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5 strange tests of operating aircraft on US aircraft carriers

In fact, the US has tried to put various kinds of plane Combat has been developed over the past 50 years performing carrier-based missions. Among these are many exotic aircraft that have taken off and landed on the decks of American aircraft carriers, including the legendary U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane, even the C-130 multirole transport plane. Hercules is extremely large.

Transport aircraft C-130 Hercules

Although modern Nimitz and Ford-class carriers do not require refueling when deployed at sea for extended periods of time, they still require different types of supplies from land-based logistics facilities, including Supplies needed to support more than 3,000 troops and spare parts for aircraft operating on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.

As a result, the U.S. Navy has sought to bring larger shipments to an aircraft carrier at sea without having to build an expensive aircraft specifically for the job. After a long time of consideration, they finally came up with a solution to use the C-130 Hercules 4-engine turboprop transport on the aircraft carrier.

In November 1963, pilot James Flatley III successfully performed the landing and takeoff test of the C-130 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal with high precision. First, just let the plane touch the deck of the carrier, then turn on the booster and continue to fly to where it can land.

Although the test was successful, but after evaluation, military officials said that the idea was not safe, containing too many risks for resupply operations for the aircraft carrier.

U-2 . spy plane

Two months before the C-130 made history, Lockheed Martin test pilot Bob Schumacher made his name in military aviation history by landing a U-2 spy plane on an aircraft carrier. fly.

On March 2, 1963, pilot Bob Schumacher departed from a land-based runway for a landing mission aboard the USS Ranger, a Forestall-class supercarrier deployed off the coast of California.

Schumacher performed a series of “touch-and-go landing” operations, where the plane landed precisely on the Ranger’s runway, then accelerated to continue ascending rather than landing completely. When he realized that the conditions were right for the plane to land, he decided to land the plane on the aircraft carrier.

But during landing, the plane’s tail hook caught on the ship’s brake cable, causing the nose of the plane to crash into the deck and break. The problem with the plane was fixed within a few days.

Vought 1600

The F-16 Fighting Falcon – an important fighter jet of the US Air Force for more than 40 years, was also said to be capable of operating on an aircraft carrier.

To meet the requirements of the US Navy, the developers changed the necessary structures to turn the F-16 into the Vought 1600. Compared to the F-16A, the Vought 1600 is a larger version, with a wingspan of more than 10m, slightly longer than the combat version of the air force.

The fuselage was made flatter and wider, and the canopy over the cockpit was designed to rotate forward. Although this design is different from the F-16, it is somewhat similar to the F-35 fighter. To be able to perform a carrier landing, the Vought 1600 was fitted with a rather heavy landing gear in the abdomen and added a landing tail hook.

The fuselage is also designed with stiffer materials to operate in the range of engagement the navy needs. In addition, it is also equipped with pulsed Doppler radar to detect targets that are out of sight of the aircraft.

“Sea Eagle” F-15N

In the 1970s, the US Navy considered scrapping the F-14 Tomcat and replacing it with an F-15 fighter to operate on an aircraft carrier. To make the F-15 suitable for the aircraft carrier, the McDonnel Douglas corporation decided to modify this fighter.

The F-15A already has a tail hook, designed for use on short runways or in emergencies, but to make it possible to land on an aircraft carrier, the manufacturer installed a larger tail hook. .

In addition, the main wing of this fighter is designed to fold at a 90-degree angle at the wing tip, helping to reduce the length of each wing by more than 4.5m when the aircraft is parked. The landing gear is also reinforced to help stabilize the aircraft when landing on a moving carrier.

After making the necessary changes, the weight of the F-15 increased by about 13.6kg. This combined with better maneuverability and faster top speed makes the new version of the Sea Eagle the ideal carrier fighter.

However, there are still some limitations, such as the F-15N’s inability to carry America’s largest and newest air-to-air missile – the AIM-54 Pheonix on an aircraft carrier.

fighter jet NATF-22

The US Air Force’s F-22 Raptor is considered the best air superiority fighter in the world. As a 5th generation stealth aircraft, the F-22 is packed with some amazing technology in a highly maneuverable supersonic platform.

With outstanding advantages, there was a stage where the F-22 Raptor was considered to be converted into a version used exclusively for the Navy, with the name NATF-22.

The Navy’s Advanced Tactical Aircraft (NATF) program began in 1988. However, when the US Navy chose to look for a variant of the F-22 capable of operating on aircraft carriers , they will have to overcome many major technical hurdles, because aircraft designed for carrier operations must handle the challenges associated with take-off and landing that are far different from those on land. immediately.

The fuselage needed to be more rigidly constructed to withstand the high pressures of launching with a short launch and landing system supported by a tail hook at the rear of the aircraft.

In addition, the NATF-22 will also have to take advantage of the variable swept wing design (spanning wing style) similar to the F-14, giving the aircraft the ability to fly slowly to safely land on an aircraft carrier. This design is useful for aircraft that are expected to operate at both low and high speeds but will reduce the aircraft’s stealth capabilities.

The F-22 has the advantage of mobility, but the US Navy’s existing F-14 Tomcats are still faster. Finally, despite the high maintenance costs, the cost of an F-14 is still significantly cheaper than building a new stealth fighter for the Navy’s aircraft carrier, even if it relies heavily on the Air Force’s aircraft development program.

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