in storage. They had made 437 and 361 flights respectively. Although supersonic cruise without afterburner had been an original goal of the F-16XL program, the aircraft never did quite achieve this feat.

In late 1988, the two prototypes were taken out of storage and turned over to NASA. They were used in a program designed to evaluate aerodynamics concepts to improve wing airflow during sustained supersonic flight.

The first F-16XL was reflown on March 9, 1989 and delivered to the Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility at Edwards AFB. This aircraft was modified for laminar-flow studies with an experimental titanium section on its left wing with active suction to siphon off a portion of a layer of turbulent surface air via millions of tiny laser-cut holes. The first flight with the new wing took place on May 3, 1990, pilot Steve Ishmael at the controls. This aircraft has been assigned the NASA number of 849.

The single-seat F16XL was briefly assigned to the NASA/Langley facility in Virginia from April to November 1994 to evaluate takeoff performance and engine noise as part of a project to evaluate the configuration of a possible future high-speed civil transport.

The second F-16XL (75-0747) went to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB. The aircraft has carried the NASA number 846 (briefly) and 848. The two-seater has continued with the laminar-flow studies initiated by the single-seater.

Specification of F-16XL:

Engine: One Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 turbofan, 23,770 pounds with afterburning. Maximum speed: Mach 2.05 at 40,000 feet. Dimensions: wingspan 34 feet 3 inches, length 54 feet 2 inches, height 17 feet 7 inches, wing area 646 square feet. Weights: 43,000 pounds combat, 48,000 pounds maximum takeoff. Armament: 0ne 20-mm M61A1 cannon. An AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared-homing air-to-air missile could be carried at each wingtip. An external ordnance load of up to 15,000 pounds could be carried on up to 17 external hardpoints.
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A-37B Dragonfly
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Cessna
Crew: 1 pilot, or 1 pilot and 1 observer
Length: 28 ft 3.4 in (8.62 m)
Wingspan: 35 ft 10.3 in
Height: 8 ft 10.3 in (2.70 m)
Weight: 6,211 lb (2,817 kg) empty, 14,000 lb (6,350 kg) maximum
Powerplant: 2x General Electric J-85-GE-17A turbojets with 2,850 pounds of thrust each
Maximum Speed: 507 mph (816 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 41,765 ft (12,730 m)
Range: 920 mi (1,480 km)
Armament: 1x 7.62mm M-134 Minigun, 2x 20mm GPU-2/A gun pods, 2x 70mm LAU-51/A rocket launchers, 4x 500 lb Mk 82 bombs


The Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, a small, light, yet brutally lethal counter insurgency (COIN) and close air support (CAS) aircraft.

As the Vietnam War dragged on, the Air Force wanted to test a jet powered attack aircraft as a possible replacement for their fleet of A-1 Skyraiders. Wanting something small and light so as to be able to operate from the forward air bases in South Vietnam and Thailand and therefore requiring fewer ammenities that their bigger and more advanced machines required, they gave a contract to Cessna to modify their T-37 training aircraft to see how well it might perform in an attack role.

Cessna modified 39 of their T-37 aircraft and sent them to the Air Force as the YAT-37, with tests and evaluations to be carried out directly on the battlefield.

Combat tests were quite successful, and the YAT-37s, with a small number of upgrades became the A-37A. Over time, as the A-37s were put through ever more demanding missions and roles, a number of modifications became necessary, one of the biggest being the ability to refuel in mid-air.

Cessna's next batch of A-37s included an inflight refuelling probe, more powerful jet engines, a modest increase in load carrying capability, and a number of small changes to the cockpit layout. These aircraft became the A-37B, which is what my model represents.

Though the Dragonfly never replaced the Skyraider in the ground attack role (due to several reasons, the Skyraider's heavier payload capacity being one of them), it never the less proved itself a capable and lethal ground attack machine, carrying heavy ordinance straight to the front lines, while its small size and agility made it a difficult target to shoot down.

Primary armament was usually a mix of rockets and bombs carried on 8 underwing hardpoints, while an M-134 Minigun in the nose provided additional firepower and a ground strafing capability. Though the M-134 was only a 7.62mm weapon, versus the cannon shells fired by other aircraft, its high rate of fire helped its effectiveness against enemy infantry. In order to boost its effectiveness against "hard" targets, gun pods with 20mm and 30mm cannons were fitted to the underwing hardpoints and while considered successful in tests and a small number of combat operations, they were oddly never adopted on a large scale.

Following Vietnam, the Dragonfly continued its military career until the early 1990's. Though it remained in Air Force service in small numbers, most of them wound up in the hands of the Air National Guard as AF units traded the Dragonflies in for the devastating A-10 Thunderbolt II.



The A-37 I've built here is in the markings of an Air National Guard Squadron, making it a post Vietnam colour scheme. Unfortunately, because my kit is at least 20 years old, the decals had yellowed and deteriorated beyond use, and no replacements or substitutes were availible to me.

