Douglas A-1 Skyraider

     Notes: Originally designed in the wake of World War 2 as a dive bomber, the Skyraider did not see any service in that war; however, it saw considerable use during the Korean War.  The Skyraider was progressively upgraded between the late 1940s and early 1980s, despite questions about how relevant the Skyraider was in modern air power.  The Skyraider, however, came into its own in the Vietnam war, where it’s slow speed and long loitering capability, as well as its ability to haul heavy loads, made the aircraft of choice as a “Sandy.”  Sandies gave cover to helicopter extraction missions, able to provide accurate support due to its slow speed and the bravery of Sandy pilots in dragging their aircraft in low.  Their heavy armament, including four 20mm wing cannons, proved invaluable.  In addition to US Air Force service, is was used by the Navy, Marine corps, the VNAF, and RAF, Sweden (where they were only used as target tugs, with armament and hardpoints removed), and the French Air Force.  A variety of Southeast Asian and African countries also procured retiring Skyraiders. The A-1 continued to be used by the reunited Vietnam until the late 1980s.  Though it is controversial as to whether it is regarded to be a kill, four Skyraiders outmaneuvered and shot down a MiG-19 in 1967.  It often took two or more MiGs to being down a Skyraider, due to the Skyraider’s maneuverability and the low heat given off by its engine. Skyraiders were involved in several – ah, unusual exploits, including the rescue of a Special Forces trooper, with the Green Beret standing on the wing, and in 1965, the dropping of a toilet on Viet Cong (commemorating the pilot’s 6 million pounds of ordnance dropped).

 

AD-1

     The original production was designated AD-1; this designation was assigned before the joint service common designation redesignation, and for the fact that the Skyraider was originally a Naval aircraft.  242 were built. The AD-1 was powered by a 2500-horsepower Wright R-3350-24W Duplex Cyclone Radial, with 18 cylinders.  The engine was canted slightly downward, reducing the need for trim changes. It was a tail-dragger, and the main wheels rotated 90 degrees to lay flush with the airframe when flying.  Being originally a Naval aircraft, the winds folded up near the middle. Both the wings and tail carried ailerons and elevators, increasing maneuverability, and had effective flaps and an undercarriage suitable for rough-field operations.  Weapon carriage consisted of its internal armament of an M-3 20mm autocannon in each wing. A centerline hardpoint, a hard point under each wing, six pylons under each outer wing, for a total of 15 pylons – 1.63 tons on the centerline pylon, each inboard pylon could handle 1.36 tons, and each outer wing pylons could carry 225 kg each.  However, the outer wing in totality could not carry more than1.135 tons, and since the hardpoints were tightly spaced, clearance issues resulted; while the outer wing could handle 6 rockets, it could carry only 3 bombs on the outer wing.  Essentially, if loaded with more than 250 kg of weapons, the pilot may load only every other of these hardpoints, as the heavier ordnance was literally hooked to two hardpoints. (Most Sandies did in fact carry rockets underwing.  The centerline and inner wing pylons were wet; this was good, since the AD-1 was not capable of aerial refueling.  Occasionally, an AD-1 was “bombed up,” overloaded with ordnance; these configurations were not regarded as being a sane thing to do.  Along with bombs, napalm, and rockets, the AD-1 could carry torpedoes; this was only done once, against a dam in North Korea.  The AD-1 had no ejection seat, and clearing the big tail could be a problem in a bailout.  The pilot sits in an armored cockpit.

     The AD-1Q was a variant of the AD-1 that carried a second operator in the rear.  His cockpit could be charitably described as cozy; he entered through a door on the right side below the canopy.  (In an emergency, this could be difficult to get out of quickly.) He had limited view through the canopy, and his main window was on left side.  Under the right wing outboard was a jammer pod, and a chaff dispenser was carried under the left wing outboard.  The other hardpoints were not occupied and could carry normal ordnance, and the cannons remained. The AD-1Q had extra antennas for the ECM pod. In order to not lose the fuel tankage, a spine ran down the fuselage to the tail.

 

AD-2/AD-3/AD-4

     Some 156 AD-2s were built, though some were converted to the variants below. The upgrades included airframe strengthening, allowing for better maneuverability, an increase in internal fuel, and the replacement of the engine by a later version, the Wright 3350-26W, developing 3020 horsepower.  The AD-1 included doors for the main landing gear, something the AD-1 did not have.  The engine mounting was improved and made more solid, and the cockpit arrangement was made more intuitive.  This version entered service in 1948.

     An AD-2Q was also produced, similar to the AD-1Q, but with a jammer with more capability.

     The AD-3 was similar to the AD-2, had a further-strengthened airframe, lengthened main gear struts, and an updated propeller.  The tailwheel was no longer retractable, the rudder was redesigned, and the cockpit layout was further revised. The tail pitot tube was removed, replaced by a simple inlet.  125 of these were built or converted in 1949.

     The AD-3Q was an ECM platform version of the AD-3; it had an updated equipment configuration.  Only 23 were built or converted.

     The AD-3N was a night attack variant, with a second crewmember crammed into the rear canopy like on the AD-2Q.  A second door, with a window, was put in the RIO space.  Under one wing was an AN/APS-4 radar pod, while the other wing had a 1 million-candlepower searchlight. The fuselage dive brakes were deleted, though the belly dive brakes were retained.  On some AD-3Ns, the cannons were given flash suppressors to keep from blinding the crew in the dark. 15 were built or converted.

     The AD-3W was an AEW variant, with a large belly radome for an AN/APS-20A search and tracking radar.  In addition, the fuselage had a spine that held more equipment.  Again, two crewmembers were jammed in where only one should have gone.  The cannons were deleted, and the inboard wing pylons were retained for fuel tanks (the extra equipment gave the AD-3W a considerable hit on fuel tankage); the outer wing hardpoints were removed.  The AD-3W had the nickname “Guppy” during its service.  31 were built or converted.

     The AD-4 was built in larger numbers than any other Skyraider, with 372 built, though most were later converted or upgraded to later models. A more fuel-efficient Wright R-3350-26WA engine, providing 2700 horsepower, was fitted, though there was a loss of speed.  The windshield was made wider and made of armored glass. Firepower was increased by adding another 20mm autocannon in each wing.

     The AD-4B was, unbelievably, fitted out for tactical nuclear delivery, though they could also carry conventional stores.  165 of these were built, with another 37 being modified from standard AD-4s.  They could carry a Mk 7 or Mk 8 nuclear bomb on a reinforced centerline pylon.  Pilots of the AD-4B had no great faith that they would survive such a mission; they knew the Skyraider was too slow to avoid the blast and radiation effects of the bomb.  They did have a special bomb direction system, optimized for nuclear delivery; it was not useful for conventional ordnance.

     The AD-4N was the night attack variant, similar in concept to the AD-3N.  This version did not have the second cannon in each wing, remaining with two cannons.  After redesignation, this aircraft became the A-1D

     The AD-4Q was an ECM carrier, similar to the AD-3Q.

     AD-4W was an AEW version, with 168 built, and similar to the AD-3W.

     The AD-4L was a winterized version, specifically for fighting in Korea.  It featured deicing boots on the leading edges of the wings and control surfaces, and an engine preheater.  There were 63 conversions.  The AD-4NL was a winterized AD-4N, with 38 conversions.  Both are identical to the standard AD-4 or AD-4N for game purposes.

     Near the start of the Korean War, 100 AD-4Ns were converted back to a day attack role. They were stripped of all night attack equipment, and had their hardpoints restored.  They retained, however, their twin 20mm cannons, with flash suppressors.  The rear seat remained, though it was normally empty.

 

Korean War Skyraiders: AD-5/AD-6/AD-7

     In the Korean War, the Skyraider acquired the nickname “Able Dog,” from its designation of AD.  They had a legendary reputation, as being easy to fly, maneuverable, able to haul lots or ordinance, and capable of sustaining incredible damage and bringing its pilot home. Later, after the tri-service designation system, the AD-5 would be redesignated the A-1E.  The first AD-5s were rebuilt AD-4s.

     The AD-5 was a significant upgrade for the Skyraider, with a stretched fuselage to carry more fuel, a width increase to allow even more fuel, a second crewmember, or specialized equipment.  In some configurations, up to four crewmembers could be accommodated in the Skyraider, if so equipped.  The fuselage airbrakes were deleted as unnecessary with all the brakes and slats already present.  The outer wing pylons were moved so they just projected beyond the front of the wings; this helped maintain the center of gravity when carrying stores. The two seat configuration was used, with the second seat beside the pilot; this seat was often unoccupied, but often carried an observer with binoculars.

     The AD-5N was a night attack version, similar in concept to the AD-4N, though the radar operator was beside the pilot instead of being crammed in the back.  239 were built. After redesignation, this became the A-1G.

     The AD-5W was an AEW aircraft, similar to the AD-4W, and equipped with a tracking and scanning radar underneath the fuselage.  The AD-1W had two radar operators and one EW officer; the radar operators in the rear needed their cockpit area dark, to see the radar scopes better.  The Plexiglas of the canopy in the rear was replaced with aluminum sheets, and small windows were made in the sides of the rear section to supply what light was needed.  Equipment included a searchlight and a chaff pod. After redesignation, this became the EA-1E.

     The AD-5S was a one-off; it was an attempt to turn the Skyraider into an ASW platform.  It had radar and searchlight on the wings and a MAD tail stinger, was a four seater, and generally carried torpedoes and sonobuoys on its wings. The Navy decided to use the S-2 Tracker instead. It will not be covered here.

     The AD-5Q was an EW aircraft; like other AD-xQs, it carried chaff and ECM pods, and it also carried a four-man crew to operate the increase in ECM gear as well as chaff.  Under its wings, there were two ECM pods and two chaff pods; there was some additional internal electronic gear in a spine fairing. After redesignation, this became the EA-1F.

     Theoretically, the AD-5 was to an extent modular; literature suggests that it could be outfitted as an air ambulance with a capacity of four stretchers, a personnel transport able to carry eight passengers, a target tug, a photoreconnaissance aircraft, and a cargo aircraft with a capacity of 900 kg.  I have not seen any hard evidence that the AD-5 was ever used in any of these roles, though the conversion kits were produced and distributed.  At any rate, I have no hard information, or even something nebulous that I could fudge with, so they will not be included here.  On a few occasions, the AD-5 has been used as a buddy refueler, with the inner wing hardpoints used as a kit for this purpose; only a few mentions of this use appear anywhere.

     The AD-6, later redesignated the A-1H, was an even bigger upgrade, with its engine replaced by a Wright R-3350-26WD 2700-horsepower engine, which was easier to service. Hardpoints were modernized to be able to take any sort of ordinance in the US military.  It also inherited the AD-4B’s alternate mission as a nuclear delivery platform. The avionics were simplified and improved.  The airframe was reinforced, as were the landing gear.  The AD-6 had a long ventral airbrake atop the fuselage.  The AD-6/A-1H appeared to be optimized for air-to ground operations; the AD-6 had a rudimentary targeting computer.  No other variants were built.

