By lex, on December 2nd, 2010
The US military, at least since World War II, has preferred generally to throw money at combat superiority – especially air superiority – rather than bodies. Certain of our Cold War adversaries used a decidedly lower tech/people heavy approach: “Quantity,” Uncle Joe Stalin mused, “has a quality all its own.”
The Heritage Foundation’s Mackenzie Eaglen and Dr. Lajos Szazdi – try saying that one three times fast – have an interesting article analyzing the implications of losing both qualitative and quantitative advantage in any future air campaign.
By lex, on October 9th, 2009
Occn’l Reader Peter finds a lovely photo of the Super Sh!t Hot, World Famous Golden Dragon CAG jet departing off Cat 3 (click on the pic for higher).
One of the first aircraft systems lectures I gave as a junior officer was on the FA-18 landing gear. The trailing axle lever arm assembly that you see fully extended on the port main landing gear and partly extended on the starboard is actually quite an elegant (albeit complicated) design that allows for compact stowage at low relative weight compared to older carrier designs.
Carrier landings impose tremendous stresses on aircraft landing gear, which is why tactical naval aircraft tend to have such robust landing assemblies compared to their USAF counterparts. The FA-18 axle lever arm allows for a rolling transfer of landing and take-off loads, and requires a somewhat articulated series of trailing and planing links to ensure that the gear extend and lock down properly.
The axle lever arm and planing link (in particular) were initially “under-engineered”, however. The first is milled from a solid block of titanium, and is on its third generation, having demonstrated an unfortunate tendency prior to redesign to shear after a few hundred arrested landings, while a planing link failure (which prevents the main landing tire from aligning with the aircraft’s longitudinal axis) resulted in one of the first Hornet fatalities.
Thanks for the pic, Pete!
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By lex, on April 11th, 2007
The four-ship typically comes in level at release altitude. For a 45 degree dive bombing pattern that’d be around 5000′ above ground level (AGL). Aligned with the attack heading, the lead will push it up to the planned release airspeed – typically around 450 knots calibrated airspeed – and the savvier wingmen will ensure that their jets are trimmed out in yaw as they attain release speed: Even modern jets get “bent,” and what is trimmed for level flight at 300 knots won’t always work at 450, while uncorrected yaw is a source of bombing inaccuracy. Once over the target, dash one will call, “Lead’s breaking,” on the aux radio, followed by his wingmen every four seconds or so thereafter, 2, 3, 4.
By lex, on October 14th, 2006
The first day of our assessment yesterday and there wasn’t much for your humble scribe to do, straightaway, the experts had fanned out, and were doing that expert thing. I was left to my own devices.
I went up to the flag bridge, one level below the pilot house to get a workout in. As a space whose tactical importance is much diminished by the video-screen nature of modern naval combat, it functions now as a cardio gym for senior officers. It’s on the O-9 level, or 10 steep-pitched ladders up from where I have parked my slops, so it would be something of a workout just getting there, except that the ship’s XO has been so kind as to lend me a key to the captain’s elevator. We are feeling rather chuffed at our importance, these days.
By lex, on June 7th, 2006
Long, repetitive and boring, but the work’s done and maybe one reader may enjoy it.
Now give me my “A.”
Abstract: Over the course of the first decade of its lifecycle, the FA-18 Hornet aircraft evolved from a troubled acquisition program designed to fulfill a limited, albeit crucial role on a few aircraft carrier decks into the most successful aircraft program in US Navy history. It did so not by exceeding expectations in any one area, but by being “good enough” in every area, by using modularity in design and by answering cultural and political issues effectively.