Arsenal Aircraft Concept

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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quicksilver

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element1loop

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Unread post06 Nov 2019, 04:44

... He argues a B-52 is a better platform because it offers space for munitions inside and on its wings, and can carry many at a time. “An arsenal plane does not necessarily need to be stealthy or fast, but it needs to have a large payload capacity,” Harrison said. Mark Gunzinger, director of future aerospace concepts and capabilities assessments at AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, agrees that turning to mobility or a commercial-derivative aircraft wouldn’t be practical when the Air Force could use B-52s or B-1s instead. ...


I don't get this. The arsenal plane concept is basically a proposal to solve a growing need for more standoff-strike aircraft with a much bigger than normal surge payload capacity than existing bombers. So people are counter-proposing to use the inadequate numbers of lower payload bombers in service, that are effectively mini-'arsenal' planes now but inadequate in numbers already, as a 'solution' to not having enough in-service stand-off strike bombers ... in-service ... to strike? :doh:

They seem to want to miss the point of why a supplemental standoff 'bomber' (arsenal plane) is being proposed in the first place. Surely they're not claiming they already have enough bombers for such contingencies and surge-attack requirements?

“If it's used for air-to-air munitions, then externally mounted weapons would be ideal. But many mobility platforms were not designed to handle external payloads, so it could require extensive modifications,” Harrison said in an email.


:shock: WTF? Why bring A2A into it? Does anyone seriously think a B-52 or B-1B is suitable for A2A BVR missile fighting against the PLAAF and PLAN? Or any other wide-body support type?

“If the arsenal plane is intended to carry air-to-ground weapons, then they could deploy from the rear ramp of mobility platforms, which would not require extensive modifications.”


Which is a cheap supplemental stand-off attack bomber, exactly what's being called for. And there are not enough C-17A. So it would have to be an adaptation of a commercial aircraft. And what commercial new-build aircraft has a weapons bay today? The P-8A comes to mind. But it's useful payload is less than the F-35 @ 19,800 lb. 747 is basically out of production, and a 767 is a KC-46.

So military then, KC-46 payload is only 65,000 lb (higher if not used as a tanker), A-400 is frankly not worth even mentioning, C-130J useful load is 72,000 lb but it's ~120 knots slower, KC-30A is ~99,000 lb (non-fuel) payload (higher if not used as a tanker), and C-17A 170,900 lb (out of production for years).

The C-130 seems the most viable option and price, but the least suitable in terms of tactical speed. Now I see why the image in the article shows a C-130 with jet engines, and a different wing (and payload should rise doing that), which further supplements the C-17A fleet, in all sorts of ways from there ... a very interesting option, IMO.

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[In the last few days two recent former heads of RAAF started talking in the national Aust media about the need for RAAF to enhance strike regional capabilities and to obtain a 'bomber', plus to increase defense spending to 2.5% of GDP to get required strike capabilities in place in the face of sharply rising threat. An escorted standoff-strike 'arsenal aircraft' may fit the bill, at least until something VLO is developed or else becomes available, like on the tail of B-21 production.]
Accel + Alt + VLO + DAS + MDF + Radial Distance = LIFE . . . Always choose Stealth
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madrat

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Unread post06 Nov 2019, 11:15

Why buy a new airframe when so many used commercial airframes can be converted for a fraction of the cost?
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mixelflick

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Unread post06 Nov 2019, 15:16

madrat wrote:Why buy a new airframe when so many used commercial airframes can be converted for a fraction of the cost?


Even better...

I bet the boneyard has what's needed. Lots of variety to pick from, I'm betting KC/RC-135's or similar would fit the bill. Or, they could bring back the C-141 Starlifter (a personal favorite). As an A2G arsenal plane, it's (too thin) cargo bay would finally not be a detriment.

There are loads of C-5's there too. Hell it's one of the world's largest air forces!
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element1loop

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Unread post07 Nov 2019, 04:41

Whatever it is, it has to be escorted by 5th-gens, and to have up to the minute generator capacity, datalinks, avionics, computers, sensors, comprehensive self-protection capabilities (including a tactical DIRCM), comms relay capabilities and to fire distributed network-connected weapons at real-time externally provided targets, and provide updates to weapons, and relay weapon sensor data back to the network.

It must also have a comprehensive self-prioritizing real-time regional tactical threat display, so pilots can fly tactically to avoid or else slow a rate of interception by enemy aircraft or missiles heading toward it, so its escort can deal with these.

i.e. it must be a fully 5th-gen enabled aircraft which can operate interchangeably in that strike role with F-22A and F-35A/B/C to escort, and to relay their targets to it, along with data from VLO ISR drones and tactical satellite sensor updates.

To my mind this requires a new-build of an existing in-production logistics type or at least the upgrade of an operating and thoroughly modern logistics type, like C-17A.

A C-130 turboprop with engines optimized for a higher speed at higher altitude (i.e. probably rendering it unsuitable for the normal range of logistics operations) should burn considerably less fuel than fitting turbofans to a C-130, but may achieve turbofan-like sustained cruise speeds (or close enough to it) to be efficiently escorted by F-35A/B/C or Raptor.
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madrat

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Unread post07 Nov 2019, 13:11

The C-130 will never be efficient at high speeds without new propulsion and new wings. The shaping of the wings is optimized for lift with those open propellers at the current flight regime. As you increase the speed to say 500 knots, the wing design works against you. So now you need new wings. So you move to swept wings, your center of gravity just shifted and you have a new plane. With swept wings you now have something optimized for the higher speeds, but now the nose is a problem. If your C-130 has that old snub nose it just isn't going to do well at 500+ knots. So now you practically built a new plane. Why not choose something suitable from the beginning?

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