The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Another Segment of equipment from "Red Storm Rising"

This is a continuation of my "Red Storm Rising" articles that I am doing., the next piece of equipment was the "F-19 "Ghostrider" or the "Frisbee".  I thought that Tom Clancy talked about a stealth fighter/bomber before the unveil of the F117 Night Hawk of Desert Storm fame.  In the book, the "frisbee's performed the first mission by NATO doing a preemptive strike against the Soviet Mainstays that were flying over East Germany monitering the NATO forces.  The Frisbee's came in low through the ground clutter and came under the Mainstays and shot them down opening up the night sky for NATO's fighter bombers that immediately went in and decimated bridged, supply dumps and Command and control centers guaranteeing that the 2nd echelon of the Soviet forces were not able to support the first echelons that were starting to engage the NATO forces.  This gave NATO control over the night sky for the duration of the conflict.

In his 1986 novel Red Storm Rising, Tom Clancy featured the "F-19A Ghostrider" (nicknamed "Frisbee" by the pilots and crew) as a secret weapon used to combat a Soviet invasion of Germany. This vehicle was considerably more capable than the F-117, being a supersonic fighter rather than a subsonic precision bomber. The F-19A as described in the book featured underwing hardpoints for various ordnance, including air-to-air missiles and BLU-107 Durandal runway-cratering bombs. The aircraft also has circular wings instead of angular ones, hence the nickname

Since the unification of the numbering system in 1962, U.S. fighters have been designated by consecutive numbers, beginning with the F-1 Fury. F-13 was never assigned to a fighter due to superstition, though the designation had previously been used for a reconnaissance version of the B-29. After the F/A-18 Hornet, the next announced aircraft was the F-20 Tigershark. The USAF proposed the F-19 designation for the fighter, but Northrop requested the "F-20" instead. The USAF finally approved the F-20 designation in 1982.The truth behind this jump in numbers is Northrop pressed the designation "F-20" as they wanted an even number, in order to stand out from the Soviet odd numbered designations. Despite this, the designations F-17, F-21, and F-23 were not skipped.
Throughout most of the 1980s, "F-19" was thought to be the designation of the stealth fighter whose development was an open secret in the aerospace community. When the actual aircraft was publicly revealed in November 1988, its designation was revealed to be F-117.

Another rumor was that F-19 is really the designation of some other super-secret project, one so black that it will not be revealed for many years.
One more version was part of a deliberate plot by the Air Force to confuse Soviet intelligence by hoodwinking them into expending so much effort in trying to find out information about a plane that does not exist.

   Now I will talk about one of my favorite airplanes, the A-10, we Army guys love the A-10, I have seen what the airplane has done to soviet equipment, it is literally hell on enemy Armor.  In the book, the A-10 was used to savage the Soviet Armor formations, the FAC would ask NATO armor to go after the mobile SAM systems like the ZSU-23-4  or the SA-6 missile system for they have the ability to shoot down the A-10 as they would make runs on the Soviet Armor.  According to the book, the Soviets called the A-10 the "flying cross" because the shape reminded them of the Orthodox cross that is prevalent in soviet churches. 

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is a single-seat, twin turbofan engine, straight wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic for the United States Air Force (USAF). Commonly referred to by its nicknames Warthog or Hog, its official name comes from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, a World War II fighter that was effective at attacking ground targets. The A-10 was designed for close air support (CAS) of friendly ground troops, engaging armored vehicles and tanks, and providing quick-action support against enemy ground forces. It entered service in 1976 and is the only production-built aircraft that has served in the USAF that was designed solely for CAS. Its secondary mission is to provide forward air controller – airborne (FAC-A) support, by directing other aircraft in attacks on ground targets. Aircraft used primarily in this role are designated OA-10.

The A-10 was intended to improve on the performance of the A-1 Skyraider and its poor firepower. The A-10 was designed around the 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon. Its airframe was designed for durability, with measures such as 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of titanium armor to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems, enabling it to absorb a significant amount of damage and continue flying. Its short takeoff and landing capability permits operation from airstrips close to the front lines, and its simple design enables maintenance with minimal facilities. The A-10 served in the Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), the American intervention against Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, where the A-10 distinguished itself. The A-10 also participated in other conflicts such as Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and against ISIL in the Middle East.