     The AD-6/A-1H introduced a controversial feature – the rocket extraction device.  This was not an ejection seat; attached to the pilot’s harness, it simply yanked him out of the plane.  The pilot still had to pull his own rip cord. It is not sure what confidence the crews had in this system.

     The AD-7/A-1J simply was an AD-6 with longer, stronger wings, and stronger landing gear.  72 were built, with the last one built in 1957.

     The A-1E, A-1H, and A-1J later went on to glory as Sandies in the Vietnam War, with the last being retired from US service in 1972.

 

What Could Have Been: The Skyshark

     In Jun 1945 the military asked Douglas to produce a prototype of a turboprop-powered Skyraider.  It was to have more speed and better lifting capability, but be able to operate off Essex and Casablanca-class escort carriers, which were not big enough to operate jets.  They would also provide an alternative for general ground support to thirsty jets.  The result was the A2D Skyshark.  While the Skyraider was clearly the base of the aircraft, the Skyshark was also a clearly different airplane.

     The Skyshark was built around the new Allison XT-40-A2 5100-horsepower turboprop powering a two-layer contra-rotating propeller.  The wing root thickness was decreased to increase streamlining, but the height and area of the tail grew.

     The Skyshark program, however, was fraught with problems from the beginning.  The Allison engine was not available until 1950; in the meantime an underpowered GE TE-100 was used for flight tests.  In addition, the engine that Allison delivered at first were prototype engines; a production did not appear until 1953.  During one of the first test flights, the gearbox, which had troublesome, could not handle the power of the engine, seized it up, and caused the nose to shed all of its propeller blades. Which is too bad, because when it was working, the Allison engine was capable of delivering near-sonic speeds.

     By 1954, the A-4 Skyhawk was ready to fly; Douglas now had a much better design to sell to the Navy.  Meanwhile, the escort carriers were being mothballed.  Allison had still not delivered a reliable powerplant.  Time was up for the troubled Skyshark.  Of the 12 built, four were destroyed in testing, seven were scrapped, and one is now on display at the airport in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

     I am including the Skyshark in this entry as a “what-if.”

 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: By the Twilight War, very few of these aircraft were flying, but the few remaining -- perhaps 25 in all -- were recalled late in the war as ground support aircraft and Sandies. 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

AD-1

$290,049

AvG

1.55 tons

4.76 tons

1

8

None

Enclosed

AD-1Q

$5,251,131

AvG

1.4 tons

4.81 tons

2

11

None

Enclosed

AD-2

$292,362

AvG

1.71 tons

4.76 tons

1

9

None

Enclosed

AD-2Q

$7,221,924

AvG

1.4 tons

4.81 tons

2

11

None

Enclosed

AD-3

$292,362

AvG

1.71 tons

4.86 tons

1

9

None

Enclosed

AD-3N

$3,971,538

AvG

1.46 tons

5.86 tons

2

13

Radar, WL Searchlight

Enclosed

AD-3W

$29,840,588

AvG

1.56 tons

5.48 tons

2

15

Radar, WL Searchlight

Enclosed

AD-4

$535,434

AvG

1.68 tons

4.9 tons

1

9

None

Enclosed

AD-4B

$552,753

AvG

1.68 tons

4.93 tons

1

11

None

Shielded

AD-4N

$5,531,153

AvG

1.43 tons

5.9 tons

2

13

Radar, WL Searchlight

Enclosed

AD-4Q

$7,464,996

AvG

1.37 tons

5.05 tons

2

11

None

Enclosed

AD-4W

$30,083,660

AvG

1.53 tons

5.52 tons

2

13

Radar, WL Searchlight

Enclosed

AD-4N (Stripped)

$333,886

AvG

1.79 tons

4.79 tons

1(2)

8

None

Enclosed

AD-5

$874,978

AvG

2.13 tons

5.58 tons

1(2)

8

None

Enclosed

AD-5N

$5,870,697

AvG

1.88 tons

6.68 tons

2

13

Radar, WL Searchlight

Enclosed

AD-5W

$57,477,478

AvG

1.98 tons

7.3 tons

2

13

Radar, WL Searchlight

Enclosed

AD-5Q

$19,101,939

AvG

2.04 tons

6.95 tons

4

13

Radar

Enclosed

AD-6

$16,996,223

AvG

2.15 tons

6.62 tons

2

11

None

Enclosed

AD-7

$19,252,761

AvG

2.2 tons

6.84 tons

2

11

None

Enclosed

A2D-1

$7,992,767

AvG

2.64 tons

5.86 tons

1

10

None

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

AD-1/AD-1Q

999

200 (45)

6/4  30/20

1400

924

7925

AD-2/AD-2Q

1098

220 (40)

5/3  32/15

1440

1112

7925

AD-3/AD-3Q

1109

222 (40)

5/3  33/15

1440

1112

7925

AD-3N

1009

202 (45)

5/3  30/15

1440

1222

7925

AD-3W

1042

209 (45)

6/4  31/20

1356

1178

7925

AD-4/AD-4B/AD-4Q

1040

208 (40)

5/3  31/15

1440

991

7925

AD-4N

946

189 (45)

6/4  28/20

1440

1079

7925

AD-4W

978

196 (45)

6/4  29/20

1356

1054

7925

AD-4N (Stripped)

1061

212 (40)

5/3  32/15

1440

971

7925

AD-5

917

196 (40)

5/3  27/15

1670

1060

7925

AD-5N

834

178 (45)

5/3  25/15

1670

1166

7925

AD-5W

862

167 (45)

6/4  26/20

1573

1166

7925

AD-5Q

816

174 (45)

6/4  25/20

1670

1187

7925

AD-6

834

158 (40)

5/3  25/15

1670

1155

7925

AD-7

809

153 (35)

5/3  24/15

1670

1190

7925

A2D-1

1639

328 (35)

5/3  49/15

1837

1887

14664

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

AD-1/2/3

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, Armored Cockpit

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

2x20mm M3 Autocannons, 15 Hardpoints

400x20mm

AD-1Q

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, Armored Cockpit, ECM (-2), Chaff (20)

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

2x20mm M3 Autocannons, 13 Hardpoints

400x20mm

AD-2Q/3Q

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, Armored Cockpit, ECM (-3), Chaff (20)

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

2x20mm M3 Autocannons, 13 Hardpoints

400x20mm

AD-3N

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, Armored Cockpit

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

2x20mm M3 Autocannons, 13 Hardpoints

400x20mm

AD-3W

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, Armored Cockpit, ECM (-2), Chaff (20)

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

2x20mm M3 Autocannons, 2 Hardpoints

400x20mm

AD-4/AD-4B

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, RWR, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

4x20mm M3 Autocannons, 15 Hardpoints

800x20mm

AD-4N

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield, ECM (-3), Chaff (20)

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

2x20mm M3 Autocannons, 13 Hardpoints

400x20mm

AD-4Q

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield, ECM (-3), Chaff (20)

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

4x20mm M3 Autocannons, 13 Hardpoints

800x20mm

AD-4N (Stripped)

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, RWR, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

2x20mm M3 Autocannons, 15 Hardpoints

400x20mm

AD-5

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, RWR, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

4x20mm M3 Autocannons, 15 Hardpoints

800x20mm

AD-5N

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, RWR, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield, ECM (-3), ECCM (-1), Chaff (20)

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

4x20mm M3 Autocannons, 13 Hardpoints

800x20mm

AD-5W

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, RWR, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield, ECM (-2), ECCM (-1), Chaff (20), Radio Detection, Track While Scan

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

4x20mm M3 Autocannons, 2 Hardpoints

800x20mm

AD-5Q

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, RWR, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield, ECM (-3), ECCM (-1), Chaff (40), Radio Detection, Radio Jamming (-4)

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

4x20mm M3 Autocannons, 11 Hardpoints

800x20mm

AD-6

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, RWR, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield, ECM (-2), ECCM (-1), Chaff (10)

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

4x20mm M3 Autocannons, 15 Hardpoints

800x20mm

AD-7

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, RWR, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield, ECM (-2), ECCM (-1), Chaff (10)

615/745m Primitive Runway

+1

4x20mm M3 Autocannons, 17 Hardpoints

800x20mm

A2D-1

Secure Radios, IFF, TACAN, RWR, Armored Cockpit, Armored Windshield, ECM (-2), ECCM (-1), Chaff (10)

615/745m Primitive Runway

+2

4x20mm HS-404 Autocannons, 11 Hardpoints

800x20mm

 

A-4 Skyhawk

     Notes: Most versions of the A-4 have a hump behind the cockpit that houses avionics and ECM gear.  Although it is small, it can carry a large weapon load for its size, including nuclear weapons.  These aircraft were much used in the Twilight War, particularly in the Middle East and by the US, who recalled them from boneyards to replace aircraft losses and to use as close support aircraft.

     The A-4A was the first production model, with a low-thrust engine and two hardpoints.  The A-4B is the same aircraft with a slightly higher-powered engine.  The A-4Q is a refurbished A-4B sold to the Argentine Navy.  The A-4C has the addition of terrain-following radar and an autopilot as well as improvements to avionics.  The A-4P is a refurbished A-4C supplied to the Argentine Air Force.

