Military History | How To Make War | Wars Around the World Rules of Use How to Behave on an Internet Forum
Air Transportation Discussion Board
   Return to Topic Page
Subject: The kink in the 20th century war machine: air transportation
HYPOCENTER    10/7/2006 1:16:26 PM
The capability of how much weight an air transport can carry directly effects designes of all military equipment, from tanks to hummers. It's a trickle down effect. They can't be too heavy or else the transports, well, transport less... which translates into slower reaction time and higher costs. I know new tank and stryker-like vehicle designes were either turned down or made less effective due to strict weight limits. So I ask this question: What is the problem? What is it exactly about air transports, that technology doesn't seem to be helping? What is currently the problem and what will have to be the next technological breakthrough before we can see weight limits dramatically improved? Is it the structural integrity of the aricraft which is the problem or is it that there are no engines available to provide enough thrust -- and that the solution is a breakthrough new engine design?
 
Quote    Reply

Show Only Poster Name and Title     Newest to Oldest
B.Smitty       10/7/2006 5:21:27 PM
Aircraft design, development and production is EXPENSIVE and takes a long time.  Replacing the 500 odd C-130s in USAF and Reserves would be a huge undertaking.

The USAF already has two airlifters that can carry any armored vehicle in service - the C-17 and the C-5.  C-17s carried a handful of 70-ton M-1s into northern Iraq during OIF.

IMHO, it's not necessarily the aircraft that's the biggest problem.  It's the nature of likely forward airfields that's the biggest constraint.  These fields have weight and Maximum On Ground (MOG) limits that severly hinder throughput (not to mention being able to push enough fuel to them). 

Frankly, I think the C-130 compatibility is a nice to have, but we're never going to be moving and supporting large numbers of armored vehicles by air, period.  It's more of a niche capability.

 
Quote    Reply

HYPOCENTER       10/7/2006 6:24:11 PM
Well then how else did we get the bulk of our foces over seas in such a short time? Was it mostly by sea, not air?
 
Quote    Reply

doggtag    This was a good solution, but nooooo...   10/7/2006 6:32:15 PM
...we just had to stay with the C-130 (which, back in the day, could haul the Sheridan).
Here was the soltion we could-ve had.
 
 
pics, via TheAviationZone
 
YC-15, via Wikipedia
The one good thing that we got from the YC-15 was that it paved the way for the much larger C-17.
 
YC-14, via Wikipedia
The general layout made production, but in the form of the Antonov An-72/74 "Coaler".
An-72, via Wikipedia
 
Digging into my own library,
the AMST is found in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (Vol 1, pp 102-104).
 
-McDonnell Douglas' YC-15 was powered by four underwing 16,000pounds thrust P&W JT8D turbofans and could reportedly lift 27,000pounds STOL from a 2000ft runway, or 62,000pounds from a regular runway (length not given).
(one picture shows a 27ton early-series M109 being backed into a YC-15.)
 
-Boeing's YC-14 was powered by 2 overwing (upper surface blown) GE F103 (CF6-50)  51,000pounds thrust turbofans and could carry the same 27,000pounds STOL payload, but a whopping 81,000pounds from a regular runway.
 
Looking elsewhere for the An-72/74 Coaler aircraft,
data seems to indicate that the An-72  has roughly 2/3 the wingspan and fuselage length of the YC-14, and its payload suffers accordingly: estimates suggest between 5-7.5 metric tonnes, pretty much on par with the C-27 Spartan proposal for the Army's JCA Joint Combat Aircraft program.
C-27J, via AirForce-Technology
 
 
So it certainly seems that airframe capabilities are not the limitation (the C-27 can carry roughly 2/3 the C-130's potential on only two of the same engines...), but rather budgets and policy makers.
And, as my arguments on other threads will suggest, certainly I place part of the blame on defense contractors for not designing in greater capabilities than what the procurement people requested (Ed Heinemann's team did just that when they designed the A-4 Skyhawk, which came in at about half the contract's weigh limit, yet could carry a heavier payload farther than was requested. So I don't see why Lockheed Martin tried to push such a "mediocre-improved" version of the C-130, the J-Herc, on the US DoD).
 
Quote    Reply

Griffin       10/8/2006 12:46:24 AM
If the Airbus A400M gets off the ground and is successful, the days of the C-130 for overseas sales will be numbered.  I'm surprised that LM didn't take this threat more seriously and work on a replacement for the venerable Herc that had better payload ability and other characteristics without losing the shorter takeoff and landing strips that the Galaxy and Globemaster can't use.
 
 Technical Specifications
Dimensions   http://www.airbusmilitary.com/images/a400mcl.jpg" width=190 align=right useMap=#specmap border=0>
  Overall Length 45.1 m
  Wing Span 42.4 m
  Overall Height 14.7 m
   
Cargo Box Dimensions  
  Length (excluding ramp) 17.71 m
  Ramp Length 5.40 m
  Width 4.00 m
  Height 3.85 m
  Height (aft of wing) 4.00 m
   
Weights (2.25g)  
  Max. Take-off Weight 136.5 t
  Max. Landing Weight 120 t
  Max. Payload 37 t
  Total Internal Fuel 47.7 t
   
Performance  
  Cruise Speed Range Mach 0.68 - 0.72
  Max. Operating Speed 300 kt CAS
  Initial Cruise Altitude at MTOW 29 000 ft
  Max. Operating Altitude - Normal ops 37 000 ft
  Max. Operating Altitude - Special ops 40 000 ft
  Rang
 
Quote    Reply

Griffin       10/8/2006 12:47:47 AM
I also should have noted that unlike the Herc, the A400M would not have a problem loading a Stryker MGS onboard, whereas the Herc can't.
 