The A-10A single-seat variant was the only version produced, though one pre-production airframe was modified into the YA-10B twin-seat prototype to test an all-weather night capable version. In 2005, a program was started to upgrade remaining A-10A aircraft to the A-10C configuration with modern avionics for use of precision weaponry. The U.S. Air Force had stated the F-35 would replace the A-10 as it entered service, but this remains highly contentious within the Air Force and in political circles. With a variety of upgrades and wing replacements, the A-10's service life may be extended to 2040, although plans call for it to be retired starting in 2022 after being replaced.

The A-10 has a cantilever low-wing monoplane wing with a wide chord. The aircraft has superior maneuverability at low speeds and altitude because of its large wing area, high wing aspect ratio, and large ailerons. The wing also allows short takeoffs and landings, permitting operations from primitive forward airfields near front lines. The aircraft can loiter for extended periods and operate under 1,000 ft (300 m) ceilings with 1.5 mi (2.4 km) visibility. It typically flies at a relatively low speed of 300 knots (350 mph; 560 km/h), which makes it a better platform for the ground-attack role than fast fighter-bombers, which often have difficulty targeting small, slow-moving targets.
The leading edge of the wing has a honeycomb structure panel construction, providing strength with minimal weight; similar panels cover the flap shrouds, elevators, rudders and sections of the fins. The skin panels are integral with the stringers and are fabricated using computer-controlled machining, reducing production time and cost. Combat experience has shown that this type of panel is more resistant to damage. The skin is not load-bearing, so damaged skin sections can be easily replaced in the field, with makeshift materials if necessary. The ailerons are at the far ends of the wings for greater rolling moment and have two distinguishing features: The ailerons are larger than is typical, almost 50 percent of the wingspan, providing improved control even at slow speeds; the aileron is also split, making it a deceleron.

The A-10 is designed to be refueled, rearmed, and serviced with minimal equipment. Its simple design enables maintenance at forward bases with limited facilities. Also, most repairs can be done in the field. An unusual feature is that many of the aircraft's parts are interchangeable between the left and right sides, including the engines, main landing gear, and vertical stabilizers. The sturdy landing gear, low-pressure tires and large, straight wings allow operation from short rough strips even with a heavy aircraft ordnance load, allowing the aircraft to operate from damaged airbases, flying from taxiways or even straight roadway sections.

 The front landing gear is offset to the aircraft's right to allow placement of the 30 mm cannon with its firing barrel along the centerline of the aircraft. During ground taxi, the offset front landing gear causes the A-10 to have dissimilar turning radii. Turning to the right on the ground takes less distance than turning left. The wheels of the main landing gear partially protrude from their nacelles when retracted, making gear-up belly landings easier to control and less damaging. All landing gears are hinged toward the aircraft's rear; if hydraulic power is lost, a combination of gravity and aerodynamic drag can open and lock the gear in place.

The A-10 is exceptionally tough, being able to survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles up to 23 mm. It has double-redundant hydraulic flight systems, and a mechanical system as a back up if hydraulics are lost. Flight without hydraulic power uses the manual reversion control system; pitch and yaw control engages automatically, roll control is pilot-selected. In manual reversion mode, the A-10 is sufficiently controllable under favorable conditions to return to base, though control forces are greater than normal. The aircraft is designed to fly with one engine, one half of tail, one elevator, and half of a wing missing.

The cockpit and parts of the flight-control system are protected by 1,200 lb (540 kg) of titanium aircraft armor, referred to as a "bathtub". The armor has been tested to withstand strikes from 23 mm cannon fire and some strikes from 57 mm rounds. It is made up of titanium plates with thicknesses from 0.5 to 1.5 inches (13 to 38 mm) determined by a study of likely trajectories and deflection angles. The armor makes up almost 6 percent of the aircraft's empty weight. Any interior surface of the tub directly exposed to the pilot is covered by a multi-layer nylon spall shield to protect against shell fragmentation.  The front windscreen and canopy are resistant to small arms fire.