     The A-4E introduced two new hardpoints to the wings.  The A-4F introduced the avionics hump to the rear of the cockpit, housing ECM and equipment for the guidance of command-guided munitions.  An A-4G is an A-4F built for the Australian Navy; it does not have the hump. The A-4K is the same aircraft after some years have gone by; it was refurbished, and then passed on the New Zealanders. The A-4H was built for the Israelis; it replaces the cannons with heavier ones.  The A-4M was built for the US Marines and was known as the Skyhawk II; it has a more powerful engine, double the cannon ammunition load, and a laser designator.  The A-4N was built for the Israelis; it has 30mm cannons, and more advanced avionics.  The A-4Y is an A-4M with a refit to bring it up to the same level as the A-4N. 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

A-4A

$1,318,657

AvG

3.59 tons

10.23 tons

1

18

Radar

Shielded

A-4B/Q/S

$1,419,574

AvG

3.59 tons

10.23 tons

1

18

Radar

Shielded

A-4C/P

$1,465, 367

AvG

3.59 tons

10.23 tons

1

18

Radar

Shielded

A-4E

$1,613,332

AvG

4.5 tons

11.14 tons

1

18

Radar

Shielded

A-4F/K

$3,211,715

AvG

4.5 tons

11.14 tons

1

20

Radar

Shielded

A-4G

$3,038,053

AvG

4.5 tons

11.14 tons

1

18

Radar

Shielded

A-4H

$3,258,797

AvG

4.5 tons

11.14 tons

1

22

Radar

Shielded

A-4M

$4,044,171

AvG

4.76 tons

11.14 tons

1

26

Radar

Shielded

A-4N/Y

$4,021,941

AvG

4.76 tons

11.14 tons

1

26

Radar

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

A-4A

2115

529 (110)

NA  132  7/4  70/40

3120

1610

17100

A-4B/Q/S/C/P

2125

531 (110)

NA  133  7/4  70/40

3120

1647

17100

A-4E/F/K/G/H

2154

538 (110)

NA  135  7/4  70/40

3120

1908

17100

A-4H

2832

596 (110)

NA  149  7/4  70/40

3120

1932

17100

A-4M/N/Y

3097

774 (110)

NA  194  7/4  70/40

3120

2635

17100

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

A-4A/B/Q/S

None

1000/600m Hardened Runway

+1

2x20mm Mk 12 Autocannons, 2 Hardpoints

200x20mm

A-4C/P

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, TFR

1000/600m Hardened Runway

+1

2x20mm Mk 12 Autocannons, 2 Hardpoints

200x20mm

A-4E/G

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, TFR, ECM

1000/600m Hardened Runway

+1

2x20mm Mk 12 Autocannons, 4 Hardpoints

200x20mm

A-4F/K

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, TFR, ECM, DJM

1000/600m Hardened Runway

+2

2x20mm Mk 12 Autocannons, 4 Hardpoints

200x20mm

A-4H

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, TFR, ECM, DJM, IR Masking

1000/600m Hardened Runway

+2

2x30mm DEFA Autocannons, 4 Hardpoints

200x30mm

A-4M

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, TFR, ECM, DJM, Laser Designator

1000/600m Hardened Runway

+3

4x20mm Mk 12 Autocannons, 5 Hardpoints

400x20mm

A-4N/Y

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, TFR, ECM, DJM, Laser Designator

1000/600m Hardened Runway

+3

2x30mm DEFA Autocannons, 5 Hardpoints

100x30mm

 

A-6 Intruder

     Notes: This is an older US Navy attack aircraft, partially replaced in US Navy service by the F/A-18.  The Intruder can be refueled in flight and can carry drop tanks.  Earlier versions of this aircraft were workhorses in Vietnam and the Gulf War.  A tanker version, the KA-6D, remains in service, and carries 9500 liters of fuel in 5 drop tanks for buddy refueling of carrier aircraft.

     The A-6A is the basic aircraft; it to include a digital integrated attack suite (the DIANE system).  The A-6B is generally similar, but has an updated radar warning receiver and is able to use antiradiation missiles.  The A-6C is also similar to the A-6B, but carries a FLIR and low-light TV system under the nose.  The A-6E has a comprehensive avionics and ECM suite.  The A-6E/TRAM has the TRAM system; this includes a steerable ball turret under the nose housing the FLIR, LLTV, and a laser designator.  This aircraft is one of the few in the inventory able to deliver Tomahawk cruise missiles, or anything else in the US Naval inventory.

     The A-6F includes better avionics, smokeless engines, higher load-carrying capability, and a new bomb delivery system with better accuracy.  In addition, the A-6F adds air-to-air capability.  The Navy chose to concentrate on the Super Hornet instead of building the A-6F.

     Two electronic warfare versions of the A-6 were produced: the EA-6A, made in extremely limited numbers primarily as an operational experiment, and the EA-6B, the US Navy’s primary electronic warfare aircraft.  (This version will be detailed in another entry.)  Work on the EA-6A started in 1962; it is basically a heavily-modified A-6A, distinguished by the canoe fairing on the tail.  The fairing carried electronic warfare equipment such as radar and radio detectors and radar and radio jammers.  In addition, the EA-6A could carry up to five electronic and/or infrared jamming pods (four under the wings, and under the fuselage).  Flare and chaff dispensing pods could be carried in place of the underwing jammers if the mission called for them.  The EA-6A retained a limited ground attack capability (though it was seldom used for it); it’s most common weapon was the Shrike ARM.  The radar of the EA-6A is not as powerful as that of the A-6A.  Only 27 EA-6As were built, and the survivors of the Vietnam War were retired in 1985, after having been relegated to a training role after the war.  Some were also converted into regular A-6As after the Vietnam War. 

     The KA-6D is a tanker version of the A-6, made by converting existing A-6s (mostly A-6As, though 12 of the 90 made were modified from A-6Es).  The KA-6D is basically an A-6A which has been stripped down, with the radar and most of the DIANE system removed. (It retains a visual bombing system, but this was seldom used in Vietnam, and has not been used since.)The KA-6D is fitted with an inertial navigation system, a powerful navigation computer, and long-range radios, to allow it to find the aircraft which depend upon it.  (The KA-6D also has a secondary role as an air/sea rescue control aircraft.)  Internal fuel tanks are re-arranged, and the wings are strengthened to allow it to carry its huge external fuel tanks.  The belly of the fuselage has a hose, reel, and basket-type refueling drogue.  A special pod could also be carried on the fuselage hard point, allowing it to refuel Air Force aircraft and other aircraft which cannot be refueled by probe-and-drogue method; this pod would be carried in place of one of the KA-6D’s external fuel tanks.  Another pod may be carried on the centerline; this one acts as a backup to the primary hose and drogue, or may allow the KA-6D to ferry fuel to other carriers or land bases. The KA-6D may carry up to five external fuel tanks, all of which may be used refuel other aircraft if necessary; each one of these fuel tanks carry 1900 liters.  The bombardier/navigator has greatly-reduced duties in the KA-6D; his primary is job is as a navigator and to conduct the refueling operations.  There is a tiny chance that the hose can get stuck in the unreeled position; if this happens, the aircraft cannot land on a carrier or on land due to the inability to extend the tailhook and the high probability of a catastrophic fire as the unreeled hose drags the ground.  Because of this, a device was installed which severs the hose from the aircraft at the fuselage.  Though the KA-6D is also called the Intruder, it is more common for US Navy and Marine pilots to refer to the KA-6D by the name of “Texaco.”

     Twilight 2000 Notes: Many A-6s returned to service to replace aircraft losses during the Twilight War.  The A-6F Intruder II aircraft was at first not going to be produced, but with the Twilight War emergency, it was produced in limited quantities (perhaps 50, plus about 25 conversions from A-6E aircraft) during 1998-99.  Four EA-6As served in the Twilight War, replacing EA-6B losses after being pulled from boneyards and refurbished; these aircraft had more modern equipment than the original EA-6As.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

A-6A/B

$6,858,191

AvG

8.17 tons

26.58 tons

2

38

Radar

Shielded

A-6C

$8,047,949

AvG

8.17 tons

26.78 tons

2

38

Radar, FLIR, Image Intensification

Shielded

A-6E

$9,704,795

AvG

8.17 tons

27.4 tons

2

40

Radar, FLIR, Image Intensification

Shielded

A-6E/TRAM

$11,188,091

AvG

8.17 tons

27.4 tons

2

38

Radar, FLIR, Image Intensification

Shielded

A-6F

$12,146,506

AvG

8.55 tons

27.5 tons

2

40

Radar, FLIR, Image Intensification

Shielded

EA-6A

$23,442,450

AvG

6.8 tons

24.77 tons

2

40

Radar

Shielded

KA-6D

$6,966,950

AvG

9.5 tons

26.6 tons

2

35

None

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

A-6A/B/C/E

2072

1518 (185)

NA  130  8/4  40/30

7300

4898

12925

A-6F

2447

1611 (135)

NA  153  8/4  50/30

9600

7417

13500

EA-6A

2072

1518 (185)

NA  130  8/4  40/30

7300

4898

12925

KA-6D

2092

1550 (185)

NA  130  8/4  40/30

7300

4898

12925

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

A-6A/B

Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM, RWR, All Weather Flight

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+2

5 Hardpoints

None

A-6C

Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM, RWR, All Weather Flight, Inertial Navigation

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+3

5 Hardpoints

None

A-6E

EW Suite, Secure Radios, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM, Radar Warning, Deception Jamming, All-Weather Flight, Inertial Navigation

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+3

5 Hardpoints

None

A-6E/TRAM

EW Suite, Secure Radios, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM, Radar Warning, Deception Jamming, All-Weather Flight, Laser Designator, Inertial Navigation

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+4

5 Hardpoints

None

A-6F

EW Suite, Secure Radios, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM, Radar Warning Receiver, Active Jamming, All-weather Flight, HUD, IR Uncage, Track While Scan, Terrain Following Radar, Laser Designator, Inertial Navigation

1400/785m Hardened Runway

+5

7 Hardpoints

None

EA-6A

Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM, RWR, All Weather Flight, Deception Jamming

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+1

5 Hardpoints

None

KA-6D

Flare/Chaff Dispensers, RWR, Secure Radios, Inertial Navigation

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+1

5 Hardpoints

None

 

A-7 Corsair II

     Notes: The story of the A-7 Corsair II began in the early 1960s, when the US Navy realized that, while the A-4 Skyhawk was still hale, it was a small aircraft with limited capacity for external stores or updating, relatively fragile compared to more recent designs, and had limited fuel capacity.  The Navy put out a call for a better aircraft, and Vought was able in short order to (extensively) modify their F-8 Crusader fighter into a subsonic ground attack platform able to address most of the design shortcomings perceived by the Navy.  Deliveries began in 1967, with initial deliveries to the US Navy continuing until 1971.  The US Air Force, in an unusual move (the US Navy and Air Force, out of service rivalries if nothing else, generally refuse to operate the same aircraft), decided to have a version made to their requirements.  Then, seeing the Corsair II’s successes in Vietnam, was taken up by several NATO and some other countries.  The A-7 featured some innovative new technologies, such as the HUD and inertial navigation. The Turkish and Greeks still operate the A-7.  Claims to fame included some of the first use of smart bombs (against the Than Hoa bridge in this case) and as one of the favorite steeds of

 

The First Corsair IIs

     The airframe of the A-7A was essentially a shortened and stubby version of the F-8 Crusader’s; it quickly acquired the nickname of SLUF (Short Little Ugly Fucker, or “Fellow” in its family-friendly guise).  Most of the time, the “II” was omitted from the aircraft’s name, leaving the aircraft of simply “Corsair.”  The Corsair went from first flight to squadron service in little over a year, with full operational service in February in 1967. The Corsair was one of the first aircraft able to do all-weather attack, due to its radar bombing system, which was linked to a weather radar and it’s INS.  This also linked with a second weapons computer, which allowed it to use some smart bombs and missiles from sometimes long distances (the limiting factor was primarily of the munitions and not of the A-7’s bombing system).  Another innovative feature was the landing system and autopilot; the A-7 could navigate to and from the pilot and land on the carrier with hands off by the pilot. (In actual service, this rarely done, as the skies over North Vietnam could give the pilot too many unpleasant surprises, as could carrier landings.)  The early HUD showed information on the attitude and altitude of the Corsair, told the pilot if his aircraft was drifting off course, and gave the pilot an aiming circle appropriate to the munitions he was using, including for his gun and the pair of Sidewinders he carried (on either side of the aircraft behind and below the cockpit, for air-to-air combat). The INS could show had two scopes, one for attack and one for navigation.  The pilot, when using the autopilot, the pilot could set up to nine waypoints for the autopilot to follow, in addition to start and endpoints.  Finally, the A-7 was equipped with the latest version of TACAN navigation, normally used as a backup to the INS. The radio could use secured communications between aircraft which were possessed of the same sort of equipment.