More pics:

Higher up:
[link]

Planform:
[link]

Head on:
[link]

Ordinance: From left to right: 20mm cannon pod, 1,000 pound bomb, 70mm rocket launcher, 1,000 pound bomb:
[link]

7 o'clock:
[link]

6 o'clock:
[link]

A-37s were really small. Here it is next to an F-80 Shooting Star. Note that the Shooting Star is actually taller:
[link]
[link]
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The Chengdu J-10 (traditional Chinese: 殲十; simplified Chinese: 歼十; pinyin: Jiān Shí, meaning "Annihilator (Fighter) Ten") is a 4.5th generation multirole fighter aircraft designed and produced by the People's Republic of China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) with considerable foreign technological input for the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). Known in the West as the "Vigorous Dragon",[3] the J-10 is designed to be equally useful in both the fighter and light bomber roles and is optimized for all-weather day/night operation.

The J-10 next-generation fighter program remained a top-secret classified project until December 29th 2006, when the Xinhua News Agency officially disclosed its active duty status with the PLAAF.

Development

The program was originally backed by the Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, who authorized half a billion Renminbi to develop an indigenous aircraft, but the official program did not start until several years later in January 1986 when the Chinese government officially issued Project #10,[1] to develop a fighter to counter new fourth generation fighters then being introduced by the USSR (namely, the MiG-29 and Su-27). The 611th Institute, also known as Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute was tasked as the main developer, with Mr. Song Wencong, the chief designer of J-7III assigned as the chief designer, and Mr. Xue Chishou (薛炽寿;) as the chief engineer. Initially designed as a specialized fighter, it was later remade into a multirole aircraft capable of both air to air combat and ground attack missions. However, a Chinese magazine (zh:少年科学画报, ISSN1000-7776) published in June 1979 showed a boy holding a model of J-10.[4] The picture indicated that the project began long before 1979.

Although the existence of J-10 has long been reported both inside and outside of China, the Chinese government did not officially admit so until January 2007, when the first photographs of the J-10 were allowed to be published to the public by the Xinhua News Agency. Having been designed under such secrecy, before its official disclosure, many details of the J-10 were subject to much speculation. One rumored version of the J-10 development history is: the first flight of the J-10 took place sometime in 1996, then the program suffered a major delay due to a fatal accident which occurred in 1997, and then a redesigned prototype flew in 1998, resuming flight testing of the aircraft.[citation needed] (There is evidence, albeit inconclusive, that only one prototype was flying; the other was a ground static testbed. Hence, no crash occurred.)[citation needed]

However, the rumored crash has been openly denied by the government of China after the official governmental acknowledgment of the existence of the J-10: on 1 January 2007, both the Xinhua News Agency and the PLA Daily have claimed/reported the accomplishments of one of the test pilots of the J-10, Mr. Li Zhonghua (李中华;), and, in these reports, one of the accomplishments quoted was that there was not a single crash since the project began. According to Chinese media reports, the first plane, "J-10 01", rolled out in November 1997, and the first flight of "J-10 01" was on 23 March 1998.[1] No incident has been reported.[5] After 18 years in development, the J-10 finally entered service in 2004.[1][6]

The aircraft made its successful maiden flight on 23 March 1998, flown by test pilot Mr. Lei Qiang (雷強;), lasting twenty minutes. Another test pilot Mr. Li Zhonghua (李中华;) test flew the prototype for its aerodynamic performance that lasted till early December, 2003, during which aerial refueling tests were also successfully completed. In these aerodynamic tests, the aircraft was pushed beyond its parameters of the original design and it was discovered that the aircraft could easily withstand the greater requirements. The last part of the test flight was the live round air-to-air missiles test firing, which lasted from 21 December 2003 to 25 December 2003, which was completed by test pilot Mr. Xu Yongling (徐勇凌;). The aircraft were first delivered to the 13th Test Regiment on 23 February 2003. The aircraft was given the status 'operational' in December of the same year. The first operational regiment was the 131th Regiment of the 44th Division. It is rumored that a regiment of the 3rd Division has also J-10s.

[edit] Export customers

So far the J-10 has been offered only to Pakistan for export as the FC-20. The President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, was shown the secret J-10 & JF-17 production facility in late February 2006. He also sat in the cockpit of both aircraft. On his way back he told the press that he had visited the J-10 production facility and that the Chinese had offered to sell the aircraft to Pakistan. He later said that Pakistan and its air force will certainly consider the offer. On 12 April 2006 the Pakistani cabinet approved the purchase of at least 36 J-10s under the designation FC-20. In a recent interview, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmad said that additional FC-20 aircraft will be procured. Pakistan is the largest importer of Chinese military hardware. Its air force flies over 180 F-7 aircraft made by China. In addition, Pakistan is a 50% partner in the FC-1/JF-17 Thunder and K-8 Karakorum advanced jet trainer projects.[7]

In April 2006, the media reported that the Pakistani government intends to procure at least 36 J-10s (designated FC-20 or FC-10, depending on the report). The Business Recorder claims that the Pakistani official document it obtained said the Cabinet "has allowed PAF to set up Joint Working Group (JWG) with CATIC for procurement of 36 FC-20 aircraft". Other media reports cited Pakistan Information Minister Sheikh Rashid (at that time) saying that the Cabinet has approved the purchase of J-10s from China, in addition to JF-17s.[8][9] On 31 March 2007, Pakistan Air Force Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed said, "PAF would soon induct fourth and fifth generation high-tech fleet of fighter-bomber aircraft with the aim to modernize the country's air force which includes the induction of 2 squadrons of Chengdu J-10 aircraft."[10] The J-10 export deal is estimated to cost a total of $1.5 billion USD, with a flyaway price of $41 million USD for each J-10 fighter with maintenance and parts inclusive.[citation needed]

