<XMP><BODY></xmp> Future tactical air transport and gunship

        Most future military transport needs could possibly be met by three classes of vehicles.        To Mike Sparks' comments on the future Hercules, I'd like to add the following:-

        A useful feature would be a nose door in addition to the rear ramp. This will allow rapid unloading of vehicles in a tactical situation, and allow one cargo to be loaded as another is still being unloaded. The pilot and loadmaster will be assisted by cameras mounted on parts of the airframe.
        In-flight re-fueling capability should be fitted as standard.
        Having the undercarriage in pods on the outside of the hull offers the option of interchangeable landing gear. For peacetime operations on prepared fields, wheels can be fitted, while for tactical landings on unprepared areas, a tracked system can be used. This may be something as simple as a set of tracks that fit over the usual wheels.
        The airforce should also invest in some transports that have an air cushion landing system. The ability to land on a beach or paddy field will be very useful, both for tactical operations and humanitarian aid.
        I like the idea of a tailless configuration that uses body lift. When flying over oceans it should be possible to use Wing in Surface Effect to conserve fuel. The flying boat Dornier-X actually made most of its transatlantic flight in this way.

        The transport aircraft based Gunship has proven itself as a very useful system.

AC-130 in Vietnam
AC-47 Photobook.

        Mike Sparks has suggested additional missions for such aircraft –suppression of enemy forces on LZs and airfields.


        If designing a new aircraft from scratch, it should be possible to build a purpose built Gunship at the same time, offering several advantages but utilizing many common components. The wing and landing gear are probably going to be the same, but the hull can be slimmer and optimized for weapon and sensor mounting. Systems such as SLAR can have antennae built into the skin of the aircraft. The Gunship may be sleeker and faster than its transport and tanker sisters.
        Since the Gunship is less likely to land on unprepared fields, it may have jet engines instead of props. Or it may use a ramjet system to give it more flight speed when needed. Ramjets usually require an aircraft to reach at least 200mph to function, however.

        The ATT-Gunship would have two configurations of armament and can be changed from one to the other in a few man-hours.
        The first configuration is the "traditional" one mounting most of the armament to fire from the port side of the aircraft. A suggested armament is two GAU-12 25mm cannon, a Bofors 40mm Gun and a 105mm Howitzer. Instead of the M102 used on current aircraft the howitzer may be based on the M119 or the Italian Model 56 Pack howitzer.
        The aircraft is likely to also mount turreted laser designators and may also carry missiles –either medium/long range air to air missiles or Hellfire based threat suppression missiles. The later have a multi-mode seeker that can home in on SAM and AAA systems. By constructing a purpose built body for the Gunship variant a Missile bay can be incorporated into the design

        The second configuration is the airfield attack mode that mounts weapons on both sides. Some of the guns will have floor or roof mounted rail systems so that they can be moved easily. A similar system will facilitate ammo handling.
        Each side has a 25mm cannon and either a 40mm gun or a howitzer. Vacant gunports may mount weapons such as the .50 Gatling or the ASP 30mm cannon. The Howitzer is mounted on the side that intelligence reports indicate it will be most useful on in the coming mission.

        The Gunship has two other weapon stations. Unlike the Transport version it does not have a set of nose doors. Instead the nose mounts a battery of rapid fire guns that sweep the ground ahead of the attacking aircraft.
        Above the tail ramp of the aircraft is a remote controlled 20mm M61 or 25mm GAU-12. This can be used to engage anti-aircraft systems that attempt to fire on the departing Gunship. If the nose and tail guns are turret mounted they could also be used to supplement the fire of side mounted guns.
        Weapons can also be fired out of the open rear ramp, and this can be used to deploy large capacity FAE or Strategic-Smoke bombs. An ejector system for smaller bombs may also be possible, and this may be an application for the Rearbombs Carlton Meyer suggests.


Additional Comments on Rear Bombs.


Air Cushion Landing Gear.


Flying Wing Airliners and Transports

        The Fairchild XC-120 was an experimental adaption of the C-119 transport aircraft using a detachable pod or "pack".
        This is a feature that should be considered for a C-130 replacement. A transporter could release a pod on a theatre airfield and take off again almost immediately. Use of pods would also increase range since the aircraft would be subject to less drag on the return flight.
Several models of pod are possible:-
        It is obviously possible to change an aircraft's configuration just by changing the pod. The airframe without a pod fitted may serve as a bomber for low-intensity conflicts. In fact the entire pod could be replaced by a massive FAE bomb.

         Most of the pods mentioned above would have the bottom configured to create aerodynamic lift. Another possibilty is to have the bottom of the pod shaped so that the aircraft becomes a seaplane/amphibian, useful for SAR and ASW missions. This might incorporate some of the features of the Blackburn B 20.

Other Support Aircraft Ideas.
The Buzzard and other aircraft.
The Groundhog
The Superbronco
The Ground attack Horten
Autogyros and Light Helicopters
A10 cactus airforce
Rotary Close air support
Maneuver Air Support (MAS)
Maneuver Air Support 2
Air Mech Strike-Close Support Aircraft

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