     However, the A-7A had its problems and teeth-cutting. The Corsair had poor crosswind stability and its brakes were slow to stop the aircraft upon landing on a carrier (before pilots got used to this, landings could miss the number two wire more often than normal, and landings left the aircraft near the edge of the landing deck.  Some ended up hanging over the edge of the landing deck by the arrestor cable.  The autopilot/INS combination was effective, but took a lot of babysitting by the pilot.  The engine was a Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-6, an early version of the engine of the F-111 and early F-14s, omitting the afterburner and providing 11,350 pounds thrust, and this early engine version could be a little slow on the uptake. The A-7A struggled for altitude after launch due to the warm, humid conditions in Southeast Asia; fully-loaded A-7As could spend 20 minutes working up to their cruising speed of 580 miles per hour (933 KMH).  (Pilots did what was termed a low-altitude transition phase, which held the A-7A just above the waves to get a wing in ground effect from the water to help it speed up before it climbed to cruising altitude.)  The A-7A wings did not have precise control over the takeoff and landing flaps; they were always either fully-extended or completely retracted.  The result of the hot, humid conditions led the pilots to hold back on power when being launched in order to be able to throttle up when trying to accelerate.  The turbofan engine coupled with the INS and radar led to low fuel consumption compared to other attack aircraft. Wing hardpoints were plentiful, with eight under its wings and one on each side of the fuselage (Sidewinders or later, Sidearm ARMs only).  The two inner wing hardpoints are wet.

     The A-7B features dogtooth wings, something which increased maneuverability and lifting capacity by increasing wing area. The A-7B also had a full set of leading-edge slats, which further increased maneuverability, especially in combat maneuvering.  The wings had less of a sweep than the A-7A, giving the A-7B lesser wing loading, increasing lift and increasing the accuracy of landings and takeoffs.  Flap positions were changed so that the inner wing has flaps, while the outer edge had ailerons, even further increasing handling.  A spoiler was added to the top of the wing, further enhancing carrier landings, and the ability to slow down dramatically in combat maneuverability and being able to hit more targets during bombing or get the “one that got away.” The A-7B had a probe and drogue assembly, making aerial refueling possible.  Doppler radar was added, allowing the A-7 target to be moving and still hit its target (as long as if the target was not moving fast).  This system was not designed to be useful in air-to-air combat.  The A-7B was equipped with a later version of the A-7A’s engine developing 12,200 pounds thrust.

     The A-7 was capable of using virtually all of the Navy’s air-to-ground munitions. The A-7A was not equipped with the Vulcan rotary cannon of later A-7s; instead, the A-7A (and A-7B) were equipped with Mk 12 20mm autocannons, one on each side of the intake.

     The A-7C was produced for the US Air Force as a stopgap between the Navy A-7s they had borrowed and the purpose-built A-7Ds that were on order.  The A-7Cs were flown by only two squadrons and made only one combat deployment.  The A-7C received the ready components of the A-7E, which was not yet in production or service.  The A-7C received many of the avionics and weapon upgrades bound for the A-7E, including the replacement of the two Mk 12 cannon by a single M-61 Vulcan firing from the outside of the front end of the air intake. It also the improved HUD of the A-7E, and both the bombing computer and air-to-air computers were improved.  The A-7C used the TF-30-P8 of the A-7B, due to delays in the engine designed for the A-7E.  The carrier that hosted these A-7Cs, the USS America, later did two peacetime deployments before swapping it’s A-7Cs for A-7Es.

     Used by both the Navy and Air Force, the two-seat TA-7C was a trainer for the A-7.  The TA-7C was about 86 centimeters longer than the standard A-7C to accommodate the IP, and there was a reduction in internal fuel carried.  Despite having an instruction role, the TA-7C retained full combat capability (though neither the Air Force or Navy used it in combat). Eight TA-7Cs were outfitted as Aggressor aircraft for training; these were designated EA-7L. The EA-7Ls were used to simulate Wild Weasels and electronic warfare aircraft, though they could carry several jamming pods that other A-7s could not, and otherwise retained full combat capability. 49 TA-7Cs and EA-7Ls were upgraded to the Allison engine; these retained the designations of TA-7C and EA-7L.

      The Navy replaced it’s A-7s in the early 1980s, largely with the F/A-18.

 

Later US Corsairs

     What’s interesting is that the Air Force originally had no intention of buying the Corsair or any other dedicated ground attack platform.  The Army, however, was (and still is) prohibited by law and regulation from owning and operating armed fixed-wing assets (and don’t get me started on that one).  The Army need close air support, and none of the aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory really fit that bill, being supersonic attack or fighter aircraft.  (The nickname of “fast movers” came about for a reason, and it was not a mark of respect for the Air Force aircraft’s abilities at the time. And don’t get me started on that one either.) The Air Force therefore went looking for something they could deploy quickly and easily and would get the Army off its back.  This brought the first true Air Force version, the A-7D.  However, the A-7D was not simply a repurposed Navy A-7; the Air Force added another improvements, and the A-7 became a true close air support platform.

     The Air Force felt that the Navy A-7s were underpowered, and insisted upon an engine with more power that allowed the A-7 to take more munitions and give a little more speed.  They selected the Allison TF41-A-1 turbofan, a license-built Rolls-Royce Spey engine.  This boosted the A-7D’s power to 14,500 pounds thrust.  The A-7D could then produce near-sonic speeds in level flight and easily break the sound barrier in a dive, yet fly relatively slow for close support missions if necessary due to enlarged flaps. The A-7D had a new, more informative HUD with better visibility, yet did not interfere so much with the pilot’s view of his surroundings.  New avionics included a new ECM and ECCM package, increased-capacity chaff and flare launchers, and a further improved bombing avionics package.  The A-7D had the M-61 Vulcan cannot as standard, instead of the somewhat ad hoc installation on the A-7C.  The troublesome brakes of the Navy A-7s were fixed by upgrading the landing gear hydraulic system. The A-7D added “dogfight slats” to the leading edge of the wings, improving low-speed and mid-speed maneuverability. The A-7D was ready for squadron service by 1970, but did not arrive in Southeast Asia until 1972.  Even though the A-7D also flew bombing missions against North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, it quickly showed its mettle; in 12,928 sorties, only four A-7Ds were lost to ground fire or SAMs.  The A-7D was largely replaced in the active Air Force by the mid-1980s and the early 90s in the Air National Guard, mostly by A-10s and F-16s.

     The improved A-7D impressed the Navy, sufficient enough that it ordered its own navalized version of the A-7D.  This was the A-7E.  However, there were delays in the deliveries of the Allison engine to the Navy, so the A-7E saw duty at first with TF-30-P-6 engine for several months.  67 such lower-power A-7Es saw service, before they were upgraded to the Allison engine.  The A-7E almost totally replaced the A-4 Skyhawk by 1970, as well as the earlier A-7As and A-7Bs (which were moved to reserve units that were not participating in the Vietnam War).  Perhaps the A-7E’s greatest claim to fame was its participation in the mining of Haiphong Harbor.  By the late 1980s, the A-7E had been largely replaced by the F/A-18 in active Navy service, the A-7Es being retired to AMARC. Though the A-7E was largely a Navy/Marine version of the A-7A/A-7B, it featured several upgrades and the addition of new avionics.  The A-7E could integrate its fighting and navigation equipment with the AN/AAR-45 FLIR pod, and later other FLIR pods as they became available.  The ECM suite was improved and more effective than that of the A-7D.

     In the early 1980s, the TA-7D version of the A-7E, later redesignated the A-7K, came into service.  The A-7K’s fuselage was extended both front and rear, so it did not have to lose any avionics and so the fuel reduction was not as severe.  As with the TA-7C, the A-7K retained full combat capability.  The A-7K could be easily distinguished by its humpbacked appearance around the canopy and the training edge of the canopy; this occurred because the rear cockpit was raised to give the IP or WSO a better view.

 

Foreign-Use Corsairs

     The Greek A-7H was for the most part the same as the A-7D, with the exception of using some Greek-made avionics built under license.  The A-7Hs replaced the Greek F-104s, which were put into storage at AMARC for the Greeks.  The Greeks are still flying the A-7H, with avionics replacements and maintenance work, though in some cases there were actual improvements in the avionics.  It is rumored that the Greeks had Israeli help for those improvements, but neither country has confirmed this.  (The Israelis have done a lot of weapon and vehicle upgrades for several customers; however, on the other hand the Israelis are closer allies to Turkey than Greece.)  49 of Greece’s TA-7Cs were upgraded to the Allison engine. At the same time, the Greeks bought a number of TA-7Cs; there are rumors that some were used in border incidents against the Turkish.  A-7Hs have a secondary role of air defense and are modified to carry four Sidewinders.

     In the early 1980s, some A-7A airframes were taken out of AMARC and largely brought up for the most part to A-7E standards.  However, they used TF30-P-408 turbofans (equivalent in game terms to the TF30-P-8), and retained the dual 20mm autocannons of the A-7A.  The customer for these A-7s was Portugal, and they were designated A-7P.  For unknown reasons, the A-7Ps have heavily suffered from breakdowns and attrition, and Vought ended up providing 20 non-flyable A-7As for spares.

     In 1995, 18 A-7Es and TA-7Cs were provided to the Thai Air Force, where they became the first Thai combat jets.  Two non-flyable A-7Es were also provided as sources of spare parts.