It was reported by Jane's Defence Weekly on 2006-01-09 that a more advanced version of the J-10 is planned, referred to as the Super-10, with a more powerful engine, thrust-vector control, stronger airframe and passive phased-array radar.[11]

Israeli and Russian participation

There have been conflicting reports about the relationship Chengdu may have had with the Israeli IAI Lavi fighter program. [6] In formal (official) Chinese sources, the J-10 is said to have been developed from the now canceled Chengdu J-9, which shared with both J-10 and the Lavi a canard-configuration. The J-9 program predated both of the other aircraft[12] - a fact that arguably counters the Lavi-related speculation. In an interview, the general designer of J-10, Mr. Song Wencong (宋文骢;) said, "Our nation's new fighter's external design and aerodynamics configuration are completely made by us and did not receive foreign assistance, this made me very proud. Our nation developed J-9 in the 1960s, this adopted the canard configuration. So, those statements that said J-10 is a copy of Israeli Lavi are just laughable."[13]

A simple comparison of known IAI Lavi prototype photographs and J-10 photographs (now officially released) shows some common features between the two aircraft, but also common with fighter aircraft of other countries.[14][15]. However, the delta canard layout also appeared on many other aircraft, including the Eurofighter Typhoon and the French Rafale. Additionally, the delta-canard planform combined with a ventral intake has also been used on a Soviet-designed high-technology prototype known as the MiG 1.44. The Soviets started the MiG-1.44 project as far back as 1986, before the Lavi program was canceled. While Lavi and J-10 share some features, there are notable differences. The ventral intake of the J-10, MiG-1.44 and Eurofighter are rectangular and feature variable geometry ramping for high-speed flight. The intakes on both the Lavi and F-16 are round and fixed, and neither aircraft was developed with an eye towards reduced radar cross-section.

The strongest admission of Israeli complicity in the J-10's development by Israeli authorities appeared in a statement made by an official as American authorities investigated alleged Lavi technology transfers to China. The Director General of Israel's Ministry of Defense David Lari "acknowledged in an Associated Press interview that 'some technology on aircraft' had been sold to China and that some Israeli companies may not have 'clean hands'".[16]. The context of the article strongly substantiates military technology being transferred between Israeli and the Chinese defense institutions, but lack specific mention of the Lavi being part of it. However, the volume of Israeli arms and technology sales to China suggests a considerable range of ventures were undertaken.

In May 2008, Jane's Information Group reported several interviews with Russian sources claiming to be involved with various Chengdu military projects. A number of engineers, designers and technical specialists described their visits to Chengdu and other areas of China in the 1980s. How these sources were able to gain access to top-secret military projects during the Sino-Soviet split is unclear. A source alleged that high-level Chengdu officials described the possession of a single Lavi prototype at one of Chengdu's facilities. They also claim that in 2000, two years after the J-10's maiden flight, aerodynamic models were sent to Russian wind tunnel testing facilities to study the J-10's aerodynamics. The scope of involvement is not reported. However, the J-10 was undergoing flight testing in 2000. As such, the timeline suggests that the models played a small role in verifying the aerodynamic properties of the aircraft. The Russian sources in the article were allegedly involved in design and performance modeling, wind-tunnel testing, and advanced aerodynamic design input in various military projects.[17]

During the 2006 Farnborough Airshow, the Russian Siberian Aeronautical Research Institute (SibNIA) confirmed its participation in the J-10 program. According to the article, this participation was limited to observation and instruction as "scientific guides." The sources also claimed that the J-10 was based on the canceled Israeli IAI Lavi. How the sources were able to reach this conclusion is unclear as it is not stated in the article. [18]

Kommersant's reporter Kostantin Lantratov affirmed that Russian consent was required to export the J-10, given its Russian AL-31 engine.

[edit] Design details

[edit] Engine
The AL-31FN is specifically optimized for the J-10 fighter.
The AL-31FN is specifically optimized for the J-10 fighter.

The J-10 is powered by a single, Russian-built Lyulka-Saturn AL-31FN turbofan engine (maximum static power output of 12,500 kgf (123 kN, 27,600 lbf)) or a Chinese-built Woshan WS-10A "Taihang" turbofan (13,200 kgf (129 kN, 29,101 lbf)). However, after the government's official acknowledgment of the existence of the J-10, an interview with J-10 pilots (such as test pilot Li Cunbao (李存宝;)) revealed that a domestic engine is highly unlikely to equip the J-10 in the near future.[citation needed] In this interview, publicized in January 2007, the pilots claimed that though the domestic Chinese engine could match the performance of the Russian design in every aspect, there was a very serious drawback - the domestic Chinese engine took much longer to reach the same level of performance as its Russian counterpart (according to Mr. Li Cunbao, as well as other pilots who flew the J-10 fitted with the WS-10, it took at least 50% longer, and in several other aspects, almost 100% longer.)[citation needed] Although this would only translate to a ~1 minute difference at most, it was enough to affect the pilot's ability to safely recover the aircraft by restarting the engine rather than abandoning the aircraft in a forced ejection. Another significant drawback of the domestic Chinese engine is the lack of a FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) feature. This has been addressed, however, the current FADEC-equipped WS-10 is not reliable enough to be considered for service. As a result of difficulties faced with the development of the WS-10, all initial J-10s are powered by the Russian AL-31FN turbofan; 180 AL-31FN engines ordered in two separate batches by China have been delivered by the mid-2000s. Out of the 180 engines ordered, 100 were built by the Moscow-based MMPP Salyut plant, and the remaining 80 by Ufa-based UMPO facility, with the price of the first batch being $300 million, while the price of the second batch was undisclosed. Contrary to many erroneous claims, the AL-31FN is not a thrust vectoring engine, but instead, a derivative of the AL-31F engine used by Su-27 aircraft. The most significant difference between the AL-31FN and other models is the arrangement of certain parts and mechanisms due to spacial limitations of the engine bay in the J-10. Protruding parts of the engine such as the pump are mounted opposite to that of AL-31F. The new WS-10A engine with full FADEC received certificaiton in early 2006. There are plans to build J-10s with the WS-10a engine.

