In addition to the United States, the creation of a specialized "anti-security" attack aircraft began in Argentina. The aircraft, named IA-58 "Pukara", was created according to the concept adopted in OV-10 "Bronco". But it differed from it in the tail unit and more powerful small arms and cannon armament.
This small, sleek straight wing turboprop was the first production combat vehicle designed and built in Argentina. It was produced from 1974 to 1988, during which time about 120 cars were built.
The attack aircraft was created based on the combat experience of using aviation during the battles with guerilleros in the province of Tucuman. The key requirements of the Argentine military for the aircraft were good take-off and landing characteristics (the required runway length is no more than 400 m) and high maneuverability at low altitude, ensuring the attack of small, well-camouflaged targets and evasion of anti-aircraft fire. The aircraft has armor that protects the cockpit from below from 7.62 mm weapon fire at a distance of up to 150 m.
"Pukara" carries powerful built-in small arms and cannon armament, consisting of two 20-mm cannons and four 7.62-mm machine guns. On seven nodes of the external sling, it is possible to place a combat load weighing up to 1500 kg.
Created to fight the guerrillas, the attack aircraft took part in the short-term but fierce Argentine-British conflict over the Falklands. During which these low-speed turboprop vehicles struck the ships of the British fleet and the paratroopers who landed on the islands.
For their intended purpose, the aircraft were used in Colombia and Sri Lanka, where they showed themselves well. In addition to attacking targets in the jungle, they served as gunners and coordinators for high-speed jet vehicles.
Currently, only a few IA-58 Pukara aircraft remain in working order.
Another type of specialized anti-partisan vehicles were the so-called "ganships". The idea of creating such an attack aircraft is to install a powerful battery of small arms and cannon weapons on one side of a military transport aircraft. The fire is fired when the aircraft is turning towards the target.
For the first time in a combat situation in Vietnam, this was implemented in 1964.
On the piston transport C-47 "Dakota" (produced in the USSR as Li-2), 3 machine-gun 7.62-mm six-barreled SUU-11 containers were installed on the left side: two in the windows, the third in the cargo door opening. A Mark 20 Mod.4 collimator sight from the A-1E Skyraider attack aircraft was mounted in the cockpit and additional radio communications were installed.
In one of the first sorties, AC-47D thwarted an attempt by the Viet Cong to assault a stronghold of government forces in the Mekong Delta at night. The fiery shower of tracer bullets against the background of the night sky made an unforgettable impression on both warring parties.
Such a successful combat debut finally convinced the Americans of the viability and effectiveness of such aircraft. In the spring of 1965, an application was issued to re-equip another 20 C-47s.
Effective as they were, the gunship units suffered some of the heaviest casualties among American aircraft in Vietnam. This is not surprising: most of the AC-47D flights were carried out at night, without having practically any special equipment, which in the difficult conditions of the Vietnamese climate and terrain is already dangerous in itself. Most of the gunships were older than their young pilots, who also had very little flight time on piston-engine aircraft. The short range of the weapon forced the crews to work from altitudes of no more than 1000 m, which made the aircraft vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire.
The AC-47D was usually used in conjunction with other aircraft: attack aircraft, reconnaissance and fire spotters A-1E and O-2, C-123 Moonshine lighting aircraft. When patrolling rivers and canals in the Mekong Delta, multipurpose OV-10A Broncoes often operated alongside the gunships. The AC-47D would often direct its own B-57 fighters or bombers.
At the beginning of 1966, the AC-47D began to be attracted for flights in the area of the Ho Chi Minh trail, since the capabilities of the "gunships" were the best suited to combat traffic along it. But the rapid loss of six AC-47Ds from anti-aircraft fire from large-caliber machine guns, 37-mm and 57-mm cannons, which were in abundance in the area, forced them to abandon their use over the "path". In 1967, the US Seventh Air Force in Vietnam had two full squadrons armed with AC-47Ds. Until 1969, with their help, it was possible to hold more than 6,000 "strategic villages", strongholds and firing positions. But the Americans switched to more advanced versions of "gunships", and the hopelessly outdated AC-47D was handed over to the Allies. They ended up in the Air Forces of South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand. The last AC-47s ended their careers in El Salvador in the early 90s.
The success of the AC-47D led to a sharp increase in interest in "gunship" and the emergence of many projects of this class of aircraft. Fairchild is based on the C-119G Flying Boxcar twin-engine transport aircraft. It was made on a two-beam scheme, had a slightly larger size than the C-47, and was equipped with significantly more powerful 3500 hp piston engines. The latter allowed him to fly at a speed higher than that of the C-47 (up to 400 km / h) and take up to 13 tons of payload.