 

The Strikefighter: the A-7F

     The A-7F (more properly called the YA-7F, as it had very limited production for testing) had its genesis in an Air Force request for prototypes of a Close Air Support/ Battlefield Air Interdictor (CAS/BAI) in 1985.  The Air Force thought that it’s A-10s might be too vulnerable in the skies of Europe, and that a strike aircraft that could also fulfill the role of a fighter might be a good escort for the A-10s.  The official name of the program was Corsair Plus, but its intended role led to the YA-7F being called the Strikefighter.  The fuselage has sections added in front of and behind the wings, extending the length by 122 centimeters.  The tail fin and rudder were enlarged to provide greater stability and more responsive turning. The wings were enlarged by adding leading edge root extensions.  The fuselage was canted upwards, allowing the seat to be mounted a bit reclined (like that of the F-16).  The flaps were larger, allowing better stability at low speed and when landing.  The cockpit had was a partial glass cockpit, with a HOTAS-type stick and throttle, and the HUD was switchable between air-to-ground and air-to-air modes, and provided more information.  This was combined to a precision bombing computer and air-to-air computer, and A-7F more and more conceptually similar to the F/A-18. The A-7F had integral night attack capability. The A-7F had a single Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 afterburning turbofan, capable of not only greater lifting power, but supersonic flight.

     The YA-7F was not ordered into production; with the Air Force having lots of F-16s and the Navy having growing amounts of F/A-18s, it was considered redundant.  In the end, though it was considered a pre-production aircraft, only two were built.

 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: The A-7F was produced mainly for the US Air National Guard units in some states, and few of them were built at that (perhaps 150 of them).  Some of them ranged as far as Nome, Alaska, and even one strike over the Bering Straits into Eastern Siberia.

 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

A-7A

$27,385,439

AvG

6.8 tons

14.49 tons

1

27

Radar (Weather Only)

Enclosed

A-7B

$30,050,735

AvG

6.8 tons

13.52 tons

1

27

Radar (Weather/Bombing Only)

Enclosed

A-7C

$29,957,340

AvG

6.8 tons

17.24 tons

1

30

Radar

Enclosed

A-7D

$30,981,759

AvG

6.8 tons

17.24 tons

1

30

Radar

Enclosed

A-7E

$31,479,759

AvG

6.8 tons

17.24 tons

1

31

Radar, FLIR, Image Intensification

Enclosed

TA-7C/EA-7L

$33,197,156

AvG

6.8 tons

18.41 tons

2

32

Radar

Enclosed

TA-7C/EA-7L (Allison Engine)

$34,193,071

AvG

6.8 tons

18.41 tons

2

32

Radar

Enclosed

A-7K

$38,875,606

AvG

6.8 tons

18.44 tons

2

34

Radar, FLIR, Image Intensification

Enclosed

A-7H (Upgraded)

$24,873,869

AvG

6.8 tons

16.67 tons

1

34

Radar

Enclosed

TA-7H (Upgraded)

$31,211,005

AvG

6.8 tons

16.96 tons

2

34

Radar

Enclosed

A-7P

$24,203,234

AvG

6.8 tons

16.49 tons

1

32

Radar, FLIR, Image Intensification

Enclosed

A-7F

$40,060,838

AvG

8.16 tons

21.06 tons

1

34

Radar, FLIR, Image Intensification

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

A-7A

1376

688 (140)

NA  334  8/5  40/30

5600

1153

14996

A-7B

1400

650 (130)

NA  375  8/5  45/25

5600

1212

13381

A-7C

1350

675 (130)

NA  338  8/5  50/40

5600

1379

11826

A-7D/E

1376

689 (130)

NA  345  8/4  60/35

5600

1393

11826

TA-7C/EA-7L

1332

667 (130)

NA  334  8/5  50/40

5376

1541

11826

TA-7C/EA-7L (Allison Engine)

1359

671 (130)

NA  336  8/5  50/40

5376

1572

11826

A-7K

1359

671 (130)

NA  336  8/5  50/40

5488

1572

11826

A-7H (Upgraded)

1400

699 (130)

NA  350  8/4  60/35

5600

1393

11826

TA-7H (Upgraded)

1382

688 (130)

NA  335  8/5  50/40

5376

1407

11826

A-7P

1328

664 (140)

NA  332  8/5  40/20

5600

1196

14996

A-7F

2208

1020 (125)

NA  510  8/4  40/25

6600

1923

15200

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

A-7A

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (15 Each), Secure Radios, RWR, All Weather Flight, ECM (-2)

1200/800m Hardened Runway

+1

2x20mm Mk 12 Autocannons, 8 Hardpoints

1200x20mm

A-7B

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (15 Each), Secure Radios, RWR, All Weather Flight, ECM (-3)

1200/800m Hardened Runway

+3

2x20mm Mk 12 Autocannons, 8 Hardpoints

1200x20mm

A-7C

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (15 Each), Secure Radios, RWR, All Weather Flight, ECM (-3)

1200/800m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan Gatling Gun, 8 hardpoints

1032x20mm

A-7D

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (20 Each), Secure Radios, RWR, All Weather Flight, ECM (-4)

1200/800m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan Gatling Gun, 8 hardpoints

1032x20mm

A-7E/A-7K

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (20 Each), Secure Radios, RWR, All Weather Flight, Laser Designator, ECM (-4)

1200/800m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan Gatling Gun, 8 hardpoints

1032x20mm

TA-7C

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (15 Each), Secure Radios, RWR, All Weather Flight, ECM (-3)

1200/800m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan Gatling Gun, 10 hardpoints

1032x20mm

A-7H/TA-7H (Upgraded)

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (15 Each), Secure Radios, RWR, All Weather Flight, ECM (-4)

1200/800m Hardened Runway

+4

20mm Vulcan Gatling Gun, 8 hardpoints

1032x20mm

A-7P

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (15 Each), Secure Radios, RWR, All Weather Flight, ECM (-2)

1200/800m Hardened Runway

+3

2x20mm Mk 12 Autocannons, 8 Hardpoints

1200x20mm

A-7F

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (25 Each), Secure Radios, RWR, All Weather Flight, Laser Designator, ECM (-5), IRCM (-2)

1200/800m Hardened Runway

+4

20mm Vulcan Gatling Gun, 8 hardpoints

1032x20mm

 

A-10 Thunderbolt II

     The A-10 is heavily armored and carries a massive amount of ordinance to a long range.  It is an ugly aircraft, and was quickly nicknamed the Warthog by its crews, and acquired a great reputation for tank-busting and general ground support during the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and the Twilight War.  The A-10 may be refueled in air, and has an ejection seat.  The A-10 is flown only by the US and South Korea.

     The A-10 N/AW (or A-10B) is a version of the A-10 that addresses the A-10's greatest shortcoming, the lack of night attack capability.  The A-10 NAW has night vision and terrain-following radar for treetop navigation. 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: The A-10 N/AW was very rare in the Twilight War, perhaps 50 being modified from existing A-10 aircraft, and being deployed to the American Southwest. 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

A-10A

$1,042,518

AvG

7.26 tons

22.68 tons

1

32

None

Shielded

A-10B N/AW

$2,425,613

AvG

7.26 tons

24.15 tons

1

40

FLIR, Radar, Image Intensification

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

(Both)

1412

353 (90)

NA  88  9/6  50/40

4850

8094

10700

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

Armament

RF

Ammo

A-10A

Flare/Chaff Dispensers, IR Suppression, Laser Designator, HUD, Armored Fuselage

440/400m Primitive Runway

GAU-8 Autocannon, 11 Hardpoints

+3

1174x30mm

A-10B N/AW

Flare/Chaff Dispensers, IR Suppression, Laser Designator, Terrain Following Radar, HUD, Armored Fuselage

440/400m Primitive Runway

GAU-8 Autocannon, 11 Hardpoints

+3

1174x30mm

 

Cessna A-37 Dragonfly

     Notes: This attack aircraft was developed from a trainer, the T-37 Tweet, in the late 1960s.  It is not used by the US, but is used by Chile, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, South Korea, Peru, El Salvador, Thailand, Uruguay, and Vietnam.  It did have limited service with US forces in the Vietnam War. The entry here will handle the A-37 but not the T-37 variant. The Dragonfly was also known in some circles as the “Super Tweet.”   The A-37 platform was meant from the first to be useful in COIN, aircraft, light gunship, and trainer.

     The history of the Dragonfly in combat began in mid-1967, when 25 were sent to Vietnam under the Combat Dragon program.  For this role, they were outfitted with multi-use pylons capable of carrying bombs, (iron and cluster), rocket packs, napalm canisters, and as many as two SUU-11/A Minigun pods; this is in addition to an internal GAU-2B/A Minigun. An unusual type of MER used allowed the Dragonfly to carry a small external fuel tank and up to three 250-pound bombs on the same rack; however, if anything had to be ejected, everything on the pylon had to be ejected. Missions were to include Sandy flights, helicopter escort, CAS, FAC, and night interdiction. The second seat on FAS and CAS missions was normally occupied by an observer or a dedicated weapons officer; in practice, in all missions other than FAC, the second pilot/weapons officer seat was empty, allowing an increase of 200 kilograms in ordinance carriage. However, full controls were retained at both positions. The initial aircraft for this role was an A-37A, a heavily-modified Tweet initially designated YAT-37D Super Tweet, then AT-37D Super Tweet, with twin GE J85-J2/5 non-afterburning turbojets with 2400 pounds thrust each. Four hardpoints of surprising ability were carried under each wing and on the wingtips; however, the wingtip pylons were designed only for 1893-liter fuel tanks each.

     Thousands of sorties were flown by the A-37A in the first year; in this year, numerous deficiencies were noted, enough that the pilots called the A-37A more often by the “Super Tweet” appellation, even though it was already designated the Dragonfly. Most complaints among pilots was range and endurance; speed was not as much as an issue to to the nature of its missions.  Another complaint were the non-boosted controls, particularly in high-G or high-load situations.  The A-37A was not armored, and the flight controls were non-redundant.

     In 1967, the first A-37Bs arrived in country; most went to the AFRVN, who by this time were flying most of the A-37As in country.  They were all new-build aircraft, though based on the design of the T-37C.  The A-37B included higher external stores limits, four wet hardpoints per wing, higher G-limits for the airframe (from 5G to 6G); flight surfaces were made redundant, self-sealing fuel tanks replaced the internal fuel tanks.  The cockpit seats were armored and ballistic nylon curtains were added to the front of the cockpit behind the instruments and to the sides of the cockpit and the rear.  The flight surfaces allowed for more maneuverability. Aerial refueling capability was added, and updated avionics were installed (including de-icing and a suite of indicators and controls designed for the FAC mission).  Higher-thrust 2850-pounds-thrust GE J85-GE-17A replaced the A-37A’s engines.  These engines could be turned on and off in the air, as pilots found that a one-engine cruise configuration was effective.  A midair refueling probe helped the situation. Like its predecessors, the A-37B was not pressurized, though it did have oxygen and masks.

     These aircraft went to boneyards after use or went into civilian ownership. Eventually, all were replaced by the A-10 Warthog.