Thrust vectoring

During the Paris Airshow in 2001, a prototype of a development of AL-31FN with thrust vectoring developed to meet Chinese specifications was revealed to the public by Russian engine developer Salyut, with a fully-variable swivel nozzle design from the Klimov Design Bureau in St. Petersburg, with research and development costs at least partially sponsored by China. The Russians stopped short of identifying which version of the J-10 the thrust vectoring engine would be used on. It was revealed that the factory designation of this thrust vectoring engine is AL-31FN M1, but sources outside China disagree on its application: some claim that it would be used in a new advanced version of the J-10 called the Super-10, while others claim it would be used on J-10 itself in future upgrades. Speculation persisted until the end of 2005, when China finally placed an order for 54 AL-31FN M1 engines at $300 million, but no follow-on orders have been placed since then. Various domestic Chinese sources have claimed that the reason for not purchasing anymore AL-31FN M1 engines is that the Mean Time Between Overhaul (MTBO) of the thrust vectoring engine is too short: according to the Russian manufacturer Salyut's claim, thrust vectoring engines of the AL-31F series only have an MTBO of 250 hours compared to more than 1,000 hours of MTBO for the original AL-31F, but Chinese sources claim that in reality, the number is as low as 50 hours MBTO for the thrust vectoring model, the same problem India is rumored to have encountered with its recently-acquired Su-30MKI fighter, but such claims have yet to be confirmed by sources outside of China[citation needed].

Adding to the confusion, the Chinese government has released the official photo of the domestic thrust vectoring engine undergoing testing around the same time, but did not provide any other information besides identifying the asymmetric nozzles of the thrust vectoring engine in the tests. Some sources outside China have claimed this domestic thrust vectoring engine might be for the Shenyang J-11. Regardless of how they will eventually be used, thrust vectoring will undoubtedly increase the J-10's agility. However, if Chinese criticism of thrust vectoring engines proves to be true, then it is highly unlikely that any thrust vectoring technology could be incorporated into J-10 anytime soon, and the lack of any follow-on orders for AL-31F M1 seems to support this view.

[edit] Airframe, aerodynamics and flight control
A model of the J-10.
A model of the J-10.


The airframe possesses a large vertical tail, as well as canards placed near the cockpit. The air intake is rectangular in shape, and is located beneath the fuselage. Construction likely incorporates much use of composite materials, as well as more conventional metals. Performance is generally speculated to be within the class of a (Block 40) F-16 Fighting Falcon. In simulated dogfights, the J-10 has defeated the J-11. A bubble canopy provides 360 degrees of visual coverage for the pilot. The aircraft is designed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute, a subordinate research institute of Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation, but in a rather unusual agreement, the single seat version of the J-10 and the twin seater version of J-10 were designed by two different general designers: the general designer for the single seater version of the J-10 was Mr. Song Wencong, while the twin seater version of the J-10 was designed by a younger person, the general designer of the JF-17 Thunder Mr. Yang Wei (杨伟;). However, Mr. Yang is the chief designer of the fully digitized fly-by-wire control systems for both versions of the fighter. This is disputed by analyst Richard Fisher [19] who credits Israeli consultants for developing the system.[20] For both single seater and twin seater versions, the chief engineer was Mr. Xue Chishou (薛炽寿;), who was also the deputy general manager of Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation, and the chief test engineer was Mr. Zhou Ziquan (周自全;), who was also the deputy director of Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute. Mr. Sang Jianhua (桑建华;) of Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute was responsible for the stealth feature designs. China has only three internationally-recognized test pilots who are certified to perform test flights worldwide, and all of them were recruited for the J-10 program: they were Mr. Lei Qiang (雷強;), Mr. Li Cunbao (李存宝;) and Mr. Li Zhonghua (李中华;). Other test pilots who contributed greatly in trials of the J-10 included Mr. Xu Yongling (徐勇凌;) and Mr. Zou Jianguo (邹建国;).

Avionics

A digital, quadruplex fly-by-wire system aids the pilot in flying the aircraft. Information is provided visually to the pilot, in the form of three Liquid Crystal Multi-Functional Displays (LCD MFDs) within the cockpit. Western-style HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) controls are incorporated in the J-10's design. A Chinese Helmet-Mounted Sight (HMS) is also standard equipment.

