New fighter bomber! Design contest 3 – Requirement 570 (part 1)

v3CMF-RAFlowvis.56.jpg

Due to AWOL judges and other issues, this is a very late article. But, I guess delays are entirely appropriate for fighter projects. In 2019 we asked you to design a fighter-bomber aircraft using only technology available in 2019. The aircraft must have a range of at least 400 nautical miles. It must have a minimum top speed over Mach 1.6. It should carry at least one cannon and four air-to-air missiles/and/or 7000kg of munitions. The type should be relatively cheap to build, easy to maintain, and should enjoy a short development period.

 

Jim Smith

Jim Smith had significant technical roles in the development of the UK’s leading military aviation programmes from ASRAAM and Nimrod, to the JSF and Eurofighter Typhoon. He was also Britain’s technical liaison to the British Embassy in Washington, covering several projects including the Advanced Tactical Fighter contest. His latest book is available here.

Thomas Newdick

Aviation writer and Editor of Air Forces Monthly. Author of many aviation titles including Aircraft of the Cold War 1945-1991. Thomas has a particular interest in Russian aviation and allegedly has a collection of Su-11 parts at a secret location in Suffolk.

Hush-Kit

Introduction by Jim Smith
What might be being sought here? Well, my interpretation is in the F-16/Classic Hornet replacement class. Compared to the F-16, Rqt 570 is expected to carry 30% more external stores but have slightly less speed and less range than the clean F-16. Compared to the Classic (F/A-18 C/D) the external stores load out is similar, and clean aircraft range is less. I do wonder whether the range of 400nm quoted should have been a mission radius of 400 nm. For M 1.6 max speed, it is not necessary to go beyond a simple pitot intake, but 7000kg of external stores is going to require some significant hardpoints, and probably at least 1 of these could usefully be ‘wet’, i.e. capable of carrying an external tank.
Given the requirement to be relatively cheap to build, easy to maintain, and with a short development period, I am expecting to see neither LO aircraft nor exotic configurations. This is not to say that measures to reduce radar and IR signatures should be absent – just that the design should not be dominated by these requirements. I would expect a capable Defensive Aids suite – after all, this is a fighter -bomber, and must be expected to survive AAA and MANPADS. So, a Gen 4.5-ish aircraft, with smart sensors, good defensive aids, plenty of hardpoints, but expected to operate in a relatively permissive environment. The range and speed requirements are relatively modest. No field requirement is stated, but with a cannon and four AAM, good manoeuvre performance and a radar are implied.
Assessment
 I will assess on:
Aesthetics – my biased opinion on the look of the aircraft. Tough, purposeful and practical are the sort of adjectives that are desirable.
Originality – In this competition, I do want to see something different from an F-18E or a souped up Jaguar. But going too far into exotic configurations will risk losing points elsewhere. This is my special category, Thomas Newdick will judge the aircraft on its ability to replace a Jaguar, Hush-Kit on the aircraft as a display aircraft.

Effectiveness – In this context I mean Mission Effectiveness. Can the aircraft carry enough, far enough, with appropriate defensive aids to survive in the fighter-bomber role?
Cost/Risk – Cheap to build, easy to maintain, with a short development period. Here’s where the super exotic designs will lose points.
I’m going to allocate 25 points to each of these.

F/A-28 Lanna-Morgan

20190728_171049 (1).jpg

The offspring of Official Requirement 570, the F/A28 Lanna-Morgan is a low cost, modular designed fighter bomber. Powered by a Saturn AL-37FU and sporting an effective and above all, optional assortment of navigation and ordnance delivery systems, it is optimized for low to medium level attack missions,
but can also be configured for short range aircraft interception.
Even without the use of AAM’s and the(again optional)Helmet Cueing System, the 28 packs a punch, in the form of an 30mm. rotating cannon, and, with a total of 11 hardpoints, two of them for additional avionics or self defence systems, along with optional Laser,TV and Low Level Attack designators, becomes a highly capable and configurable Weapons System, one that undoubtedly suits its costumer’s needs, and, more importantly, its pocket.

— David Machado

Aesthetics

Jim ‘Sonic’ Smith

my biased opinion on the look of the aircraft. Tough, purposeful and practical are the sort of adjectives that are desirable.Tough and purposeful – yes, scores reasonably here. But somehow the design does not look right. The moment arm for the rather low sweep fin does not look sufficient, and the lack of a radar will not only reduce effectiveness in the air combat role, it also gives a less than purposeful look to the front end of the aircraft. Also, there appears to have been not the slightest nod given to area ruling, which is likely to increase wave drag and possibly limit max speed. Appears to have a simple pitot intake, but it is not clear whether the engine face is directly exposed.
Overall, a modest 10.