     When Vietnam fell, 92 A-37Bs and As were recovered from the AFRVN before the NVA could capture them.  These aircraft were at first redesignated OA-37D and were assigned to former TAC units that were now AFNG or AFRES units.  They flew in combat as Operation Just Cause, primarily in CAS missions.  Some 95 were captured and used by the Vietnamese as late as the early-1980s, used for missions over Cambodia and against Chinese forces.  The A-37B and OA-37B are still used today in Central and South America.

     In flight and firing tests, the A-37B proved themselves able to carry GPU-2/A pods with M-197 20mm cannons or AMD pods with 30mm ADEN guns could be carried on the centerline and used effectively; however, no combat use of these pods are in evidence. Minigun pods, on the other hand, were used quite often to increase machinegun firepower.

 

Experimental Dragonflies

     The A-37E, also called the A-37E/STOL, had more powerful engines, thrust reversers, and larger flaps to decrease takeoff run and landing run.  It has a centerline gun pod for easier aiming (in a time where such an installation was important for radar gunsights and even a minigun in a small aircraft). It had weather radar, mild ECM, and flare and chaff dispensers.  The fuselage was longer and the A-37E had greater lifting capability. This version was never built.

     The A-37F has reduced lifting capacity compared to the A-37E, but because it has rotatable wingtip VTOL pods which could also be used for VIFF flying.  This would have made the A-37F a STOVL aircraft, with a very short landing run or takeoff run (when not operating as a VTOL aircraft). It had a more advanced gunsight and a bombing radar gunsight. As the wingtips could no longer be used for fuel tanks, two fuselage hardpoints were added; in addition, space in the fuselage formerly used for the engines could be used for fuel. This version too was never built.

     The Tebuan was a proposed Canadian variant of the CL-41 Tutor, itself a version of the T-37 Tweet.  It was a fully weaponized version, with an extended nose containing the radar of an F-104B, and capable of using heat-seeking missiles (primarily Falcons or Sidewinders) in addition to the normal armament.  It had a pair of GE J85-J4 turbojets with 2950 pounds thrust each.  It never made it past a few mockups.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

A-37A

$572,612

JP4

2.13 tons

5.44 tons

2

10

None

Enclosed

A-37B

$585,068

JP4

2.67 tons

6.8 tons

2

10

None

Enclosed

OA-37B

$2,060,454

JP4

2.64 tons

6.94 tons

2

12

FLIR

Enclosed

A-37E

$2,528,757

JP4

2.64 tons

7.07 tons

2

14

FLIR, Weather Radar

Enclosed

A-37F

$2,702,077

JP4

2.48 tons

7.21 tons

2

17

FLIR, Weather Radar

Enclosed

Tebuan

$6,424,600

JP4

2.5 tons

7.45 tons

2

13

FLIR, Weater Radar, Radar

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

A-37A

1242

248 (90)

NA  62  8/5  40/30

2000

1449

12730

A-37B

1448

290 (80)

NA  70  9/5  30/20

2000

1698

12700

OA-37B

1420

284 (75)

NA  69  9/5  30/20

2000

1733

12700

A-37E

1567

312 (65)

NA  76  9/5  30/20

2200

1919

13970

A-37F

1567

312 (65)

NA  76  9/5  30/20

2500

2119

13970

Tebuan

1575

314 (90)

NA  77  9/5  30/20

2000

1929

13970

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

A-37A

IFF, Secure Radios

550/495m Primitive Runway

+1

SUU-11/A Minigun, 8 Hardpoints

1600x7.62mm

A-37B

IFF, Secure Radios

550/495m Primitive Runway

+2

SUU-11/A Minigun, 8 Hardpoints

1600x7.62mm

OA-37B

IFF, Secure Radios, Laser Designator

550/495m Primitive Runway

+2

SUU-11/A Minigun, 8 Hardpoints

1600x7.62mm

A-37E

IFF, Secure Radios, Laser Designator, Flare/Chaff (16 each), ECM (-2)

440/396m Primitive Runway

+2

SUU-11/A Minigun, 8 Hardpoints

1600x7.62mm

A-37F

IFF, Secure Radios, Laser Designator, Flare/Chaff (16 each), ECM (-2)

330/200m Primitive Runway (& STOVL Characteristics)

+3

SUU-11/A Minigun, 8 Hardpoints

1600x7.62mm

Tebuan

IFF, RWR, Secure Radios, Flares/Chaff (16 Each), ECM (-2), Laser Designator

550/495m Primitive Runway

+3

SUU-11/A Minigun, 8 Hardpoints

1600x7.62mm

 

AC-130U Spectre

     Notes: This aircraft is a development of a number of Vietnam-era experiments with arming transport aircraft for ground attack purposes.  The AC-130U is a development on the C-130 Hercules airframe, and is heavily armed with weapons on stabilized mounts.  All weapons fire from the left side of the aircraft, and weapons are computer-synchronized to fire at the same aiming point, or they may be aimed independently at different targets.  The aircraft has no ejection seats, but is capable of in-flight refueling.

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

$20,959,144

AvG

1.4 tons

63.6 tons

14

64

FLIR, SLIR, Radar

Enclosed

 

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

1288

322 (90)

NA  81  5/3  35/20

24000

5512

9315

 

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

Laser Designator, ECM/IRCM, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, IR Suppression, Secure Radios

1105/800 Primitive Runway

+4

2x20mm Vulcan, 40mm Bofors L70, 105mm Howitzer

3600x20mmVul, 480x40mm, 24x105mm

 

 

EA-6B Prowler

     The EA-6B, though built on the basic Intruder airframe, is basically a totally different aircraft.  It was therefore given a new name – the Prowler – instead of being called the Intruder.  The most obvious differences to the observer are the four-seat configuration, with seats for three electronic warfare officers in addition to the pilot, and the large canoe-shaped fairing on the vertical stabilizer of the Prowler, carrying sensors and a special radar set.  There are numerous other blisters on the aircraft, mainly for antennas and other sensors.  The information from these sensors are fed to a central computer, which is then sent to the EW officers, who read them on large multifunction displays and determine the best way to combat the threat.  The Prowler is lengthened almost 1.4 meters to accommodate the extra crewmen.  Early versions had no offensive capability, but later the ability to fire antiradar missiles was added.  The Prowler generally carries as many as five jamming pods; these pods are equipped with generators powered by small propellers that turn in the slipstream when the aircraft is flying.

     There were actually several versions of the Prowler over the years.  The first versions used J52-P-8A engines, but these engines were quickly replaced with the more powerful J52-P-408 engines starting with the 22nd Prowler built.  Starting with the 29th Prowler, the aircraft was upgraded to the EXCAP (Expanded Capability) model; this version could jam double the number of radar frequencies (a total of eight complete frequency bands), and the jamming sets were more reliable than the earlier versions.  The computer was improved, with more memory and more processing power.  A tactical electronic intelligence capability was added with the advent of the TERPES (Tactical Electronic Processing and Evaluation System).  The EW suite was also equipped with a digital recording system to allow for post-mission analysis.  The jamming system was also equipped with EJCU (Exciter Jammer Control Unit) which gave the jammers an additional five frequencies which they could jam. 

     The ICAP (Improved Capability) version was introduced in 1976, with the building of the 54th Prowler; in addition, 21 earlier Prowlers were upgraded to the ICAP configuration.  The workload on the three EW officers was more equally divided (before, the two back-seat EW officers had much more work to do than the front-seat EW officer); communications jamming was given to the front-seat EW officer, while the back-seaters worked solely on radar threats.  (In practice, the communications jammers were rarely used, and often not even installed, and the front-seat EW officer served primarily as a navigator.)  The surveillance receivers were tuned to drastically improve the response time.  A new more powerful radar set was installed.   New, higher-capacity chaff dispensers were installed, and some of the radar receivers were replaced with new receivers (which unfortunately proved to be equally unreliable). 

     The ICAP II version arrived in 1984, with the 99th Prowler built.  Most EXCAP Prowlers were also upgraded to the ICAP II configuration, and later virtually all ICAP Prowlers were also upgraded to ICAP II.  Major improvements were made to the external jamming pods: before, the pods had to be tuned to a specific frequency range before the aircraft flew and they could not be changed in flight (though several frequency ranges were available, as noted above).  ICAP II Prowlers could generate jamming in any one of seven frequency bands, changeable in flight, and two such bands could be jammed simultaneously.  In addition, these bands encompassed a wider range of frequencies than earlier models.  The computer was again upgraded, with more power and memory.  A Carrier Inertial Navigation System (CAINS) was installed; this system could home in on a friendly aircraft carrier, and if necessary, land the Prowler without assistance from the pilot.  The threat displays were upgraded to make information much clearer, and potential threat information was pre-programmed into the computer allowing for faster response times.  The ICAP II was equipped with a TACAN link system so that two Prowlers could work together and coordinate their activities.  After the 111th Prowler built, ICAP IIs had the ability to employ the HARM antiradiation missile, with the combat system being controlled by the front-seat EW officer.  Beginning with the 134th Prowler built, the ICAP IIs were further upgraded to Block 86 standard; this was a relatively minor upgrade, distinguished primarily by two additional radios and new, more reliable antennas for the radios and threat warning receivers.  The 170th Prowler built, an ICAP II was the last production Prowler made, in 1991.

     This did not stop the upgrade of the Prowlers, however, though subsequent upgrades were made to existing aircraft.  The ADVCAP (Advanced Capability) upgrade was cancelled in the 1995 budget, but the Navy still demanded upgrades to the Prowlers to deal with new threats, so the Block 89A upgrades were made, with 125 Prowlers being so upgraded.  Computers were again upgraded, as were the radios.  GPS was added, as well as an instrument landing system (ILS).  High- and low-band radar jammers were improved, widening their range of jammable frequencies as well as the strength of jamming.  The EJCU was also improved, and communications jammers were greatly improved to the point where they were actually useful. 