[edit] Radar

The radar type equipping the J-10 is not yet finalized, with a variety of possible candidates, some of which have been installed on the J-10 airframe. With the exception of the RP-35, most of the J-10 radars that have been publicized are slotted planar array radars:

* Israeli Elta EL/M-2035: The first radar onboard J-10 prototypes for testing purposes. The radar weight is 138 kg (304 lb) and Chinese Internet sources claimed it is reportedly designated as JL-9, and the radar was mainly used to provide technological know-how for radar/avionics integration for more advanced radars. Such Chinese claims have yet to be confirmed by outside sources.

* Chinese/Pakistani JL-10A: Chinese sources have claimed that JL-10A radar on JH-7 has been reportedly installed on the pre-production unit as a stop-gap measure as more advanced radars becoming available. Again, such claims have yet to be confirmed by outside sources.

* Russian Phazotron Zhemchoug (Pearl): 20 units ordered in the mid-1990s, all of which have been delivered. This radar is a derivative of Zhuk (Beetle) radar on the Su-27 Flanker with newer electronics which reduced the weight by more than a third to 180 kg from the original Zhuk (Beetle) radar. Chinese sources claim that these radars have been installed on the low-rate initial production version of J-10. The Zhemchoug radar can simultaneously track 20 targets and engage 4 of the 20 tracked via semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles. However, the radar lacks the same level of air-to-ground capability of its Western counterparts. In addition, despite the impressive number of targets it can simultaneously track, the 80/60 km tracking / engagement range is simply considered by Chinese as too short. As a result, no more follow-on orders were placed by the Chinese, and China had already been seeking other alternatives for later production units of the J-10.

* Chinese Type 1471 (KLJ-1) radar: Many Chinese sources have claimed (to be confirmed) that this radar is the most numerous fire control radar fielded on the J-10. The Type 1471 is reported to be able to track and engage the same number of targets like the Russian Zhemchoug (Pearl), but with much more improved air-to-ground capability similar to those of Western origin. However, there are other Chinese sources claiming that the maximum number of targets the Type 1471 can track is less than 20, but instead, only 15, the same as that of the JL-10A.

* Italian FIAR Grifo 2000/16: An Italian radar offered to Pakistan should Pakistan decide to order the J-10. This radar can simultaneously engage 8 targets, and like the JL-10A, it can simultaneously engage 2 targets out of the total targets tracked with semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles. The radar is fully-compatible and interchangeable with AN/APG-66 at LRU level. The radar has a slotted planar array with a diameter up to 800 mm, and the range of the radar is at least 100+ km. The ISO-9002 certified avionics, electronics and radar production facility of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra already has considerable experience in licensed assembly/production of other Italian FIAR radars, namely, the Grifo-7, Grifo-Mk-II, and Grifo-MG fire control radars for Pakistani F-7MP/P/PGs, and the Grifo-2000/16 would have great advantage over its competitors when license assembly/production is included.

* Russian Phazotron (NIIR) RP-35: This passive phased array radar is designed as a successor to the earlier Zhemchoug (Pearl) radar, with full air-to-air and air-to-surface capability. Although Western sources reported that Russia is actively marketing this radar to China, neither countries have disclosed any hints on the progress of the deal. Some domestic Chinese Internet sources have claimed that the radar is intended for Su-27/J-11 upgrades instead, but such claim has yet to be confirmed.

* Russian Tikhomirov (NIIP) Pero: This passive phased array radar was originally designed as a successor to the N001VEP radar on Chinese Su-30MKKs. A unit has successfully completed evaluation in China by early 2000, but China did not place any order. In 2007, Western sources, including Jane's Information Group, have claimed (and confirmed subsequently by the Russians) that China is once again showing interest in this radar, which might be used for the J-10 or its successor. The relatively small size of the antenna array of the Pero radar (750 mm), in comparison to the larger RP-35, makes it easier to integrate into the J-10, providing advantages over its competitor. The Pero radar differs from other passive phased array in that it adopts space-feed technology.

In January 2007, scientists and engineers at Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation revealed to the public that the current radar of J-10 is a slotted planar array one with capabilities to simultaneously track 10 targets and engaging 4 of the 10 tracked. However, the scientists and engineers stopped short of revealing the exact designation of the radar, and only claimed that development was in progress to arm the aircraft with a passive electronically scanned array airborne radar. It is rumored the passive phased array radar is either Russian-made or jointly developed with the Russians.[21]

[edit] Head-up display (HUD)

When Chinese Su-30MKK and Indian Su-30MKI were deployed in the humid subtropical and tropical zones, both had experienced significant fogging problems for the Russian SILS-30 HUDs, which was originally designed for arid environment in arctic/subarctic zones, thus a great deal of effort was spent to solve this issue so that the holographic HUD of Chinese origin on J-10 could be deployed in any environments like its western counterparts. Alternatively, western HUDs can be incorporated directly into the aircraft with little effort due to the modular design and the adoptation of MIL-STD-1553B. The Chinese designed HUD for J-10 has inherited Russian/Soviet tradition of doubling as a radarscope, enabling the pilot to keep his eyes focused at infinity while working with his radar at the same time, a feature originally reverse engineered from MiG-23s obtained from Egypt. The Chinese further expanded this function to include the projection of monochrome images from electrical optical pods J-10 carried, though the colored images from these electrical optical pods would still have to be displayed on the head down displays. Contrary to JF-17 HUD where similar function does not come as a standard feature, but as an extra feature instead, Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation publicly announced at 6th Zhuhai Airshow held at the end of 2006 that for J-10 HUD, such function comes as a standard feature.

