<XMP><BODY></xmp>Buzzard COIN aircraft

Updated 29-4-15

Buzzard Counter Insurgency/Multirole aircraft.

        Although an important role, the mission of counter insurgency air support is usually delegated to a mixture of civilian and training aircraft that are often less than idea.

        Air support of such operations falls into three categories:-
  1. Airborne strike. Because insurgents often operate close to civilian populations or in areas of value such strikes need to me made with considerable precision to minimise collateral damage.
  2. Reconnaissance/Observation. In this role it is an advantage if the aircraft can operate from forward landing strips and work in close co-ordination with the ground units they are supporting. There should be excellent visibility with seat for a human observer.
  3. Transportation. Although one usually associates aircraft such as the C-130 with this role, there is also a requirement for smaller aircraft to insert tracking, OP or investigation teams, liaison duties and Casevac. Obviously the capability to land in poorly prepared areas is an advantage for such operations.
To meet all these requirements an aircraft should have the following characteristics:-        Although helicopters have proved very useful in the COIN mission they cannot shoulder all of the burden due to their high cost and maintenance requirements. This is explained in more detail on this page.

        The aircraft type I propose I call the “Buzzard”.

        The Buzzard is a high wing monoplane capable of landing on an unprepared field and with a cabin capable of carrying several passengers, stretchers or a useful cargo. A small combat team of paratroopers should be able to jump from the aircraft without worry of static-line entanglement with props or tailfins.
        At each end of the cabin is mounted a piston/turboprop engine, one driving a pusher propeller, the other a tractor propeller, possibly ducted to facilitate static-line parachute jumps. The tricycle undercarriage is retractable and the tail is supported by twin boons from the wing.
        The plane will look like a enlarged version of the Cessna 337 Skymaster/O-2 Milirole, but with much more powerful engines. Mike Sparks suggests a Wren/Robinson STOL conversion kit to land/take-off from football field-sized short fields.

Skymaster History
Skymaster Performance
Undercarriage raising
        The use of two engines gives redundancy against damage and also allows a heavier weapon load to be carried. Given that this configuration gives two engines with only the frontal drag of one, a speed of at least 400mph would be not unreasonable to expect.
        The same layout was used on the Dornier 335 Pfeil, which with two 1800hp engines and a weight of 7,260-10,000kg could reach 474mph/763kph.


        This high speed potential of the design enhances both the aircraft's strategic and tactical potential. In other words, it takes less time to reach a fight and is harder to shoot down when it gets there.
        The aircraft will be equipped with numerous wing and centreline hardpoints but should also have a built in gun armament. This may be constructed as a pair of packs that fit into the origin of the tail boons.
        A configuration of two 20mm cannon and four 7.62mm machine guns has been suggested, giving an armament equal to the Argentine Pucara. Alternative configurations include four .50 calibre MGs; two 30mm cannon and two 7.62mm MGs; six 7.62mm MGs or two 7.62mm Miniguns.
        A flexible machinegun mount can be mounted in the cabin and this could be stabilised for precision fire at ground targets when collateral damage needs to be minimised and can be used to deliver Orbiting Fire. Ideal armament might be a belly-mounted 20mm or 25mm cannon turret, similar to that used on some OV-10s.
        Provision to fit pontoons or skis should be included, as should be the capability to fit a pod-mounted radar for maritime patrol missions.
        The versitility of the Buzzard offers some interesting possibilities. An aircraft could provide support fire to a ground unit with missiles, bombs, rockets and gunfire. Once the action is completed the Buzzard could land on a suitable nearby area and pick up wounded for high speed Casevac.

        The Schweizer RU-38B that has been adopted by USSOUTHCOM is nearly a Buzzard.

Schweizer RU-38B
Schweizer RU-38B Twin Condor

        In many ways it resembles the Junkers Ju EF112 once proposed.

Other ideas.

        Black Widow II
        My friend Ed suggests that there should also be a larger fuselaged brother to the Buzzard.
        Like the Buzzard, it would incorporate built in defensive and offensive equipment and twin tail boons. Ed suggests mounting the engines at the front of the tail booms in the manner of the P61 Black Widow - I've suggested a Pushme-pullme engine pod above the wings. In either case this allows nose mounted armament and rear cargo doors.
        Another thing this allows for is a flying boat hull, making this a true amphibian without the need of a pontoon kit.
        Note. since this idea was first discussed the name "Black Widow II" has been adopted for the YF-23. The concept of a bigger brother to the Buzzard is still valid, though currently unnamed!
        Another possible "Bigger Buzzard" is the OV-12 modification of the C-12 proposed by Mike Sparks in one of his KillerBees articles.