     The first ICAP III Prowler squadron is expected to be operational in June of 2005, though it is rumored that some ICAP III aircraft have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan.  All Prowlers should be ICAP III aircraft by 2010.  The ICAP III has greatly increased computer power which allows more storage of data about potential threats as well as a faster response to actual threats, as well as a decreased workload for the crewmen.  A new detection system is installed which allows the Prowler to precisely pinpoint the origin of hostile radar sites, providing increased accuracy for the Prowler’s antiradiation missiles.  The GPS is also linked to the jammers, which allows increased efficiency of jamming; in addition, the computers can pick out the most dangerous threats and either automatically jam them or let the EW officers know what those choices are.  (This means that to a limited extent, the computers can take care of threats by themselves if crewmembers are incapacitated or killed.)  All four seats use “glass cockpit” technology, where almost all analog instruments are replaced by digital readouts or large multifunction displays.  All jammers are increased in strength, frequency agility, and width of frequency bands. 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: Virtually all the Prowlers used in the Twilight War were in Block 89A configuration, but there were still some ICAP IIs flying, and some training squadrons in the US still had some ICAP-configuration Prowlers, which were later pressed into combat service.  There were no ICAP III-configuration Prowlers in the Twilight 2000 timeline.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

EA-6B (Early)

$25,052,610

AvG

6.8 tons

29.48 tons

4

45

Radar

Shielded

EA-6B

$29,252,610

AvG

6.8 tons

29.48 tons

4

45

Radar

Shielded

EA-6B EXCAP

$29,983,925

AvG

6.8 tons

29.48 tons

4

45

Radar

Shielded

EA-6B ICAP

$30,346,805

AvG

6.8 tons

29.6 tons

4

45

Radar

Shielded

EA-6B ICAP II (Early)

$31,105,475

AvG

6.8 tons

29.6 tons

4

45

Radar

Shielded

EA-6B ICAP II (Late)

$31,416,530

AvG

6.8 tons

29.6 tons

4

45

Radar

Shielded

EA-6B Block 89A

$32,818,050

AvG

6.8 tons

29.45 tons

4

45

Radar

Shielded

EA-6B ICAP III

$33,638,501

AvG

6.8 tons

29.45 tons

4

45

Radar

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

EA-6B (Early)

1904

1410 (185)

NA  130  8/4  40/30

7230

5034

12619

EA-6B (Others)

2326

1720 (185)

NA  130  8/4  40/30

7230

6174

12619

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

EA-6B (Early)

Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM, RWR, All Weather Flight, Deception Jamming, EW Suite

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+1

5 Hardpoints

None

EA-6B/EA6B EXCAP

Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM, RWR, All Weather Flight, Deception Jamming, EW Suite

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+1

5 Hardpoints

None

EA-6B ICAP

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (16/16), ECM, RWR, All Weather Flight, Deception Jamming, EW Suite, Secure Radios

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+1

5 Hardpoints

None

EA-6B ICAP II (Early)

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (16/16), ECM, RWR, All Weather Flight, Deception Jamming, EW Suite, Secure Radios

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+2

5 Hardpoints

None

EA-6B ICAP II (Late)

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (16/16), ECM, RWR, All Weather Flight, Deception Jamming, EW Suite, Secure Radios

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+2

7 Hardpoints

None

EA-6B Block 89A

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (16/16), ECM, RWR, All Weather Flight, Deception Jamming, GPS, EW Suite, Secure Radios

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+3

7 Hardpoints

None

EA-6B ICAP III

Flare/Chaff Dispensers (16/16), ECM, RWR, All Weather Flight, Deception Jamming, GPS, EW Suite, Secure Radios

1400/785 Hardened Runway

+4

7 Hardpoints

None

     

F-15E Strike Eagle

     Notes: This version of the F-15 air superiority fighter was adopted by the USAF in 1984, and gave a stellar performance in the 1991 Gulf War.  The Strike Eagle features new engines, navigation/attack pods under the intakes, and new skin for less radar observability.  The Strike Eagle also has standard fit conformal FAST (Fuel and Sensor Tactical) pods fitted beside each intake that can carry up to 1000 kg of fuel and/or sensors, designators, or ECM/IRCM devices.  The crewmembers have ejection seats, and the aircraft is capable of in-flight refueling.  In addition to the US Air Force, the Strike Eagle is used by Israel and Saudi Arabia.  The Strike Eagle retains its air-to-air capability, and is capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

F100-PW-220 Engines

$6,110,375

AvG

11 tons

36.74 tons

2

32

Radar, FLIR, Thermal Imaging, Image Intensification

Shielded

F100-PW-290 Engines

$6,485,568

AvG

11 tons

36.74 tons

2

37

Radar, FLIR, Thermal Imaging, Image Intensification

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

F100-PW-220 Engines

5280

1320 (130)

NA  330  10/7  100/70

13300

19390

18290

F100-PW-290 Engines

5888

1472 (130)

NA  368  10/7  100/70

13300

25159

18290

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

(Both)

Secure Radios, Chaff/Flare Dispensers, Radar Warning Receiver, ECM, Deception Jamming, Auto Track, HUD, IR Uncage, Look-Down Radar, TFR, Track While Scan, All Weather Flight, Target ID

2800/1055m Hardened Runway

+4

20mm Vulcan, 13 Hardpoints

950x20mmM61

 

F-105 Thunderchief

     Notes: This aircraft was designed from the outset for tactical bombing missions, including nuclear bombing.  It was not designed for maneuverability, just speed, range, and the ability to carry a nuclear weapon.  This led to a great many nicknames, such as Lead Sled, Ultra Hog, Flying Speedbrake, and the favorite, Thud.  The Thunderchief was a star in the bombing campaign against North Vietnam during the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Flown only by the US Air Force and Air National Guard, the Thunderchiefs were retired in 1984. The Thunderchief has in its belly an internal bomb bay; this bay can carry 1.36 tons of weapons, but this was much more likely in operational use to carry a 1500-liter fuel tank.  If the fuel tank is carried, a centerline hardpoint may be used. (EF-105s do not have this option; the bomb bay space is taken up with an extra crewmember and electronics.)

     The F-105A was only a prototype; soon after testing was complete, a new, more powerful engine was available, and the new F-105B became the first production aircraft.  The AF-105C was a proposed two-seat trainer, which was never put into production.  The F-105D was the configuration that most in which most Thunderchiefs were built; this version had a radar warning receiver added in 1966 and flare/chaff dispensers added in 1969.  The F-105D Thunderstick II model improved the bombing sights and accuracy.  The F-105E was a two seat trainer variant of the F-105D that was, as with the F-105C, never put into production.  The EF-105F and EF-105G were the first Wild Weasel electronic warfare aircraft built; their job was to act as “SAM bait,” and then knock out the SAM and radar sites with antiradiation missiles.  

     Twilight 2000 Notes: Some F-105s 100 were pulled from boneyards starting in 1997, refurbished, and sent back into combat.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

F-105B

$527,542

AvG

6.35 tons

23.97 tons

1

22

None

Shielded

F-105D (Early)

$1,662,712

AvG

6.35 tons

23.85 tons

1

28

Radar

Shielded

F-105D (Late)

$1,695,613

AvG

6.35 tons

23.97 tons

1

28

Radar

Shielded

F-105D (T-Stick II)

$1,742,713

AvG

6.35 tons

23.97 tons

1

28

Radar

Shielded

EF-105F

$1,900,057

AvG

5.68 tons

25.09 tons

2

32

Radar

Shielded

EF-105G

$2,058,613

AvG

5.68 tons

25.09 tons

2

36

Radar

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

F-105B

4391

1098 (150)

NA  274  4/2  40/20

4500

6161

12560

F-105D (All)

4474

1119 (150)

NA  280  4/2  40/20

4500

6475

12560

EF-105 (Both)

4360

1090 (150)

NA  273  4/2  40/20

4500

6464

12560

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

F-105B

None

1400/950m Hardened Runway

+1

20mm Vulcan, 5 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

1000x20mm

F-105D (Early)

None

1400/950m Hardened Runway

+2

20mm Vulcan, 5 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

1000x20mm

F-105D (Late)

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers

1400/950m Hardened Runway

+2

20mm Vulcan, 5 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

1000x20mm

F-105D (T-Stick II)

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers

1400/950m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan, 5 Hardpoints, Internal Bomb Bay

1000x20mm

EF-105F

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM

1400/950m Hardened Runway

+2

20mm Vulcan, 5 Hardpoints

1000x20mm

EF-105G

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM, Deception Jamming, Active Jamming

1400/950m Hardened Runway

+3

20mm Vulcan, 5 Hardpoints

1000x20mm

 

F-117A Nighthawk

     Notes: Known more commonly to the public as the Stealth Fighter, the Nighthawk is the first operational aircraft to exploit low observable stealth characteristics.  All detection attempts with IR detection gear (including thermal, IR, or FLIR) are two levels more difficult than normal, and detection attempts with radar are four levels more difficult than normal.  Guiding radar guided missiles against the aircraft are likewise four levels more difficult than normal, and IR missile home at three levels more difficult than normal.  When the aircraft's bomb bay doors are open, radar attempts are only one level more difficult than normal.  Known to some pilots as the Wobbly Goblin, the Nighthawk requires great skill by its pilots.

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

$19,878,459

AvG

2.27 tons

23.81 tons

1

48

Radar, FLIR

Shielded

 

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

2067

517 (150)

NA  129  4/2  40/20

4000

7598

11765

 

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

Radar Warning Receiver, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, ECM, IRCM, HUD, Look-Down Radar, Target ID, Terrain Following Radar

1200/1500m Primitive Runway

+5

2 Weapons Bays

None

 

OV-1E Mohawk

     Notes: The OV-1E is the definitive version of the Mohawk, versions of which have been flying since 1959.  The Mohawk flew more hours per airframe than any other aircraft in the 1991 Gulf War.  The Echo model has more powerful 1800-horsepower engines, a GPS flight system, new avionics, and a new SLAR system.  They are dual-purpose surveillance and ground-attack aircraft.  The usual armament is a mix of M-2HB MG pods and 70mm rocket pods on the four free hardpoints.

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

$1,311,061

AvG

1.23 tons

8.21 tons

2

16

SLAR, FLIR

Enclosed

 

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

930

233 (120)

NA  58  7/4  45/35

930

472

7620

 

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

GPS, Flare/Chaff Dispensers, Secure Radios

744/615m Hardened Runway

+2

4 Hardpoints

None

 

OV-10 Bronco

     Notes: This aircraft was designed for forward air controllers, helicopter escort, and light ground attack and counterinsurgency work.  The OV-10 was originally used by the US Marines and Air Force, but by the outset of the Twilight War was used in the active duty role only by Thailand, Venezuela, Morocco, Philippines, Indonesia, and Oman.  The OV-10 was retired by US forces in 1994.

     The OV-10D NOGS (Night Observation GunShip) version of the Bronco was used by the US as late as the Gulf War.  It has night vision gear and a 20mm gun turret in the belly, as well as uprated engines to cope with the added weight. 