Electro-optical systems

A family of indigenously developed electro-optical (optronics) system has been developed for J-10 by Sichuan Changhong Electric Appliance Corporation. (四川长虹电器股份有限公司;) The domestic Chinese optronics system is more advanced than the Russian Izdeliye series which lacked the infrared imaging (ImIR) capability. The Chinese system is named as Type Hongguang-I Electro-optical radar (虹光-Ⅰ型光电雷达;), with Hongguang meaning Rainbow Light, and it is a third generation optronics with ImIR capability and utilizes HgCdTe focal array, and received its certification on March 3, 2005 and subsequently entered service. A year later, the system was revealed to Chinese pubilc at the Conference on (Making) Sichuan Province a Strong Industrial Province (四川工业强省工作会;). During the conference that lasted from March 26 to March 31, 2006, many cadres attending the conference including the Sichuan provincial (communist) party secretary Zhang Xuezhong (张学忠;) were shown and operated an actual system demonstrated at the conference. Type Hongguang-I Electro-optical radar is also designed to be compatible with H-6, JF-17, JH-7, J-8, J-11 and other large aircraft. Based on the limited information released, Hongguang-I optronics has a maximum range up to 75 km, longer than the Izdeliye OLS-27 (36Sh) optronics with 50 km on Su-27, but shorter than the Izdeliye OLS-30 (52Sh) optronics on Su-30.

In comparison to Russian Izdeliye family of optronics such as OLS-27 (36Sh) on Su-27 and OLS-30 (52Sh) on Su-30 that weigh over 200 kg, the Chinese system is much more lighter and compact, but still not enough to be fitted into the nose of the aircraft when the current available radars are installed. As a result, only the podded version can be carried by earlier production models of J-10. Many domestic Chinese sources have claimed that this is the reason why the radar selection of J-10 has not yet been finalized, due to the need for a more compact and lighter one while maintaining the same capability at the same time in order to install the domestic optronics system internally like similar systems on F-14, MiG-29 and Su-27.

[edit] Electronic countermeasures

A comprehensive ECM (Electronic Countermeasures) package is likely to be present, including active jammers such as the BM/KG300G self-protection jamming pod. Additionally, the KZ900 electronic reconnaissance pod can also be carried. In various defense, aerospace/aeronautical and electronic exhibitions, various Helmet-Mounted Sights developed by domestic Chinese firms have been shown, claiming to have better performance than those of Russia. At various defense and aerospace exhibitions held in Beijing and Zhuhai, the J-10 has also been featured in photos and models carrying the Blue Sky navigation pod low-altitude navigational and attack pod and the FILAT Forward-looking Infrared Laser Attack Targeting pod.

[edit] Weapons and external loads

The wings provide 11 hardpoints for the attachment of up to 4,500 kg (9,900 lb) of weaponry, fuel drop tanks, and ECM equipment. Built-in armament consists of a 23 mm cannon, located within the fuselage. External weaponry may include: short-range infrared air-to-air missiles (Chinese PL-8, or the Russian R-73), medium-range radar-guided air-to-air missiles (Chinese PL-11, PL-12, or the Russian R-77), laser-guided and unguided bombs, anti-ship missiles (Chinese YJ-9K), and anti-radiation missiles (Chinese PJ-9).


* J-10A : Single seater baseline Multirole model. The export designation is F-10A.
* J-10S : Twin seater version, for training, electronic warfare (EW), mini-AWACS, ground attack, and more.
* J-10B : An upgrade of the J-10A, FC-20 for Pakistan with new features such as extremely high maneuverability, thrust-vector control, and much more. [2]
* J-10C : Carrier-based J-10
* Super-10 : Speculated to be the follow on to the J-10 with new features such as thrust-vectoring control, phased-array radar, and possible carrier based role. Details from reliable sources are few at the moment.

Specifications (estimated)
Image:Aero-stub img.svgThis aircraft article is missing some (or all) of its specifications. If you have a source, you can help Wikipedia by adding them.

General characteristics

* Crew: 1 (basic), 2 (trainer variant)[6]
* Length: 15.5 m (50 ft 10 in)
* Wingspan: 9.7 m (31 ft 10 in)
* Height: ()
* Wing area: 39 m² (419.8 ft²;)
* Empty weight: 8,000–9,730 kg (17,637–21,451 lb[22])
* Loaded weight: 18500 kg (40,785 lb [23])
* Useful load: 5,500 kg (9,920 lb[citation needed])
* Max takeoff weight: 19,277 kg (42,500 lb[6])
* Powerplant: 1× Saturn-Lyulka AL-31FN or Woshan WS-10A "Taihang" turbofan
o Dry thrust: 89.43 kN / 89.17 kN (17,860 lbf / 20,050 lbf)
o Thrust with afterburner: 122.5 kN[6] / 129.4 kN (27,557 lbf / 29,101 lbf)

Performance

* Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 at altitude[6], Mach 1.2 at sea level[3]
* g-limits: +9/-3 g (+88/-29 m/s², +290/-97 ft/s²[3])
* Combat radius: 1,800 km[24] (1,118 mi
o Maximum range (without refueling): 3,000 km (1,864 mi[6])
* Service ceiling 20,000 m (65,600 ft[3])
* Wing loading: 335 kg/m² (64 lb/ft²;)
* Minimum thrust/weight:
o With afterburner: 0.98

