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Author Topic: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?  (Read 7878 times)

Offline aferguson

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Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« on: January 07, 2014, 07:23:56 am »
The orbital dropship concept, as seen in many science fiction stories including Aliens, is a very solid and practical idea that may well be utilized some day.  Has any effort been put into developing them now or is there no perceived need for them yet?

The design of the dropship seen in Aliens is rather implausible, as its shape is not suited for re-entry but the concept is still interesting.   I would envision early orbital drop ships to be shaped somewhat like the Space Shuttle, with no engines  except for lift engines for a vertical landing, with troops and cargo being offloaded from the rear.  It would be a one way machine, with no ability to take off once landed, similar to a WWII assault glider, and with no ability to offer fire support.

Anyone have knowledge of any such craft under development or at least at a concept stage?

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Offline Grey Havoc

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2014, 07:49:15 am »
You may also find SUSTAIN [Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion] and the related Project Hot Eagle of interest:
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,5386.0.html

EDIT: Also briefly mentioned in an old Space Projects short thread (unfortunately the conference link is defunct).
« Last Edit: January 07, 2014, 08:01:46 am by Grey Havoc »
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Offline Byeman

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2014, 08:47:20 am »
Has any effort been put into developing them now or is there no perceived need for them yet?

It is still scifi.  No realistic perceived need. 

Offline Byeman

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2014, 08:48:55 am »
It would be a one way machine, with no ability to take off once landed, similar to a WWII assault glider, and with no ability to offer fire support.

And what is the group suppose to do once on the ground with no fire support and no extraction method?   

The idea fails on many levels. The idea is implausible.

Offline aferguson

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2014, 10:12:53 am »
assault gliders which gave no fire support and no means of extraction were used on several occassions in WWII.  So the idea is far from implausible......it's certainly not ideal but not an implausible concept.    The worst part of my idea is that the dropship would probably be quite expensive to make, so having it disposable (or ideally only recovered if victorious) is not great.   But it would be a lot easier to build a craft like that then something that can descend from outer space, land vertically, offload cargo and then take of vertically and offer fire support.  That's implausible......for now and probably for the next 150 years.    The best way of doing it at the moment would probably be to encase an assault helicopter type vehicle inside an aerodynamic shell for entry into the atmosphere.  The shell being discarded once speeds are slow enough and then the vehicle inside would behave like a normal helicopter, dropping troops and giving fire support.

Offline Orionblamblam

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2014, 10:26:18 am »

And what is the group suppose to do once on the ground with no fire support ...

Their mission.

Quote
and no extraction method?


Who says there's no extraction method? Some SUSTAIN/Hot Eagle concepts proposed a "drop ship" that had enough  propulsive capability to lurch back into the sky, where it'd be snagged by a C-17 and towed back to the world. Others would have a one-shot expendable  "drop ship" that would get from, say, the US to anywhere in 45 minutes (or a carrier to anywhere in 15), with backup in the form of F-18's, B-1's, B-52, C-17's and such arriving over the next few hours.

There are missions that call for dumping a group of high-tech psychos into enemy territory just as fast as possible, and sending backup and extraction a little bit later. Not enough of a mission to actually develop such craft, but the mission models do exist.
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Offline Byeman

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2014, 11:54:54 am »

Their mission.


And how would they do that since their arrival would not be covert, it would visible and loud.  Additionally, they would be vulnerable during the insertion.

Offline Byeman

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2014, 11:56:34 am »
assault gliders which gave no fire support and no means of extraction were used on several occassions in WWII.

And where are such gliders now?  Because it is implausible.

Offline Byeman

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2014, 11:58:22 am »

Who says there's no extraction method? Some SUSTAIN/Hot Eagle concepts proposed a "drop ship" that had enough  propulsive capability to lurch back into the sky, where it'd be snagged by a C-17 and towed back to the world. Others would have a one-shot expendable  "drop ship" that would get from, say, the US to anywhere in 45 minutes (or a carrier to anywhere in 15), with backup in the form of F-18's, B-1's, B-52, C-17's and such arriving over the next few hours.