 
Quote    Reply

B.Smitty       10/8/2006 9:42:16 AM

Well then how else did we get the bulk of our foces over seas in such a short time? Was it mostly by sea, not air?

It has always been by sea.    We also pre-position brigade equipment sets on land and on cargo ships at various points around the world.  This allows us to shorten the sea travel considerably for the heaviest and bulkiest equipment.  That way we only have to fly in the soldiers to man them.

This works well as long as the conflict is fairly near a friendly port.   In Afghanistan, everything is flown in.  This is why you see only HMMWVs, trucks and a handful of USMC LAVs in theater.  And, from what I've seen, the LAVs were flown in via C-17, not C-130 (even though they fit in either).


 
Quote    Reply

Thomas    What's wrong??   10/8/2006 1:37:28 PM
It is not so much what is wrong with the air transport technology, as the concept of soldiers: They want tanks for everything - the bigger the better.
 
Light forces have high OPERATIONAL mobility, i.e. they can get to the scene unopposed quickly; but have next to no TACTICAL mobility.
Heavy are the opposite they are very hard to get to the scene; but when they get there they can move even if shot at.
 
I'm not saying the one is "better" than the other - their missions are to different. The heavies might not arrive before it is all over and the light forces might not arrive in time to dig in.
 
BUT, BUT, but it is not the MOVEMENT of forces that is the real hitch - that could be done at a limited scale - it is not unfeasible to move an armoured brigade. The problem is to keep them supplied, once tanks start driving and shooting they use prodigeous amounts of fuel and ammunition - and that has to be flown in as well! Once they have moved on, the supplies need to be driven up to them, so you have to load trucks and gas for those trucks as well - and mind you - if roads in that areas had been there, you probably wouldn't have flown in heavy equipment in the first place - you would have road transported them!
 
What air transport DOES provide is higher operational mobility to the light forces - and due to vehicles the ability to move into areas previously denied them.
Secondly - what Khe San tought the world - air transport can keep a light division supplied during a vicious defensive battle. Meaning that they can survive being cut of from road transport connection. That is a huge step forward.
 
Consider one thing: EMMA MAERSK carries about 1.000 times more tons with a crew of 13 compared to a C-17. One huge clip of 6" bullets after another!
 
 
 
 
 
Quote    Reply

doggtag       10/8/2006 2:58:47 PM

If the Airbus A400M gets off the ground and is successful, the days of the C-130 for overseas sales will be numbered.  I'm surprised that LM didn't take this threat more seriously and work on a replacement for the venerable Herc that had better payload ability and other characteristics without losing the shorter takeoff and landing strips that the Galaxy and Globemaster can't use.
I also should have noted that unlike the Herc, the A400M would not have a problem loading a Stryker MGS onboard, whereas the Herc can't.

My points exactly!
(nice job posting the tech specs, Griffin. Maybe you can give the rest of us a class..?)
Re the Stryker MGS: it can go into a C-130, just not with 100% fuel and ammo (the most ideal battle condition), nor with additional armor (slat bird cage?), nor be flown any useful tactical distance without inflight refueling.
 
Something I find interesting with the A400M: at a 37 ton (metric tonnes or imperial?) capacity, that put it on par with the 81,000pounds of the YC-14 (40 tons).
And with 4 massive propfans (10,000shp each?), I wonder if the A400M would use more fuel to carry the same payload the same distance as a two-engined (51,000pounds thrust each) YC-14 (with two+ decades of improvements) could've.
 
What air transport DOES provide is higher operational mobility to the light forces - and due to vehicles the ability to move into areas previously denied them.

Secondly - what Khe San tought the world - air transport can keep a light division supplied during a vicious defensive battle. Meaning that they can survive being cut of from road transport connection. That is a huge step forward.

And having an AMST in service instead of C-130s and J-Hercs would've given us the same amount of overall payload weight in less sorties (equating to greater economy of flight operations) than what we have now, or almost twice as much materiel in the same number of flights, yet not requiring as large a support infrastructure as C-17s.
How many payloads that must be flown in by C-17 because C-130s can't, could've been flown in by an AMST (which would've been less expensive were it lost/damaged as compared to a Globemaster)?
 
Now, if we took modern aviation technologies (avionics, powerplants, construction techniques & materials, etc) as has been done in the A400M program, I wonder how improved over the 1970s prototypes a modern AMST would perform...
 
(sigh...I can dream, can't I?)
 
Quote    Reply

flamingknives       10/8/2006 3:39:11 PM
How about a lifting-body airship? Projected capacity of 1000 tonnes* at 100kts - would carry quite a bit of kit and are harder to shoot down than people think.

*Tonnes is implicitly metric. Imperial and US tons lack an 'n' and an 'e'
 
Quote    Reply

flamingknives       10/8/2006 3:41:11 PM
 
Quote    Reply



 Latest
 News
 
 Most
 Read
 
 Most
 Commented
 Hot
 Topics