Armament

* Guns: 2× 23 mm internal cannon
* Hardpoints: 11, 3 under each wing and 5 under the fuselage
* Missiles:
o Air-to-air: PL-8, PL-9, PL-11, PL-12
o Air-to-surface: PJ-9, YJ-9K, 90 mm unguided rocket launcher pods
* Bombs: laser-guided bombs (LT-2), glide bombs (LS-6) and unguided bombs
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The Lockheed CL-1200 Lancer was a late 1960s company-funded proposal for a new and improved F-104 Starfighter. It was intended for the export market and was in direct competition with the Northrop F-5E Tiger II, Dassault Mirage F1, Northrop YF-17 and the McDonnell Douglas F-4F Phantom. Lockheed hoped to capitalize on its F-104 production experience through commonality of parts and systems, and mimimize expense by reusing tooling, jigs and existing factory facilities. Lockheed was also experienced in consortium production and further hoped to continue this arrangement with the CL-1200. It was projected that CL-1200 deliveries could begin in 1972.[1]

Borrowing heavily from the F-104 design the new type featured a new high-mounted, increased span wing and low-mounted, enlarged tailplanes. Both features were incorporated to improve flight handling characteristics and short-field performance. The CL1200-1 was to have used an uprated version of the F-104 engine, the General Electric J79 with a later variant known as the CL1200-2 to be powered by a Pratt and Whitney TF-30 turbofan.

The CL-1200-1 was entered in the International Fighter Aircraft competition, but since the Northrop F-5 was named as the winner in November 1970, the primary market for the Lancer was lost, and the project was terminated with no examples completed.

The X-27 was an experimental designation assigned by the USAF [2] to a proposed high-performance research aircraft derived from the CL-1200 Lancer project. The X-27 was to have tested advanced technology high-performance engines and equipment. Again, the X-27 project did not proceed beyond the mock-up stage.

The CL-1200-2 (sometimes referred to as the CL-1600) was a proposed development of the X-27 for entry into the Lightweight Fighter Competition in 1972. The CL-1200-2 was not proceeded with when General Dynamics and Northrop designs were given contracts for the YF-16 and YF-17. The design was similar to the X-27 but had round intakes with shock cones and a different fin.

A further variant was proposed for the United States Navy was designated the CL-1400 or CL-1400N. It was based on the forward fuselage, intake and wing of the CL-1200-2 with the rear fuselage of the X-27.

CL-1200 Design

Intended as a successor to the F-104, the Lancer was another product from Lockheed's Skunk Works (the official alias for the company's Advanced Development Projects branch). Clarence L "Kelly" Johnson headed the department during this period, while Skunk works designers carried out all aerodynamic studies and wind tunnel testing on the type.

[edit] Airframe

The CL-1200 was to have kept the basic F-104 fuselage structure, increased in length to provide 46 percent extra internal fuel capacity. The fuselage extension consisted of a 30 inch plug between the standard F-104 front and center fuselage sections. Unlike the F-104, the rear fuselage section was to be constructed using titanium alloy for the frames, longerons and skinning around the jet exhaust. The major revision of the design was a shoulder-mounted wing of 53 percent larger area [5] which was also moved further aft. The new wing had a span of 29 feet and still featured leading and trailing edge flaps but gained new leading edge extensions, while the 10 degree anhedral of the Starfighter was retained. The flap system was designed to be either manual or automatic in operation; the system configuring them as required for load factor, airspeed and altitude. The new inner wing panels featured an additional trailing edge flap which doubled the area in comparison to the F-104; this would have improved short-field performance and lowered the landing speed. The Boundary Layer Control System of the F-104 was deemed unnecessary due to the increased flap area and was deleted. The outer wing panels were virtually identical to those of the F-104.

The tailplane was increased in area, split into two separate surfaces, and moved down from the top of the vertical fin to the lower rear fuselage in order to avoid the downwash effects from the high-set wing at high angles of attack which could have resulted in a deep stall condition. [6] The repositioning of the tailplane was also a measure taken to eliminate the Starfighter's known pitch-up problems. For commonality the landing gear, hydraulic and electrical systems remained essentially identical to the F-104. The strengthened windshield from the F-104S was to be used to withstand the aerodynamic heating of flight at higher Mach numbers. A two-seat trainer version was planned, as was a reconnaissance and all-weather interceptor version. This would have been achieved by simply using the existing forward fuselage sections and avionics from the TF-104G, RF-104G and F-104S.[7]

[edit] Powerplant

The initial variant of the Lancer was to be the CL-1200-1, powered by a single J79-GE-19 turbojet which was an uprated version of the engine used in the F-104. The second, more advanced variant, the CL-1200-2, was to have redesigned center and rear fuselage sections that could accommodate a modern turbofan engine as an improvement on the J79 turbojet. This turbofan engine was to be the Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-100 as used in the F-111F. The TF-30-P-100 would have provided a 60 percent increase in thrust at maximum power. The air intakes were located in the same position as on the F-104, but they were to employ variable shock cones with four-inch movement in place of the F-104's fixed cones to optimize engine performance over a wide speed range.[5]

