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Subject: PZL-230 Skorpion
doggtag    7/16/2004 4:47:39 PM
I remember years ago a small article on this aircraft program in a few aviation magazines (?) Does anyone have any additional information on this program? Any details I've found are either sparse or outside of my language abilities. If anyone has anything, please reply (English preferred, but will accept German, French, or Spanish links.) Thanks..
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sentinel28a    RE:PZL-230 Skorpion   7/18/2004 7:31:55 AM
Here is the entry from the Encyclopedia of World Aircraft: "The PZL-230F was designed to meet a Polish requirement for a small, agile battlefield attack aircraft. Development began in 1987, when the aircraft was envisaged as being powered by a pair of turbojets. These were soon replaced by pusher-type Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-67A turboprops, and then replaced again by unspecified turbofans (possibly two 5225 pound static thrust Pratt and Whitney Canada PW305s) mounted further apart. This engine configuration was demonstrated in the full-scale mockup that was rolled out on 23 December 1992. "The mockup differed in many ways from the previous artists' conceptions of the aircraft, with a higher-set pit and canards, and twin inward-canted tailfins in place of the original single fin. The basic philosophy behind the Skorpion was to produce a highly manueverable but relatively slow (350-400 mph) aircraft, capable of evading SAMs and of carrying a 4409 pound warload on its eight underwing pylons. A fixed gun was also envisaged, perhaps a 25mm GAU-12. PZL planned for a first flight in 1996, with deliveries following in 2000. "Development of the Skorpion was terminated in June 1994. A more likely candidate is a single-seat attack version of the I-22 Iyrda, but in September 1993 PZL unveiled a second contender in the form of the PZL Kobra, powered by a pair of thrust-vectoring Polish D-18 turbofans." Hope this helps a little. It sounds a little like DASA's Mako project.
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doggtag    RE:PZL-230 Skorpion   7/18/2004 1:19:02 PM
Thanks much, Sentinel. I have a book called "Future Fighters and Combat Aircraft" (by Bill Gunston, ISBN 0-668-06065-4), which shows the mentality of aerospace designers in the 70s and 80s (copyright late 80s-something). There are scores of interesting aircraft suggestions and prototypes, many of which would have proven themselves ideal now 20 years later. Programs like the PZL-230, BAe's SABA, and Burt Rutan's ARES aren't here, but they had their merits also. I have yet to find a decent prototypes book covering sufficiently all the projects we know of know (having a publication timeframe of 2000-2003). If anyone knows of suck books, PLEASE share with us the names and numbers (especially ISBN) of the books. I still believe that many of the most promising platforms never made production. One described in this book was the BAe P.1214-3 STOVL: which, with its unique planform and forward swept wing, was suggested could have been the most maneuverable aircraft ever built. The biggest problem it seems it would've had would be the installation of expendable stores, due to its "three-poster" vectoring nozzles (as opposed to the Harrier's "four poster" arrangement). Also, there was the ALR Piranha: a very lightweight fighter even a bit smaller yet than the Gripen, but sporting an RB-199 and a 2000kg warload. Could have become the next Skyhawk, with its small size and vesatility (albeit a smaller combat load). There are scores of US programs and suggestions too numerous to list here, but touched base on technologies like mission-adaptive wings, upper-surface blowing, several forward swept wing designs (one which was for a time suggested for the F-16), and several SR-71-speed-class fighters and strike platforms. Many of these may yet have reached prototype status ("Black" projects and could be the reason behind unknown objects around Area 51 and a few other places the US denies exist.) I do not believe we will ever see a true end to manned combat aircraft. They may be supplemented by UCAVs, but until we have exhausted just what these aviation technologies can achieve in an airframe but keeping inside a pilot's tolerance levels; the designs we have still yet to create are limitless. Considering how our advancements have progressed in just barely 100 years of powered flight, I think there are yet still so many options we haven't even considered. Until we abandon conventional thinking for aircraft design, we are only limiting ourselves to what we could really build. We need more fresh blood in the design phases, people who have grown up watching things like Star Wars and anime. These people will certainly design systems that make our mighty F-22, 40 or 50 years from now, look like the still-credible F-4 Phantom does today. Perhaps we will one day see a modular type fighter/strike jet concept, that may borrow considerably from these above-mentioned programs..
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sentinel28a    RE:PZL-230 Skorpion   7/21/2004 7:43:53 AM
Well, look at the Boeing Bird of Prey. Now that's a departure from the same old same old. 20 years ago the F-22 would have been considered science fiction. I have the same book, BTW. It's good, once you overlook Bill Gunston's built in bias--i.e. "Everything that is not British/European in origin and looks like a Harrier is bad." I also found his idea of deleting the canopy in favor of computer generated displays to be pretty laughable. No pilot is going to put his eyesight at the mercy of a computer. Of course, we didn't hear too much from Bill after Desert Storm (where the USAF invalidated his theory that low level was the only way to survive a modern air defense) and the cancellation of the Nimrod AEW.1 (which he claimed was far superior to the E-3--it wasn't).
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doggtag    RE:PZL-230 Skorpion   7/21/2004 10:09:56 PM
I agree that Gunston definitely played his favorites, but many of the "what if" concepts from several nations could have been very formidable aircraft... even those non-Harrier European types. I'm willing to bet that ALR Piranha may well have limited the Gripen to Sweden only. It definitely would have been a serious contender for nations with aging A-4s and F-5s (of course, I still would have preferred the F-20 Tigershark, just for its reliabilty and ease of maintenance and operations. Supposedly, just a few pickup trucks could carry all the necessary support equipment needed for a couple of F-20s, minus fuel and ordnance, for a several-days' duration. I have quite a few books and articles on the 'shark.) I would love to get a newer version of that book, even if Gunston writes it and plays his favorites... just to see some of the current thoughts and programs, and see which ones actually come to fruition in the next 20 years. And its nice to see the "little guy" groups showing off their prowess with another PZL-230 comparible system from time to time..
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