WI: SHAR's used 'buddy refueling' in Falklands War?

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In the 1982 Falklands War the RN originally set out with only 20 SHAR's but was boosted with further numbers later on.

What if the RN (if the SHAR's were fitted with the equipment) used four SHAR's (two per carrier) as 'buddy refuellers to extend the range and loiter capability of the air defense force?

Would it work?
Would it help over the San Carlos Landings?
Could this capability allow SHAR's to intercept FAA aircraft off the Argentine coast?

PS: Would converting four SeaKing helicopters do the trick instead?

Much obliged!
 
I'm a bit out of touch on this one, but the usual rule of thumb for buddy refueling used to be that if you used 50% of your aircraft as tankers for a strike, the range of the rest increased by 50%. Assuming the buddy-refueling kits existed for the SHARs, there's no reason it shouldn't have worked. However, although it might have helped over the San Carlos landings, it wouldn't be likely to allow interceptions that much further away. The SHAR wasn't a particularly long-legged beast, nor did it have an air search radar AFAIK, so it would still be making interceptions relatively close to the islands.

Another question to consider, however, is the rate of stores and fuel use on the RN carriers. How many more days of sorties could they have sustained?
 
1 Chinook with 3 extended range tanks (BOB Tanks) 10,200 kg of Fuel just require a HDU (Hose Drum Unit) fitting on the ramp like a Hercules tanker.
2 Chinooks is the answer, what is the question?
 
Buddy refuelling packs were used by RN Scimitars and Buccaneers, possibly Sea Vixens too, so they'd probably fit a SHar also.
The trouble is there were so few SHARs that they'd be hard pushed to have enough aircraft available at any one time maintain a cap, tank a strike and carry out the strike as well as perform normal maintenance.
 

Garrison

Donor
In the 1982 Falklands War the RN originally set out with only 20 SHAR's but was boosted with further numbers later on.

What if the RN (if the SHAR's were fitted with the equipment) used four SHAR's (two per carrier) as 'buddy refuellers to extend the range and loiter capability of the air defense force?

Would it work?
Would it help over the San Carlos Landings?
Could this capability allow SHAR's to intercept FAA aircraft off the Argentine coast?

PS: Would converting four SeaKing helicopters do the trick instead?

Much obliged!
Is a SHAR supposed to be a Sea Harrier because I can't find a military reference to SHAR in Google.
 

Ramontxo

Donor
I suppose you could use the RAF version for that, but the provisional landing place in San Carlos went a long way to solve the CAP time problems
 
How much extra fuel can a Harrier carry? AFAIK, they can't carry large payloads, so is it worth it? Or is it better to use the refueling aircraft for additional air combat patrols?
 
The Sea Harrier is not a good buddy tanker because it carries so little fuel, meaning it has very little to offload. For comparison the Sea harrier in 1982 had 757 US Gal of internal fuel and a pair of 120 US gal drop tanks, the Skyhawk had 810 US gal internally and at least 2 x 340 US Gal drop tanks. The RAF Harriers had access to a pair of 396 US gal ferry tanks, and used them for the ferry flight to Ascension but I don't know if the Shars were cleared to use them and SHars did not do long ferry flight in the Falklands.

The OTL quick fix to the SHars endurance problems proved to be 190gal drop tanks, which added 20 minutes over the 75 minute flight time. These tanks were Hunter 220gal tanks with a section removed to reduce the fuel sloshing fore and aft which caused centre of gravity problems for the highly CoG sensitive SHar. My guess is that it would have taken about as much time to fit, trial and prove a 330gal ferry tank and HDU as it did the OTL 190gal drop tanks, but the 330gal tank would likely have been difficult to fly with considering the Harriers requirement for a stable CoG in the hover when there's a big tank on one side with fuel sloshing back and forth.
 
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If they want to keep the larger tanks without the problems of sloshing, would fitting baffles inside the tanks be an option? I think that's what they did with the Green Goddess fire engines when they found the problem of them flipping themselves onto their sides when they cornered too quickly with part-full water tanks.
 
If they want to keep the larger tanks without the problems of sloshing, would fitting baffles inside the tanks be an option? I think that's what they did with the Green Goddess fire engines when they found the problem of them flipping themselves onto their sides when they cornered too quickly with part-full water tanks.

Baffles are pretty much standard in drop ranks, the F111 tanks had 3 sections for example. The issue is that the Harrier is especially sensitive to the CoG, more than conventional aircraft, because of the hover. This is such an issue that the SHar couldn't use the 220gal tanks from the Hunter, a section had to be cut out reducing the tank to 190gal.

My guess is that when GR3s used the big ferry tanks there would be serious limits on the flight regime to avoid CoG problems.
 
This use of Buddy tanks would be of limited use and given the small number of aircraft available I think it would be counter productive

The biggest limitation of the Harrier IMO was its weapon loadout

Effectively just 2 missiles

So a pair of Harriers on CAP could engage realistically 4 targets likely 2 and while it had a pair of ADEN 30mm cannon each of those was about 200 Kilos fully loaded which is over twice the weight of a sidewinder

Argentine attacks came in waves of 4 or 8 aircraft - limited as they were by the 2 available KC130s each able to refuel 2 aircraft at once - so even a 100% hit rate allows aircraft to get past and once each aircraft has fired twice it has to return to the carrier and be replaced.

So a better 'change' would be a Sea Harrier carrying 4 or even 6 Sidewinders (even at the expense of the ADENs) through use of twin launchers (introduced just after the conflict) and if possible launchers on the underside of the fuselage.
 