[edit] Armament

The Lancer was intended to retain the 20 millimeter General Electric M61A1 cannon as its primary armament, although a 30 millimeter DEFA gun could be fitted as an alternative. For the ground-attack role nine weapons stations were provided: one under the fuselage, three under each wing, and one at each wingtip. Two Nord Aviation AS-30 missiles could be carried on the inner underwing pylons, while up to 12,000 pounds of ordnance could be carried on short-range ground-attack missions. Air-to-air missiles designed to be carried were AIM-7 Sparrow (maximum of four) and AIM-9 Sidewinder (typically, six to be carried with a maximimum of 10 possible). External fuel tanks of the same type and capacity as the F-104 could be carried on the wing tips and on underwing pylons to increase ferry range.[8]

[edit] Performance

The estimated gross weight was 35,000 pounds with maximum external load, and a top speed of 1,700 mph at 35,000 feet was envisaged. The takeoff run was estimated to be 1,450 feet in the intercept configuration; only 52 percent of that required for the F-104G with a similar improvement on landing performance due to the slower approach speed. Lockheed's chief designer "Kelly" Johnson projected that the CL-1200-2 would be superior in air-to-air combat to any known fighter.[8]

[edit] Cost

Lockheed carried out a comprehensive survey and believed that there was a worldwide market for an advanced design, low-price fighter aircraft over the decade of the 1970's.[1] Other aircraft manufacturers also recognized the opportunity and this was the reason for the fierce competition for sales at the time. Lockheed calculations showed that even a 10 percent share of this market (750 aircraft) would be a worthwhile venture; they further reasoned that development costs for the Lancer would be approximately 70.5 million US Dollars (1970). Unit costs depended on the size of the production run with $2.7 million being quoted in the case of a production run of 500 aircraft and $2.4 million for twice this number. Lockheed also researched the operating costs for the first 10 years of operation which included the provision of spares, ground equipment, technical manuals, and both maintenance and flight training. For a production run of 500 aircraft the support cost over 10 years was given as $330 million, reducing to $180 million if 1,000 Lancers were built. Operating costs over 10 years were also calculated. By adding the total of all these costs Lockheed claimed that their product offered significant savings over both the Dassault Mirage F-1 and the F-4F Phantom when their equivalent costs were shown.[5]

[edit] Project cancellations

[edit] CL-1200-1

In November 1970 the Northrop F-5-21 was named the winner of the International Fighter Aircraft competition; following which no interest was shown in the CL-1200 by existing F-104 operators and the project was then terminated.

[edit] CL-704 VTOL

Another cancelled Starfighter derivative, pre-dating the CL-1200 Lancer by eight years and not directly related, was the CL-704 VTOL strike and reconnaissance aircraft originally proposed in 1962 as a joint venture between Lockheed and Short Brothers and Harland Ltd. Designed purely for VTOL operations, it was to have had seven vertically-mounted Rolls Royce RB.181 lift engines in each of the enlarged wingtip pods; the main forward propulsion being provided by a Rolls Royce RB.168R mounted in the fuselage. The project was cancelled due to the numerous complexities involved and the highly advanced development of the Hawker P.1127.[9]

A larger-winged F-104 variant was proposed as an alternative to the MRCA (Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) then being designed as a multi-national European project. Nothing ever emerged, and the MRCA eventually became the Panavia Tornado.[9]

[edit] X-27 Development

The USAF planned to buy at least one experimental Lancer under the designation X-27 (called the CL-1600 by Lockheed[10]) for Mach 2.6 testing. The X-27 was to be similar in overall configuration to the Lancer, but was to feature modified engine air intakes having a rectangular shape. However, the X-27 program received almost no U.S. Congressional or Air Force support. Due to the lack of funding, no flight-capable aircraft were constructed. One full-scale mockup was built by Lockheed, although up to three fuselages had been converted prior to the shutdown of the project.

[edit] Specifications (CL-1200-2 / X-27)

Data from [1] NB: These are estimated figures given by Lockheed as neither type flew.

General characteristics

* Crew: One
* Length: 57 ft 3 in / 53 ft 2 in (17.45 / 16.2 m)
* Wingspan: 29 ft 2 in / 28 ft 7 in (8.89 / 8.7 m)
* Height: 17 ft 2 in / 16 ft 2 in (5.23 / 4.9 m)
* Wing area: 300ft² (28m²;)
* Airfoil: Bi-convex
* Empty weight: 17,885 / 17,250 lb (8,112/ 7,800 kg)
* Loaded weight: 24,385 / 32,500 lb (11,061 / 16,000 kg)
* Max takeoff weight: 35,000lb (15,900kg)
* Powerplant: 1× Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-100 turbofan
o Dry thrust: 15,000 lbf (66.7 kN)
o Thrust with afterburner: 25,000 lbf (111.2 kN)

Performance

* Maximum speed: 1,477 / 1,260 knots at 35,000 ft (Mach 2.57 / 2.19) (1,700 / 1,450 mph, 2,720 / 2,330 km/h)
* Range: 367 nm combat radius with 4,000 lb (8,800 kg) bombload / 1,836 nm range (420 / 2,100 mi, 680 / 3,400 km)
* Service ceiling In excess of 60,000 ft (>18,300 m)
* Rate of climb: 60,000ft/min (300m/s)
* Takeoff run: 1,450 ft (440 m)
* Landing run: 2,060 ft (930 m)

Armament

CL-1200-2 only:

* 1 × 20 mm General Electric M61 Vulcan cannon with 725 rounds
* 1 × 30 mm DEFA cannon with 400 rounds as alternative.
* Offensive load of up to 12,000
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