Thomas Newdick 

Combination of orthodox and more unconventional design features leaves it a little hard to determine how this one might handle. Extra point for a Jolly Roger on the fin. 8

 

Hush-Kit

Looks awkward. Can’t quite imagine how the undercarriage would unfold but it would likely look even gawkier on wheels. Imagine that when old and dirty it might have a kind of ‘ugly beauty’ in the same manor as the Greek A-7s. As it stand it looks a 80s BBC Micro computer had a child with a Jaguar.

A generous 9

Special category 
JS: Originality 

In this competition, I do want to see something different from an F-18E or a souped up Jaguar. But going too far into exotic configurations will risk losing points elsewhere. This is something like an uglier F-16 with no radar and relatively small leading-edge strakes. The design is a little derivative, without being avant garde, and appears to have accepted the challenge of making an F-16 look ordinary.
Perhaps a generous 15.

 

HK: Aerobatic team mount 

My special category is how good it would be as the mount of a fourship display team. The noise of four AL-37 would be pretty good, you can get an idea from the similarly engined five-ship Chinese August 1st J-10 team. The draggy shape and higher wing-loading of the F/A-28 may suggest a less spectacular but distinctive team. 14.

Would I swap my Jaguar for this?

TN – Put a radar in it and a Western engine, and we might have a deal. 26

Effectiveness

JS – Good points here are mission equipment, pylons and defensive aids. I would have preferred to see a radar fitted, because the aircraft has to be able to target its AAMs, and with relatively modest energy performance (due to relatively high drag configuration and external stores) these would best be used BVR, thus implying a radar, or very capable connectivity with third party targeting. The range requirement is quite modest, and should be achievable, although an external fuel tank might be needed if the range is to be achieved when both stores and missiles are carried.
With pros and cons, a provisional score of 16.

TN – Thrust-vectoring engine is a nice touch but of dubious value for the assigned mission – although it may be needed to help the pilot slave the upper-fuselage conformal LANTIRN pod onto the target. LANTIRN is a bit old hat by now, and could clearly do with a radar. 10

HK – The absence of a radar is notable here, leaving the aircraft very vulnerable and with limited SA unless it is well served by data-linking from other platforms. Whereas a low observable aircraft could further enhance its stealth by omitting a radar, this slab-sided conventionally tailed design is definitely not a stealth aircraft. 13.

Cost/Risk

Cheap to build, easy to maintain, with a short development period. Here’s where the super exotic designs will lose points.
The design scores well here. The ‘for but not necessarily with’ optional and re-configurable sensors and weapons loads provide considerable flexibility. While effectiveness, particularly in the fighter role, may be questionable, the development looks relatively straightforward, although there is likely to be some risk in making the cockpit displays reconfigurable to optimise use of the various optional weapons and sensors. If this is ‘all done by software’, which is probably the correct mission system answer, development time, risk and cost will all increase.
A genuine effort has been made here, so 20 points is awarded for this category.

TN – Looks affordable, but the combination of Russian and Western technology could prove a stumbling block in terms of support and maintainability.  13

JC – It could conceivably be cheap, as it is technologically and aerodynamically conservative. 14.

Chimera

1-1.png

This entry was designed by committee through a series of polls by the anons of the Ace Combat General, aka /aceg/, on 4chan’s /vg/ board. I have submitted it on behalf of the thread to the contest, but I have played as big a part in its design process as any other anon who participated in the polls. As such, it should be credited to /aceg/ as a whole.
— Gabriele Princiotta.

“Chimera was designed to bring together the latest innovations in armament, avionics, and propulsion into the cheapest package possible. Its large compound delta wings, combined with its monstrous Aurelius engines, give it excellent manoeuvrability despite its size, while its immense payload and state-of-the-art WonderEgg radar allow it to accomplish any mission one could conceivably think of.”

Crew: 1
Length: 75 ft (22.86m)
Wingspan: 48 ft (14.63 m)
Height: 15ft (4.57 m)
Wing area: 757 ft² (70.33 m²)
Empty weight: 41,000 lb (18,600 kg)
Loaded weight: 59,350lb (26,921 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: ~91,000lb (41,277 kg)
Fuel capacity: ~20,400 lb (9,250 kg) internally
Powerplant: 2 × Aurelius MA21 Afterburning turbofans with 3D thrust vectoring
Dry thrust: 27,000 lbf each (120.1 kN) each
Thrust with afterburner: 38,000 lbf (169 kN) each

Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 (1,450 mph, 2330 km/h)
Cruise speed: 850 mph (1370 km/h)
Combat Range: 650 mi (1,050 km)
Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (20,000 m)
Rate of climb: 60,000 ft/min (300 m/s)