The A-10 was envisioned to fly from forward air bases and semi-prepared runways with high risk of foreign object damage to the engines. The unusual location of the General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofan engines decreases ingestion risk, and allows the engines to run while the aircraft is serviced and rearmed by ground crews, reducing turn-around time. The wings are also mounted closer to the ground, simplifying servicing and rearming operations. The heavy engines require strong supports, four bolts connect the engine pylons to the airframe. The engines' high 6:1 bypass ratio have a relatively small infrared signature, and their position directs exhaust over the tailplanes further shielding it from detection by infrared homing surface-to-air missiles. The engines and exhausts are angled upward by nine degrees to cancel out the nose-down pitching moment that would otherwise generate from being mounted above the aircraft's center of gravity and avoids the need to trim the control surfaces to prevent pitching.

To reduce the likelihood of damage to the A-10's fuel system, all four fuel tanks are located near the aircraft's center and are separated from the fuselage; projectiles would need to penetrate the aircraft's skin before reaching a tank's outer skin. Compromised fuel transfer lines self-seal; if damage exceeds a tank's self-sealing capabilities, check valves prevent fuel flowing into a compromised tank. Most fuel system components are inside the tanks so that fuel will not be lost due to component failure. The refueling system is also purged after use. Reticulated polyurethane foam lines both the inner and outer sides of the fuel tanks, retaining debris and restricting fuel spillage in the event of damage. The engines are shielded from the rest of the airframe by firewalls and fire extinguishing equipment. In the event of all four main tanks being lost, two self-sealing sump tanks contain fuel for 230 miles (370 km) of flight.

Although the A-10 can carry considerable disposable stores, its primary built-in weapon is the 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger autocannon. One of the most powerful aircraft cannons ever flown, it fires large depleted uranium armor-piercing shells. The GAU-8 is a hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon designed specifically for the anti-tank role with a high rate of fire. The cannon's original design could be switched by the pilot to 2,100 or 4,200 rounds per minute; this was later changed to a fixed rate of 3,900 rounds per minute. The cannon takes about half a second to come up to speed, so 50 rounds are fired during the first second, 65 or 70 rounds per second thereafter. The gun is accurate enough to place 80 percent of its shots within a 40-foot (12.4 m) diameter circle from 4,000 feet (1,220 m) while in flight. The GAU-8 is optimized for a slant range of 4,000 feet (1,220 m) with the A-10 in a 30-degree dive.

The fuselage of the aircraft is built around the cannon. The GAU-8/A is mounted slightly to the port side; the barrel in the firing location is on the starboard side at the 9 o'clock position so it is aligned with the aircraft's centerline. The gun's 5-foot, 11.5-inch (1.816 m) ammunition drum can hold up to 1,350 rounds of 30 mm ammunition, but generally holds 1,174 rounds. To protect the GAU-8/A rounds from enemy fire, armor plates of differing thicknesses between the aircraft skin and the drum are designed to detonate incoming shells. The AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile is a commonly used munition, targeted via electro-optical (TV-guided) or infrared. The Maverick allows target engagement at much greater ranges than the cannon, and thus less risk from anti-aircraft systems. During Desert Storm, in the absence of dedicated forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras for night vision, the Maverick's infrared camera was used for night missions as a "poor man's FLIR". Other weapons include cluster bombs and Hydra rocket pods. The A-10 is equipped to carry laser-guided bombs. A-10s usually fly with an ALQ-131 ECM pod under one wing and two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles under the other wing for self-defense.

Data from The Great Book of Modern Warplanes, Fairchild-Republic A/OA-10, USAF
General characteristics
  • AN/AAS-35(V) Pave Penny laser tracker pod (mounted beneath right side of cockpit) for use with Paveway LGBs (Currently the Pave Penny is no longer in use)
  • Head-up display (HUD) for improved technical flying and air-to-ground support.


  1. I was interested to read that the F-11x series of numbers was used by the USAF as a cover for tests of Soviet aircraft; by the point the F-117 was being developed, the reason for the numbers was well known - so they covered one secret (the stealth fighter) with another (testing Soviet aircraft).

  2. Great birds, and some great stories about them are out there!!!