        During the Vietnam war a series of observation aircraft were developed with features that reduced their acoustic signature. These were known as the QT-1, QT-2, Q-Star and YO-3A.

        While I feel the Buzzard would benefit from incorporating some of these design features, I also see a role for a dedicated night patrol aircraft. This will have many of the design features of the Buzzard, but will probably be a strike and observation aircraft and not have a transport role. It is possible this will be a four seater aircraft (pilot, co-pilot and two sensor specialists).

Schweizer SA2-37B "Son of Q-Star"

        A useful candidate for the NightOwl might be an adapted OV-1 Mohawk. This surveillance and attack aircraft is already noted for its quietness (Viet cong called it the "Whispering Death"). With muffled engines, longer wings and redesigned propellers this may be improved on further.


        STOL transport
        There is also an obvious requirement for a larger transport aircraft with rough field STOL capabilities. In certain situations there may be a requirement for an aircraft to land in hostile territory, deploy or recover personnel and quickly take off. Useful features would include:-        An aircraft that comes close to meeting these requirements is the Israeli Arava.


        The Arava's capability to mount armament has also seen it used in a Gunship role in the manner of the AC-47 Spooky. The Arava uses .50 BHMGs. Alternate armaments include 7.62mm mini-guns and Automatic Grenade launchers.
        A likely aircraft to be adapted to the above configuration is the C-23 Sherpa in service with the National Guard

C-23 Sherpa

        Alternate choices include the C-2 Greyhound....
G2mil on Greyhounds
C-2 specifications
C-2 gallery
        ....or the CASA C-212 Aviocar
C-212 at Airliners.net
Maritime partol C-212
CASA C-212

         And the C-27J Spartan, capable of take-off and landing on unprepared surfaces of 500m.
C-27 Spartan transport

        The Sukhoi Su-80 also looks promising.
Sukhoi S-80
Sukhoi S-80
Sukhoi S-80

        The An-2 may also see COIN applications, at least as a transport.


        COIN Fighter.
        Although the main need for aircraft in a COIN campaign will be for versatile air platforms such as the Buzzard there may still be a requirement for dedicated strike aircraft. This role is often taken by attack variants of jet trainers but many of these aircraft require a prepared field to operate from.
        It is possible that a turboprop aircraft, similar to a World War 2 fighter may prove a better alternative to the requirement of a low cost, high performance close support aircraft.
        I'm tempted to suggest something like the P-51 Mustang, though an aircraft with the cloth and dope construction of the Hurricane may be more appropriate. Interestingly, P-51s were being used in this role by some airforces at least as recently as the mid sixties. An updated model was the Piper PA-48 Enforcer


        A modern aircraft would need to add features such as modern defensive systems and ejector seats.
        A likely candidate for such an attack aircraft might be based on the
Raytheon T6 Texan II. or Brazilian Embraer Tucano used by the RAF. This page was one of the first to suggest a broader role for the T-6. Carlton Meyer expands nicely on this concept here. The Cessna T-37C and A-37 may also be used in a COIN role.

A-37 at www.combataircraft.com
A-37 at Warbird Alley.
A-37 Association.

        There is a good case for re-introducing the A-37 as a close support aircraft. My personal suggestion is that the nose 7.62mm Mini-gun be replaced by a vision and designation system rather like the TADS of the AH-64. For gun armament the aircraft would carry one or more pods with either Gecal .50 Gatlings or a 30x113mm cannon such as the M230. Main armament would be 2.75" (Hydra 70mm) FFAR pods and missiles, including laser-guided Hydra and Starstreak missiles for a dual ground attack and self defence role.

        Several people who have read this article in G2mil have suggested re-introduction of the A-1 Skyraider. I've heard of worse ideas, but would suggest that maybe a modern version of the Dornier 335 Pfeil that shares components with the Buzzard would be a good idea. Like the Pfeil this version would have an internal weapons bay. In more conventional wars such an aircraft could serve as escort to large formations of helicopters.

        Rhodesian COIN tactics with combined force of parachute and helicopter landed infantry and fixed and rotary wing attack aircraft. The aircraft refered to as "Lynxes" are in fact Cessna 337s.

Mike Sparks' article on low cost air support platforms.

Other Support Aircraft Ideas.
Orbiting Fire and Turreted Gun-pods
The Groundhog
The Superbronco
The Ground attack Horten
Autogyros and Light Helicopters
ATT Gunship
A10 cactus airforce
Rotary Close air support
Maneuver Air Support (MAS)
Maneuver Air Support 2
Air Mech Strike-Close Support Aircraft

By the Author of the Scrapboard :

Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence

Available in Handy A5 and US Trade Formats.

Crash Combat. Second Edition with additional content.
Epub edition. Second Edition with additional content.
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