Armament
Guns: 2× 25 mm GAU-22/A 4-barrel rotary cannon, 360 rounds each
Hardpoints: 18
2x Wingtip Hardpoints – 350lb capacity each
2x Underwing Hardpoints – 5,000lb capacity each
12x Nacelle Hardpoints – 600lb capacity each
2x Centreline Hardpoints – 5,000lb capacity each

Avionics and miscellaneous:
WonderEgg R18 AESA radar (430km/1,5 m^2), IR8 FLIR/IRST
Pan-Ea ALERT Airborne Defensive System (ESM, RWR, ECM, LWR, MAW, chaff and flares)

 

 

Jim Smith
Aesthetics

JS: my biased opinion on the look of the aircraft. Tough, purposeful and practical are the sort of adjectives that are desirable. Well, Chimera is a sensational looking aircraft. It is, of course, with its vast size and huge equipment list, going to be ruinously expensive to develop, operate and acquire. The look is very attractive, with the exception of the tail fins, which look as if they are trying to be stealthy, without the benefits of being edge-aligned with anything else.
There is no doubt a high score is justified – on looks alone, it’s superb.
I’m giving it a 20, largely because the fins let it down.

TN – Looks great and I like the 1970s Luftwaffe-style camouflage. Wait, are those Burmese Air Force markings? 21

HK: Lots of YF-23 and Su-57 in there, with a Blackbirdy nose all contribute to a high score. Weird and sleek, and most importantly doesn’t look like an F-16 or an F-35.

Score 22.
Originality
Well, what’s not to like in a Sukhoi 27 derivative with F-16XL wings and the tail of the XQ-58 Valkyrie? Quite a lot. Yes, the look is superb, yes, it’s going to comfortably exceed all the performance requirements, but no it’s not original, and it’s going to be ruinously expensive. The particular pieces may not have been joined together in the one airframe, but this is an assemblage of other aircraft.
I’m being generous and giving it a score of 10.

Aerobatic team

A good-looking (extremely loud) aircraft with spritely performance – this should be a fantastic display aircraft.

21

Would I swap my Jaguar for this?

Only if my country has enormous previously undiscovered gold reserves. 10
Effectiveness – In this context I mean Mission Effectiveness. Can the aircraft carry enough, far enough, with appropriate defensive aids to survive in the fighter-bomber role?
There is no doubt that this sort of configuration would deliver the sort of performance claimed. The large blended wing and the fuselage can hold the claimed fuel, and coupled with low wave drag, big engines, variable geometry intakes etc, Mach 2+ performance for the clean aircraft would be a breeze. The hardpoint capacity exceeds the requirement by 80%, two guns are carried where one is required, and the combat range exceeds the requirement by 60%. If I were going to be picky with the claimed performance, I would expect even greater range, and possibly somewhat lower climb rate. But who cares – it will accomplish all the requirements with ease.
No real option but to give this 25.

TN – I am going to take the word of the designer on this, and assume it can accomplish any mission I can conceivably think of. So, 25.

Cost/Risk

JC – Not cheap. High risk. Massive overkill for the requirement 9

JS – Here’s where the super exotic designs will lose points.
In Treasury acquisition circles it is well known (and widely disputed by us tech types) that weight = cost, and that there is a reliable correlation at constant technology between Basic Mass Empty (Empty Weight) and cost. On which basis, the Chimera will come in at about 66% more than a Typhoon, or 50% more than an F-35A. And, notwithstanding the many arguments raised by both Industry and the development and acquisition agencies, no-one has yet demonstrated the Treasury mass-cost correlation to be wrong.
There is not the slightest way the Chimera could be described as cheap to build, easy to maintain or quick to develop. It is, in fact, a gold-plated solution to a relatively modest requirement.
No option but to score this a zero. It does not come anywhere near meeting the requirement. In many ways, the aircraft has much in common with the Mirage 4000. It looks sensational, can undoubtedly do the advertised job, but no one is going to buy it.
The Chief Judge may rule that a zero means that the aircraft automatically places last. But if not, my provisional score is 55, its performance and aesthetics offsetting to some extent its woeful cost/risk, and modest originality, scores. 0

TN – Could be overly complex for a mud-moving mission and could be vulnerable to ground fire. Twin engines is a boon, but then they are thrust vectoring, for added complexity.  Twin rotary cannon has not been done before, but why not. 16

0.png

One comment

  1. David Machado

    “As it stand it looks a 80s BBC Micro computer had a child with a Jaguar” this phrase will be my motto from now on, i do swear!
    Reading the judgements was a blast, and can’t wait to see that F/A-28 Aerobatic Display Team in action!Haha
    Thanks to all!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s