Saturday, 29 August 2009

So why can't we?

Richard North posts the Excellent Defence of the Realm Blog that our fast jet ground attack aircraft are fast wearing out and that RAF-types are looking for old fashioned piston 'n propeller alternatives such as the Hawker Beechcraft and Brazilian Tucano for this ground attack role.

BAe of course sold Hawker to Raytheon some time ago, but anyone with childhood Airfix experience will recognise the Hawker pedigree; the Typhoon was one of the last war's finest ground attack aircraft.

Is is so far beyond our national capabilities to develop and produce a modern piston 'n propeller ground attack aircraft? Perhaps with a Rolls-Royce engine even? If Bob Jobsworth offered a £1m design prize with the condition that the aircraft went into production within two years and with costs within a pre-set envelope could British industry rise to the challenge? Why can't we?


Richard said...

Thanks for the link ... and nice pic of the tiffy.

You are closer to home than you think. One of the contenders for the "minicoin" is the Super Tucano, an uprated version of the Tucano T-1 used by the RAF as a basic trainer.

The RAF aircraft were built under license by Shorts of Belfast, continuing a long tradition of aircraft-making in the city.

Building Tucano bombers under license in the same way would be a welcome boost to the province, and keep that tradition alive.

Anonymous said...

But who'd run them eh? The RAF ? (rofl) - a wholesale change in the way things are done is well overdue with somebody with a modicum of backbone in charge (i.e. not one of our utterly worthless politicians or civil servants)

The vocabulary needs an overhaul too - if cretins like Jonathan Woss can swear on TV - I think I'd like to hear somebody like Ex Colonel Tim Collins (to keep the NI link alive) holding forth in an unexpurgated way - he doesn't do politic speak well at all - and likely has something worthwhile to swear about.

The BBC would have a fainting fit....

The Tucano is a reasonable idea but the first, top thing is to reduce the REMFs and PONTIs to manageable proportions regardless of Afghanistan.

What are the numbers Richard? As in civvies vs uniforms vs pointy end folk? And how do they stack up against "best of breed" ?

I have a feeling the numbers will reveal much to worry about.

Bill Quango MP said...

Wasn't the Typhoon a failure?
I mean, it was the spitfire replacement , but had very poor dogfighting capability, high levels of vibration that caused the tail to fall off in early models and carbon monoxide seeping into the cockpit that meant oxygen masks were required to be worn at all times.

That it became a good ground attack plane was a bit of luck, as it hadn't been intended to be one.
Good performance below 20,000ft - steady gun platform, adequate range, and as a low level attacker its poor rate of climb didn't matter allowed it to come good.

The Argentines had the Pucara piston low level attack planes at Stanley. I don't think they did much and am sure small arms fire took out at least one.

Why would a small ground attack plane be better than helicopters?

Richard said...

I thought planes were used by carpenters?

Yes, the Typhoon had teething troubles ... but it morphed into the Tempest and then the Sea Fury - one of the few piston aircraft to shoot down a Mig-15.

Why light fixed wing instead of a helo? ... cheaper, faster, less maintenance, longer endurance, less vulnerable and higher survivability.

Jackart said...

Completely off the topic of this post, but Damn you Raedwald. I shall have my revenge next year...

Anonymous said...

If I may interject... May I suggest a twin engined design capable of operating with up to two crew (a pilot plus an observer/weapons operator). A Mosquito or Brigand type. Twin engined as this increases loiter time and ability to return if damaged. If Single seat, a Hornet may be a basis to proceed. Engines - a basic turbo prop pattern, cheap to operate. Both have the advantage of a higher payload if required.
TTFN - Michael (Too bone idle to create an account!)

Anonymous said...

My uncle Norman flew Typhoons - didn't like 'em. Unreliable H24 engines and not a patch on the Spits and Hurricanes that he also flew. He did however fly some (provable and logged) raids into Germany to rocket up some munition trains, with extended tanks - papier mache would you believe! Shot down twice, taken PoW twice and escaped twice, his log is in the imperial war museum these days.

Coney Island

Anonymous said...

The Americans found the most effective ground attack aircraft in Vietnam was the old A1 Skyraider.

Could carry huge amount of big bangy stuff, long loiter time, fast enough to get to target when army in spot of bother and slow enough to hit what needed hitting (usually - they were Americans), and could take lots of stick and still get home.

I'd bet the Yanks still have the jigs somewhere - not sure about engine - maybe a turbo prop would do.