This use of Buddy tanks would be of limited use and given the small number of aircraft available I think it would be counter productive

The biggest limitation of the Harrier IMO was its weapon loadout

Effectively just 2 missiles

So a pair of Harriers on CAP could engage realistically 4 targets likely 2 and while it had a pair of ADEN 30mm cannon each of those was about 200 Kilos fully loaded which is over twice the weight of a sidewinder

Argentine attacks came in waves of 4 or 8 aircraft - limited as they were by the 2 available KC130s each able to refuel 2 aircraft at once - so even a 100% hit rate allows aircraft to get past and once each aircraft has fired twice it has to return to the carrier and be replaced.

So a better 'change' would be a Sea Harrier carrying 4 or even 6 Sidewinders (even at the expense of the ADENs) through use of twin launchers (introduced just after the conflict) and if possible launchers on the underside of the fuselage.

Even with extra fuel the 190gal tanks would give the SHars lacked the combat persistence to make more than 2 shots in an engagement, so I'd say any more than 4 sidewinders would be a waste. That way it would have a chance to fire 2 missiles at 2 different aircraft before they were unable to continue the chase, which they weren't great at due to their subsonic speed. I think the late 1982 loadout of 4 sidewinders and 190gal tanks would have allowed the SHar force to rack up its 23 kills earlier in the conflict which would have an impact later on, possibly avoiding things like the attack on HMS Plymouth and the attacks at Bluff Cove.

I know they made good use of their guns during the conflict, Sharkey Ward finished off his C130 kill with guns, at least one coastal freighter was damaged and beached due to strafing and the Port Stanley Airfield and other targets were regularly beat up with the guns. Looking at the big picture I don't think losing the guns for sidewinders would provide much benefit, particularly if it changed the sidewinder load from 4 to 6.
 
Baffles are pretty much standard in drop ranks, the F111 tanks had 3 sections for example. The issue is that the Harrier is especially sensitive to the CoG, more than conventional aircraft, because of the hover. This is such an issue that the SHar couldn't use the 220gal tanks from the Hunter, a section had to be cut out reducing the tank to 190gal.

My guess is that when GR3s used the big ferry tanks there would be serious limits on the flight regime to avoid CoG problems.
Maybe buddy refueling might have been helpful if the RN / RAF tried to fly a few special long range missions. If the issue vis a vis CoG and tank capacity was due to hovering maybe the tanks could have been jettisoned prior to landing ? This probably would not have been viable for day to day use but perhaps they could have enabled a few long range missions (I'm not sure what those missions might have been :) )
 
Maybe buddy refueling might have been helpful if the RN / RAF tried to fly a few special long range missions. If the issue vis a vis CoG and tank capacity was due to hovering maybe the tanks could have been jettisoned prior to landing ? This probably would not have been viable for day to day use but perhaps they could have enabled a few long range missions (I'm not sure what those missions might have been :) )

Perhaps, but the issue isn't the inherent suitability of the plane and equipment, it's the time and resources it would take to trial the setup. For example it took more than 10 weeks to identify the need and develop the solutions for combat persistence in the shape of twin sidewinder rails and bigger drop tanks. Shorter timeframes were required to fit Laser Guided Bombs, Shrikes and Blue Eric ECM pods to GR3s, but these still only appeared in the last week of the war. The Wild Weasel Black Buck missions are similar, taking almost 2 months to get Shrikes operational on Vulcans.

I think it would likely take as long or longer than any of those projects to sort out the buddy capability, although perhaps the process could be shortcut by using GR3s which were already cleared for the big ferry drop tanks. However this means the first time a buddy mission could occur was about 21 May.
 
Couldn't we amend this slightly, so that Gannetts are embarked and they would be the refuelling platform?

IIRC they could take off from Hermes deck without a Cat launch & could also extend the fleets AEW coverage if an AEW platforms are included. A few PODS to necessitate that outcome.
 
Couldn't we amend this slightly, so that Gannetts are embarked and they would be the refuelling platform?

IIRC they could take off from Hermes deck without a Cat launch & could also extend the fleets AEW coverage if an AEW platforms are included. A few PODS to necessitate that outcome.

Gannets are super slow and I doubt they had enough load carrying capacity to offload much fuel. When the Ark was still in commission the FAA shipped a pair of Buccaneers fitted as maxi tankers to undertake the in-flight refuelling task.
 
Even with extra fuel the 190gal tanks would give the SHars lacked the combat persistence to make more than 2 shots in an engagement, so I'd say any more than 4 sidewinders would be a waste. That way it would have a chance to fire 2 missiles at 2 different aircraft before they were unable to continue the chase, which they weren't great at due to their subsonic speed. I think the late 1982 loadout of 4 sidewinders and 190gal tanks would have allowed the SHar force to rack up its 23 kills earlier in the conflict which would have an impact later on, possibly avoiding things like the attack on HMS Plymouth and the attacks at Bluff Cove.

I know they made good use of their guns during the conflict, Sharkey Ward finished off his C130 kill with guns, at least one coastal freighter was damaged and beached due to strafing and the Port Stanley Airfield and other targets were regularly beat up with the guns. Looking at the big picture I don't think losing the guns for sidewinders would provide much benefit, particularly if it changed the sidewinder load from 4 to 6.
Having extra missiles would allow them the opportunity to stay on station after an engagement.

Iirc AIM9 had a very good hit rate In that war but even so only 2 weapons per aircraft means that a pair can only engage a max of 4 targets likely a single wave or part of a single wave with limited options to take follow on shots of the first fails and then return to the carrier.
 
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