     Twilight 2000 Notes: The Bronco returned late in the Twilight War as an attack aircraft when no other aircraft was available. 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

OV-10A

$227,021

AvG

1.63 tons

6.55 tons

2+4

8

None

Enclosed

OV-10D

$549,054

AvG

2.4 tons

6.6 tons

2

10

FLIR, Passive IR

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

OV-10A/D

904

226 (90)

NA  57  9/6  60/45

955

523

7315

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

OV-10A

Flare/Chaff Dispensers, Secure Radios

600/500 Primitive Runway

+2

4xM-2HB, 9 Hardpoints

2000x.50

OV-10D

Flare/Chaff Dispensers, Secure Radios, GPS, Laser Designator

600/500 Primitive Runway

+3

20mm M-197 Autocannon, 4 Hardpoints

1000x20mm

 

S-3 Viking

     Notes: The S-3 antisubmarine aircraft was developed to replace the S-2 Tracker, an antisubmarine aircraft which was slow compared to modern aircraft, loud, and had electronics and detection gear which was increasingly ineffective against the Russian submarines of the time.  The first operational Viking squadron sailed in 1978, with the S-3A being the first operational type.  The S-3A was designed to be an efficient design, not necessarily a high-performance aircraft; though it has good range, it is slow compared to many modern combat aircraft.  It is, however, a surprisingly responsive and agile aircraft.  The fuselage is relatively short compared to the rest of the aircraft, though it is tall and one can pack a lot into it, especially considering the engines are in pods on the wings.  The S-3 has a crew of four: a pilot, co-pilot, and two antisubmarine/attack officers, the SENSO (sensor officer) and TACCO (tactical coordinator).  Only the pilot and co-pilot have controls for the aircraft, though all four have ejection seats.  The S-3 can be refueled in the air by other aircraft. 

     The radar in the nose of the aircraft is extremely precise, being one of the first to be able to pick out a submarine’s periscope protruding above even rough seas.  This radar mode is of relatively short range, but the radar also has modes which allow for a longer ranged, low-resolution maritime search, and an even longer-ranged radar used for navigation, which can pick up coastlines, islands, storm clouds, etc.  Other sensors include a retractable FLIR turret under the nose with 3x magnification, radar and radio detectors, a MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detector) boom which retracts into the tail (used to detect submarines under the water), and tubes under the belly in order to launch up sonobuoys, up to which 60 may be carried; the Viking also has the necessary gear to pick up the transmissions from the sonobuoys.  The Sonobuoys themselves may be standard sonobuoys, or special ones which emit smoke, flares, or flashing lights, communicate with submerged friendly submarines (or act as repeaters for surface ship or aircraft communications), homing beacons, or assist in SAR efforts. 

     The entire ASW suite of the S-3A was tied together by a powerful (for the time) Univac computer, which basically made all the sensors greater than the whole of their parts, by matching information stored in the computer with the information being gathered by the sensors.  The S-3A carried several short-range VHF radios and one long-range UHF radio.  The S-3A had inertial navigation and a TACAN receiver, as well as Doppler navigation radar, an altitude warning system, and an automatic carrier landing system. 

     Weapons were carried in an internal bomb bay and two hardpoints on the outer wings able to carry 680 kg each of weapons, countermeasure pods, or extra fuel tanks. 

      Though conceived in 1981, the first S-3B variants did not actually reach service until 1987.  The airframe, engines, and weight are essentially the same as the S-3A; the primary differences are internal.  They were all converted from existing S-3A aircraft, with 119 being converted by time the last one was converted in 1994.  The radar, FLIR, and the ESM receiver all received upgrades to make them more sensitive and powerful.  The sonobuoy receivers were also made more sensitive, an acoustic sensor was added, and the JTIDS (Joint Tactical information Datalink System) was added top the electronics, allowing the S-3B to interface with information from ships, submarines, and JSTARS aircraft, and certain other aircraft with a similar capability.  Large-capacity flare and chaff dispensers were added.  The S-3B may also use the Harpoon antiship missile, as well as perform air-to-ground attack missions using iron bombs, rockets, or Maverick missiles.  The improved radar range gives the S-3B a true stand-off attack capability, especially when using missiles.  The S-3B is also capable of buddy refueling, using special fuel tank pods made for the purpose. 

     The US-3A is a rare “COD” variant of the S-3A; it is basically an S-3 turned into a cargo aircraft.  In this role, the combat avionics are removed, and a less-powerful navigation-only radar is installed in place of the standard radar, along with a navigation beacon/receiver.  The ASW officers’ positions and equipment are removed, though a position for a loadmaster is installed.  Up to six passenger seats may be installed.  Internal cargo space is small at 7.6 cubic meters, though the hardpoints are retained and may carry cargo pods or drop tanks.  The US Navy decided to standardize on the C-2A Greyhound instead, though the Navy did acquire a total of seven US-3As.  One was lost in a crash, and the rest had been retired by the mid-1990s. 

     Another rare variant of the S-3 is ES-3A Sea Shadow; this is a dedicated ELINT platform.  In this role, the aircraft has all the ASW gear removed.  In its place is a variety of sensors for the conduct of electronic intelligence and eavesdropping operations at long range.  The radar was retained, but supplemented by an ISAR (Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar) system, allowing the Sea Shadow to make good-quality pictures from the radar returns.  The computers were greatly upgraded to cope with the information gathered.  The Sea Shadow has several automatic SIGINT devices, but they tended to be unreliable and the crew normally used the manual SIGINT devices instead.  The bomb bays are faired over, with what were the bomb bays holding electronic equipment instead.  The hardpoints are retained, and can be used for drop tanks of buddy refueling tanks.  There is a canoe-shaped fairing on top of the fuselage containing sensors and antennas; in all, some 60 antennas were added to the Sea Shadow.  The number of crew members was the same, but flight controls were removed from the copilot’s position and his role became that of a navigator and ELINT officer.  The result, unfortunately, was an aircraft which was substantially heavier and slower than the S-3A, but a reasonably effective ELINT platform – for the time.  16 such conversions were made starting in 1989, but in 1998, the decision was made to remove the Sea Shadows from service rather than upgrade them. 

     There were several Viking variants which were experimented with, but never got beyond the experimental phase or drawing board.  These include tankers, enlarged cargo variants, a proposed replacement for the E-2C Hawkeye known as SeaSTARS, antismuggling variants, and improved versions of the S-3B and ES-3A.  One variant known as the Aladdin Viking apparently saw service in Bosnia and may be a reconnaissance variant, but its operations were and are still classified.

     The S-3’s future is in doubt; the aircraft is considered old, and upgrading it would be expensive.  Several upgrades have been proposed, but the only ones approved adds GPS, CAINS, new radios, and better computers.  It is quite possible that the S-3 will be replaced by variants of the F/A-18F or the F-35 in the future, and the S-3 retired.  Only time will tell.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: The ES-3As and US-3As were, of course, not retired, but the late upgrades to the S-3B were never installed either.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

S-3A

$26,929,180

AvG

1.78 tons

23.83 tons

4

40

Radar, FLIR

Shielded

S-3B

$33,819,980

AvG

1.78 tons

24.08 tons

4

40

Radar, FLIR

Shielded

S-3B (Late)

$36,219,980

AvG

1.78 tons

24.09 tons

4

40

Radar, FLIR

Shielded

US-3A

$9,882,580

AvG

6.04 tons

22.57 tons

3+6

32

Radar

Shielded

ES-3A

$47,112,780

AvG

1.36 tons

24.65 tons

4

50

Radar, FLIR

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

S-3A/B/US-3A

2315

1710 (135)

NA  428  7/5  70/50

10983

4958

12190

ES-3A

2085

1540 (135)

NA  385  6/4  60/40

10983

4998

12190

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

S-3A

ASW Equipment, MAD Boom, Sonobuoys (60), Secure Radios, Look-Down Radar, Inertial Navigation

1400m/785m Hardened Runway

+2

Bomb Bay, 2 Hardpoints

None

S-3B

ASW Equipment, MAD Boom, Sonobuoys (60), Secure Radios, Look-Down Radar, Inertial Navigation, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (60)

1400m/785m Hardened Runway

+3

Bomb Bay, 2 Hardpoints

None

S-3B (Late)

ASW Equipment, MAD Boom, Sonobuoys (60), Secure Radios, Look-Down Radar, Inertial Navigation, Flare/Chaff Dispensers (60), GPS

1400m/785m Hardened Runway

+4

Bomb Bay, 2 Hardpoints

None

US-3A

Secure Radios, Inertial Navigation

1400m/785m Hardened Runway

None

2 Hardpoints

None

ES-3A

ELINT Suite, Radio Detectors, Radar Detectors, Secure Radios, Inertial Navigation

1400m/785m Hardened Runway

None

2 Hardpoints

None

 

T-2 Buckeye

     Notes: This was the US Navy and Marines' standard trainer before the introduction of the T-45 Goshawk, but some of them were recalled to duty during the Twilight War.  It is also used by Venezuela and Greece.  Like most aircraft of its class, it is unsophisticated and light. Its two wingtip hardpoints may only be used for drop tanks.  The T-2A is powered by a single engine; the T-2B has two smaller engines; the T-2C has two slightly less powerful engines.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: Some of these aircraft were returned to training duty to replace Goshawks that had been modified for an attack role.  Later, some Buckeyes themselves were modified for the strike role.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

T-2A

$130,000

AvG

1.59 tons

5.66 tons

2

10

None

Enclosed

T-2B

$158,126

AvG

1.59 tons

6.19 tons

2

12

None

Enclosed

T-2C

$156,206

AvG

1.59 tons

5.98 tons

2

12

None

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

T-2A

1165

291 (100)

NA  73  6/3  60/30

2065

1508

10000

T-2B

1761

440 (100)

NA  110  6/3  60/30

2065

2672

12320

T-2C

1728

432 (100)

NA  108  6/3  60/30

2065

2627

12320

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

(All)

None

500/450m Hardened Runway

+1

6 hardpoints

None

 

T-34C Mentor

     Notes: This basic trainer was also used by many countries as a COIN and FAC aircraft.  It is an improved version of the civilian Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft, with hardpoints added, and the piston engine replaced by a turboprop.  The Mentor is actually able to use Maverick missiles, in addition to bombs, rocket pods, and machinegun pods.  This aircraft, in addition to the US, is in use by many countries in Latin America, the Pacific Rim, and Africa.  The Mentor has no ejection seats and is not capable on in-flight refueling.  The T-34 is the base model; the T-34A and B are identical, but built for the Air Force and Navy respectively.  The T-34C Turbo Mentor is equipped with a much more powerful engine.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: Many of these aircraft were armed during the Twilight War and used in the continental US to fight Mexican and New American forces.

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

T-34

$31,136

AvG

408 kg

1.25 tons

2

4

None

Enclosed

T-34A/B

$31,298

AvG

427 kg

1.32 tons

2

4

None

Enclosed

T-34C

$35,136

AvG

534 kg

1.95 tons

2

4

None

Enclosed

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Mnvr/Acc Agl/Turn

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Ceiling

T-34

540

135 (95)

NA  34  6/3  60/30

450

74

6465

T-34A/B

556

139 (50)

NA  35  6/3  60/30

450

74

6465

T-34C

792

198 (50)

NA  50  6/3  60/30

450

139

9145

 

Vehicle

Combat Equipment

Minimum Landing/Takeoff Zone

RF

Armament

Ammo

(All)

None

600/500m Primitive Runway

None

4 hardpoints

None