Stretch the Tornado?

Tony Williams

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Jan 10, 2013
Messages
388
Reaction score
10
Website
www.quarryhs.co.uk
One thing that puzzles me about most modern combat aircraft is the way they rely, as a matter of routine, on external carriage of weapons and a lot of their fuel tankage. The penalties of this practice are obvious, in terms of a considerable increase in aerodynamic drag and radar reflectivity, plus expensive missiles taking a battering from the elements. The one obvious exception is the F-35 family, designed to operate clean in order to preserve their stealth characteristics.

A fuselage increased in size to accommodate the normal load of fuel and weapons internally would of course be heavier, but the much reduced drag would surely make this a desirable trade-off, particularly for aircraft intended to operate at long range. I recall reading that a substantial part of the fuel in the external tanks is used up just in overcoming the drag caused by those tanks.

So I started mentally doodling with the idea of stretching the design of the Tornado, starting in around 2000. Widen the fuselage to create a bay between the engines; the top part for fuel, the lower part for weapons. Lengthen the nose with a fuselage plug behind the cockpit (for yet more fuel), then balance this forward CG shift with LERX (wing root extensions, which could also house sensors and illuminators). Once the layout and aerodynamics were sorted, then go over the design to convert as much as possible of the structure from metal to synthetic materials to bring the weight back down to the original.

While the plane could of course still carry external loads if required, the idea would be to routinely operate it in a clean condition. Compared with the original Tornado, the same fuel load carried internally (as opposed to internal+external) should boost the range considerably due to the reduced drag. Given the date, it would of course be given a multifunction sensor suite.

Given that Canada and Australia both experienced some trouble in choosing a new combat aircraft (both of course have huge areas to cover, so long range is very welcome), such a plane might well have suited their needs, as well as the RAF's. The cost of the project would probably be a lot less than the money paid for the F-35.

Incidentally, in my alternative world this stretched Tornado would complement the other new aircraft in the RAF - the Hawker P.1216 STOVL fighter which I would have built instead of the Typhoon. Performance estimates seem similar to the F-35B, except of course for the lack of stealth characteristics. If development had continued, It could have been in service by the end of the last century. The USMC would probably have adopted it, meaning that the F-35B would never have been built.
 

Avimimus

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
1,897
Reaction score
7
I hear you. Such a design might be very tempting for Canada I suspect. Dogfight manoeuvrability in the air of BVR and HOBS? That is something one could definitely sacrifice for range and cost reductions. I always thought a streched REPLICA using components from existing designs would be kindof tempting (although I've doubts about short-field/icy characteristics).

My other thought is that the reduced power-to-weight ratios might have penalties for supersonic manoeuvrability - which would weaken its resistance to modern SAMS - and thus require lo-lo mission profiles or waiting until the "third day" (when SEAD has had its effects).
 

Tony Williams

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Jan 10, 2013
Messages
388
Reaction score
10
Website
www.quarryhs.co.uk
I agree, dogfight manoeuvrability would probably suffer, but for this class of aircraft that might be acceptable.

As far as supersonic performance is concerned, I gather that most modern aircraft find it difficult to go that fast with tanks and weapons hanging off them.
 

Nick Sumner

Yabba dabba DOOOOOM!
Senior Member
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
422
Reaction score
14
I recall reading that the Tornado wasn't very manoeuvrable at all. Is this incorrect?
 

SteveO

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Jun 24, 2007
Messages
360
Reaction score
1

The Tornado 2000 proposal above was one concept for improving the Tornado's range. A multi role ADV fuselage (proposed for Japan) with a Sea Harrier FA2 Blue Vixen radar and a low drag fuel/weapons belly pack would have been my preferred choice. I don't think widening the fuselage would have been an easy option but a single seat version could have had extra fuel in place of the rear seat.
 

SteveO

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Jun 24, 2007
Messages
360
Reaction score
1
In my opinion the Buccaneer had an ideal weapon carriage layout. The internal weapon bay, which could hold 4x 1000 pound bombs, could be replaced with a fuel tank and the 4 underwing hard points could carry at least twice the internal weapon load or larger stores such as Sea Eagle anti ship missiles.

I'd like to see a future Tempest type combat aircraft copy this with 2x Storm Shadow or 8x Meteors internally for stealth and replace these with fuel tanks and carry double the payload externally for standoff or low risk missions.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
916
Reaction score
5
Purely on logical grounds, if we develop a single large engine fighter/attack type around a scaled up XG40 core (the basis of the P.1216 solution and any single engined CTOL machine as well that matches the Typhoon).
Then it would be logical to scale up the Tornado type to the new engine......
This would make room for what you desire and utilitises the new engine and much else from the next gen Fighter as well.

Frankly I thought the Russian JCB with internal space for 8 Storm Shadow was a quite rational option.
 

Avimimus

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
1,897
Reaction score
7
Just a reminder - it is debatable how much of a role this actually plays (just as it is debatable if Canada would buy a non-American design)... but go for two engines if you want popular support among Canadians... (something to do with how our experiences with the loss rates of the F-86 and CF-104 became incorporated into the culture of aviation buffs here).
 
Top