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21st century Folland Gnat?

cluttonfred

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The Folland Gnat represented attempts to roll back the creep to ever bigger, heavier, faster designs to small, simple aircraft that could still get the job done. The Gnat proved to be quite effective in the air-to-air role. Another such example, though a little larger, would be the Douglas Skyhawk that had an illustrious career as everything from "Scooter" the bomb truck to the the mount of choice for the "agressor" squadrons simulating enemy aircraft in U.S. training.

With modern engines and materials and ever smaller "smart" weapons, some sized to be fired from unmanned vehicles, it ought to be possible to roll back the size, weight, cost and complexity creep again to a lighter, smaller, cheaper but still effective combat aircraft. The new small, light turbofans coming on the market in the 1000-2000 lbs thrust range for personal jets offer interesting possibilities. Is anyone aware of any such projects in the works around the world, or even conceptual designs or student projects that might be floating around?

Cheers,

Matthew
 

Just call me Ray

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There might be, but it would involve a sacrifice of capabilities and therefore survivability. And (at least I believe), current market/tactical thinking seems to be that, if you're going to sacrifice that much capability and go for simplicity, why not dump the pilot altogether then for an even smaller, simpler aircraft. So we'll probably see something akin to a smaller, cheapter X-45/47 fit this role, like I've outlined in the UAV thread.
 

Jemiba

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AFAIK, the Scaled Composites ARES, although developed for ground attack,
could be armed with two Sidewinders or four Stingers, for self-defence mainly,
but also for helicopter hunting. And I think, it could be a tough adversary to an
aircraft like a Su 25 Frogfoot, too.
Not a long range, high altitude BVR fighter, of course, but the Gnat wasn't that
either. And by changing the internal gun for a smaller and lighter type, there should
be enough volume and weight saved for a light radar.


And, wasn't the ATG Javelin discussed as a light interceptor for US home defense duties ?
 

r16

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it will be a r16 claim that Russians beat the West to a low speed fighter in the Su-25 .
 

cluttonfred

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I agree that the Ares is a great place to start. Even before the Gnat, the tiny Yak-17 could do almost 500 mph on only 2,000 lbf and the (unarmed) Folland Midge demonstrator could do 600 mph on only 1,640 lbf. Turn a modern designer like Burt Rutan loose with a VLJ engine of around 1,500-2,000 lbf and we ought to be able to see an inexpensive lightweight fighter with great subsonic performance. Even modest armament--a .50 cal machine gun with explosive ammo, a pair of Stingers and some "mini-Hellfire" guided 70mm rockets--could be very effective. Apply some low observability technology (especially IR because of MANPADS) and you have a very useful platform for low-intensity conflict.
 

Just call me Ray

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Jemiba said:
And, wasn't the ATG Javelin discussed as a light interceptor for US home defense duties ?

The main problem with the Javelin is that it simply isn't around anymore; ATG went belly-up before many could be built, let alone sold.

Though it seems like it would pretty much fit exactly what you're asking for. It was primarily sold as a business jet believe it or not, but it was also sold as a military trainer and home-defense fighter, though those were mostly secondary to its main "business model" (which, with the similar speed performance and more conventional "biz-jet" layout of the competing VLJs, it's no surprise that many didn't take). I think the Israelis were interested, and with a bit of a redesign it could've gone supersonic, maybe.
 

Avimimus

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There were a number of Soviet Studies that would be relatively relevant (I'm thinking the S-54/56 and project Integral)
 

Jemiba

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Folks, I think, we've forgotten an already existing type, the BAe Hawk 200 ! ;)
 

robunos

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Folks, I think, we've forgotten an already existing type, the BAe Hawk 200 !

This is one of those 'read something, somewhere, but can't remember where' posts, anyway, I read in one of Roy Braybrook's AI columns that he considered the Hawk 200 a 'modern-day' Hunter, so, doing a quick check in 'putnam's Hawker', reveals the following:-

Hawk 200 - span 30' 9.5", length 36' 1", height 13' 1", wing area 179.64 sq ft.
weights, empty 8,818 lb, MTO 18,960 lb
power 5,845 lb thrust.
speed, 648mph/M1.2, range 554/2240 miles, [internal/max external fuel], ceiling 44,600 ft, rate of climb,11,510 ft/min.

Hunter span 33' 8", length 45' 10.5", height 13' 2", wing area 340/349 sq ft.
weights, empty 12,128/13,580 lb, MTO 24,000 approx lb
power 5,500/10,000 lb thrust.
speed, 608/621mph/M 0.93/0.95, range not given, ceiling 45,00 ft, rate of climb,not given

comparing this with the data in 'Folland Gnat, sabre slayer and Red Arrow', page 64,

Gnat span 22' 2", length 28' 7", height not given, wing area 136.6 sq ft.
weights, empty 4,604 lb, MTO 8,225lb
power 4,850 lb thrust.
speed, mph not given/M 0.96, range 920 miles, ceiling 50,000+ft, rate of climb,20,000+ ft/min.

thus i would say, that the Hawk 200 is rather too large to be considered a modern-day Gnat, but rather is a modern-day Hunter, as Roy Braybrook asserts.

cheers,
Robin.
 

Jemiba

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".. in one of Roy Braybrook's AI columns "

Well, those columns were my favourite reading in AI, as long, as they were published !
And he is right with regards to performances and roles, I think. My thoughts just were,
that the Hawk T.1 was the successor of the Gnat T.1 in RAF service, a considerably
heavier aircraft, than the Gnat, but quite a light aircraft compared to the then current
first line aircraft. The development was just the other way round, from trainer to fighter,
not from fighter to trainer as with the Gnat.
Not all trainer aircraft can be regarded as "light", of course, one example may be the SEPECAT
Jaguar, but the Hawk was developed as a trainer, just big enough to overcome the limitations
of the Gnat T.1, e.g. with regards to pilots size.
But you're right, I think, as a scale, that accepts the Hawk 200 as a light fighter, alwayswould
have to accept vintage MiG 15 (Empty weight 8,115 lbs) as a light fighter today !
 

Just call me Ray

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robunos said:
Hawk 200 - span 30' 9.5", length 36' 1", height 13' 1", wing area 179.64 sq ft.
weights, empty 8,818 lb, MTO 18,960 lb
power 5,845 lb thrust.
speed, 648mph/M1.2, range 554/2240 miles, [internal/max external fuel], ceiling 44,600 ft, rate of climb,11,510 ft/min.

...that can't be right....
 

r16

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it is maximum speed attained in a dive ; Harrier was also supersonic in this context . It is always marketing that rules aviation publications .
 

robunos

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just re-checked; M1.2 is quoted as 'never exceed speed at altitude', so r16 is right, i'm assuming it's the limiting speed for a high-altitude dive.

my fault, just regurgitated the data table, the article says nothing about performance with regard to speed, only range, sortie profile and weapons load-outs.

cheers,
Robin.
 

Jemiba

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The term "fighter" suggests an aircraft capable and intended not only
for air-to-ground, but also for air-to-air missions. Looking at the latest AI
issue, I found an interesting article about another type, that could be
mentioned in this class, too : The EMB-314 Super Tucano. Mainly a light-
attack/COIN/trainer aircraft, but the role of helicopter hunting and fighting
drug trafficking was envisaged from the start.
 

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