There are missions that call for dumping a group of high-tech psychos into enemy territory just as fast as possible, and sending backup and extraction a little bit later. Not enough of a mission to actually develop such craft, but the mission models do exist.

And most of those schemers were laughed out of meetings.   Better off trying to develop a Star Trek Transporter.

Offline Orionblamblam

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2014, 12:48:13 pm »

And how would they do that since their arrival would not be covert, it would visible and loud.

For some concepts, sure. But a "drop ship" that dumps out its passengers at, say, 50,000 feet for a HALO jump, then continues on to crash into a hillside 200 miles down range?

And many missions rely less on stealth than speed. Once on-site, the platoon might be busy blowing up buildings and killing every biped for 500 yards in every direction.

The ObL mission is one that *could* have been done via this approach. However, stealth choppers were in range. But what if they weren't, and you had to have actual boots on the ground, and had only and extremely short window? A "drop ship" mission *might* be the only way to pull this off.

Quote
Additionally, they would be vulnerable during the insertion.

For Special Forces, when is this ever *not* the case?
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Offline Orionblamblam

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2014, 12:57:53 pm »
And where are such gliders now?

Replaced by helicopters. Imagine suggesting in 1940 that major assaults would be performed with helicopters. You'd be laughed out of meetings. Only zany whackjobs like Otto Skorzeny would even contemplate the notion.
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Offline blackstar

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2014, 01:22:57 pm »
assault gliders which gave no fire support and no means of extraction were used on several occassions in WWII.  So the idea is far from implausible.

Look into the history of them. The gliders had a high fatality rate, and they were often used as part of mass paratroop formations. And they weren't used after WWII.

Indeed, paratroops today are in many ways about as useful as the horse cavalry. You cannot put a large group of lightly armed troops deep inside enemy territory and expect much success. And if your ground army is not rolling up right behind them, they'll be surrounded and get slaughtered.

As for the idea of putting small units deep behind enemy territory (like with a dropship) there's an inherent contradiction in that idea--any mission where they are going to be so deep in enemy territory that conventional deployment methods cannot be used means that conventional deployment methods also cannot be used to extract them. If you can use a V-22 to pull them out, you could use a V-22 to put them in, so why do you need something super exotic and inevitably single-use?

SUSTAIN always got far more attention than it deserved. It was a general's pet project, the kind of thing that disappears as soon as the one general officer who thinks it is neat retires. As with any advanced project, the question of seriousness is answered by the budget: if it has money in the budget for development, it is serious, if it is being pushed with pocket change, it is not serious. See, for example, Space Based Solar Power pushed by the National Security Space Office back in 2007. Vanished without a trace. Or for an example that was discussed on this group, see the Arsenal Ship.

Offline aferguson

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2014, 03:04:00 pm »
hm.....interesting discussion.   The only reason the assault glider disappeared is because a better option, the helicopter, came along.  If not, they would have continued in use after WWII, warts and all, albeit not on nearly as wide a scale as helicopters.

The lack of need for an orbital dropship is another matter.   I hadn't fully considered all the drawbacks of inserting a small number of troops a zillion miles from support; i was more focused on how you'd do it rather than should you do it.

So perhaps the orbital dropship may not be needed until such time there is a rebellion on the Martian Colonies.   ;)

Offline blackstar

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Re: Any Real Orbital Dropships in development?
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2014, 03:51:13 pm »
1-The only reason the assault glider disappeared is because a better option, the helicopter, came along.  If not, they would have continued in use after WWII, warts and all

2-i was more focused on how you'd do it rather than should you do it.

1-They weren't used in Korea, when the helicopter still was not used for troop insertion. Did the U.S. Army even have gliders in 1946?

2-That's a classic mistake of lots of space stuff--everybody gets caught up in how cool it would be to engineer stuff and doesn't look at minor issues like budget, requirements, usefulness.