WI: STOL light fighter instead of Harrier?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Jukra, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    WI: Instead of VTOL fighters just STOL light fighters are developed? From layman's point of view it would seem easier to develop a light STOL fighter than a full-blown VTOL plane with more complex thrust vectoring techology? Of course it would not have full flexibility of a Harrier but then again, say, 500 meters long straight pieces of road would seem to be quite ample even in Central Europe. Going for 80 per cent solution rather than 100 per cent solution, as to say. As for benefits, the aeronautical performance would probably be much better and maintenance requirements much lower.

    As for naval use, looking at INS Vikramaditya, the converted ex-Soviet Gorshkov, it seems that MiG-29K, a full blown fighter, requires roughly 200 meters take-off run with ski jump, and 200 meters landing length.

    Could one arrange similar sized deck for USN amphibious assault ships? For Iwo Jima, not of course, but Tarawa-class, if designed from the start to support ski-jump operations, would seem roughly suitable from layman's point of view.

    Ski-jump, of course, limits the deck space available. On the other hand, it lessens the development costs as specific V/STOL fighters are not required.

    As for historical reference, although it might be called a medium fighter in timeframe, one might cite Saab 37 Viggen with it's STOL performance.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
  2. Riain Well-Known Member

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    I think in the 60s a fighter would have to sacrifice outright performance to get STOL capability, leaving it vulnerable in the air despite being less vulnerable on the ground.
     
  3. Zen9 Well-Known Member

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    Strictly NATO came to the 500m conclusion during the 70's. After analysis of various conflicts and the study of the effectiveness of runway denial and destruction.

    Had something like that been possible in the late 50's, it would shift the requirements.

    It doesn't change as much as one might hope. Since safe and 'comfortable' (not having your back done in or your retina detached by the vibrations) low level flight, requires a high wing loading and that in turn makes a normal take off a over a long distance.

    So you end up with the same solutions.
    Lift jets.
    Vectored thrust with a too large engine.
    Blow
    VG
    Tail sitting and a too large engine.
    And various ejector schemes that ultimately don't work.

    Although. .....even as early as '56 there was a FBW RSS type study by AWA......
     
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  4. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Viggen first flew in 1967, I think if more effort was put into it than Swedes were able to do one might be able to reach it sooner, and it was quite capable in air-to-air.

    But most importantly, we must compare the hypothetical STOL fighter to Harrier, not to top of the line performers. A STOL bird would be able to outperform Harrier in all respects, except of course the not really useful viffing.
     
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  5. Riain Well-Known Member

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    The harrier was a niche aircraft that didn't sell well to 'regular' air forces. For countries that can only afford 1 or 2 types they can't really afford a plane that sacrifices performance in the air for performance on the ground.
     
  6. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

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    Short take off you say?
     
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  7. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Yes, though the only way to reach short landing with F-104 is this:

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    A STOL fighter, being cheaper and most probably with far better performance than Harrier might just find a larger market share than Harrier & Sea Harrier did historically, though. At least it might replace SEPECAT Jaquar, Super Etendard et. al.

    Without Harrier, there probably would not be F-35B either. The interesting question is, would UK and Italy construct a STOBAR carrier? How about India and HMS Hermes? Spain and Thailand would be question marks, although it might be much better option for them not to construct a carrier at all...
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
  9. Glyndwr01 Well-Known Member

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    ? no Harriers lost in Falklands to enemy aircraft!
     
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  10. AlanJWhite extensive reader, odd poster and tyro author

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    AIUI Viggen was introduced in 1971 as an attack plane with some self-defence capability
    and 1978 (or later) as a dedicated Interceptor Fighter.

    Both were intended to operate from the many dispersed airfields Swede planned & built
    but also from the kortbanor (short strips) built as a backup at these sites.

    These were only 500mx17m (including using adapted stretches of nearby road)
    but even this is much larger than any CV.

    Operating such aircraft on a large scale in Germany might obviate the utility of the Harrier
    but won't replace the Sea Harrier without CATOBAR

    In general, history has shown that aircraft designed for carrier ops can be adapted into capable land aircraft
    but NOT the other way around :cryingface:

    In any case, modifying the Viggen will make it less capable so it's a "catch -22"
     
  11. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Well, Harrier seems to differ ;)

    I'm not proposing a Viggen as Harrier replacement, but just as an example that a STOL combat aircraft could have been done with 60's technology. Like I wrote, India operates MiG-29K from ex-Gorshov using roughly 200m's for launch and recovery...
     
  12. tomo pauk Well-Known Member

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  13. Riain Well-Known Member

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    No, but a lot of ships they were defending were sunk and many others hit.
     
  14. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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  15. longsword14 Communism: This time, we will get it right!

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    And if British Harriers had been replaced by USN aircraft, would the result have been worse ?
    Harriers weren't really wanted, but it was either that or nothing.
     
  16. tomo pauk Well-Known Member

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    Yes, sensible choice. Perhaps powered by afterburning Adour as used on the Jaguar?
    BTW - Adour was introduced later than Harrier. A combo between Hawk and non-afterburning Spey? A-4 with Spey?
     
  17. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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  18. unclepatrick Well-Known Member

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    The Old Joke "What is the easiest way to get a F104? Buy a piece of Farmland around a German Airforce Base and wait for one to crash."
     
  19. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    That can be blamed on there being no A.E.W. aircraft in the task force and a lack of numbers.
     
  20. Glyndwr01 Well-Known Member

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    Exactly they had to do ground attack and fighter cover!