Although the armament of the AC-119G consisted of the same four SUU-11 machine-gun containers firing through the portholes, its equipment was significantly improved. It was equipped with a surveillance night vision system, a powerful 20 kW searchlight, a fire control computer, and electronic warfare equipment.
The crew was protected by ceramic armor. In general, according to American estimates, the new aircraft turned out to be about 25% more efficient than the AC-47D. The first AC-119Gs arrived in May 1968 (100 days after the contract was signed).
The next series of 26 AC-119K aircraft entered service in the fall of 1969. On them, in contrast to the AC-119G, in addition to piston engines, two turbojet engines with a thrust of 1293 kgf each were installed on the pylons under the wing.
This revision made it easier to operate in hot climates, especially from mountain airfields. The composition of equipment and weapons has changed significantly.
The new "gunship" received a navigation system, an IR survey station, a side-looking radar, and a search radar. To the four "Miniguns" that fired through the portholes, two rapid-fire six-barreled 20 mm M-61 Vulcan cannons were added, installed in special embrasures. If the AC-47 and AC-119G aircraft could effectively hit targets from a range of no more than 1000 m, then the AC-119K, thanks to the presence of guns, could operate from a distance of 1400m and heights of 975m with a roll of 45 ° or 1280 m with a roll of 60 °. This allowed him not to enter the effective engagement zone with large-caliber machine guns and small arms.
The AC-119 variants have been used in different ways. If the AC-119G was used for night and day support of troops, base defense, night target designation, armed reconnaissance and target illumination, then the AC-119K was specially developed and used as a "truck hunter" on the "Ho Chi Minh trail." The impact of shells from his 20-mm cannons disabled most of the types of vehicles used. Therefore, some AC-119K crews often abandoned ammunition for 7.62 mm machine guns in favor of an additional number of 20 mm shells.
By September 1970, the official account of the AC-119K had 2,206 destroyed trucks, and the best praise for the pilots of the AC-119G could be the words of one of the leading aircraft controllers: “To hell with the F-4, give me a gunship! The AC-119 is also famous for the fact that it was the last aircraft shot down during the fighting in Vietnam.
The Air Force wanted to get an even more powerful aircraft, such a strike machine was created on the basis of the four-engine C-130 turboprop "Hercules".
The aircraft received four MXU-470 machine-gun modules and four 20-mm M-61 Vulcan cannons in special embrasures on the left side. It was equipped with a night vision surveillance system, side-looking radar, fire control radar, search lights with a power of 20 kW and an on-board fire control computer.
In one of the first combat sorties of the AC-130 Gunship II, a convoy of 6 trucks moving south was detected and destroyed by a night vision system in 10 minutes.
The next modification, called the AC-130A, had the same armament as the prototype, only the equipment changed: they received a new IR surveillance station, a fire control computer and target designation radar. The experience of the combat use of AC-130A aircraft led to the replacement in 1969 of two 20-mm M-61 cannons with Bofors M2A1 semi-automatic cannons with a caliber of 40 mm, which made it possible to hit targets when flying with a 45 ° roll from an altitude of 4200 m at a distance of 6000 m, and with a roll of 65 ° - from an altitude of 5400 m at a distance of 7200 m.
In addition, the aircraft was equipped with: low-altitude TV-system, side-looking radar, laser rangefinder-target designator. In this form, the aircraft became known as the AC-130A Surprise Package.
In 1971, the US Air Force entered service with even more advanced AC-130E aircraft, created on the basis of the C-130E (a total of 11 pieces). During this period, the North Vietnamese used a large number of tanks (according to American estimates, more than 600 units). To combat them, instead of one 40-mm cannon, instead of one 40-mm cannon, they installed a 105-mm infantry howitzer connected to an onboard computer, but manually loaded 105-mm infantry howitzer from the Second World War. (shortened, lightweight and on a special carriage).
In March 1973, the last of the "gunships" that flew in Vietnam appeared - the AC-130H Pave Specter, featuring more powerful engines and completely new onboard equipment.
Since 1972, the Viet Cong began the massive use of Soviet Strela-2 MANPADS, making any low-altitude flight unsafe. One AC-130, having received a missile hit on May 12, 1972, was able to return to base, but two others were shot down. To reduce the likelihood of hitting missiles with infrared homing heads, many AC-130s were equipped with refrigerators - ejectors that reduced the temperature of the exhaust gases. For jamming the air defense radar on the AC-130, since 1969, they began to install ALQ-87 electronic warfare suspended containers (4 pcs.). But against Strel, these measures were ineffective. The combat activity of the "Hanships" significantly decreased, but they were used until the last hours of the war in Southeast Asia.
After Vietnam, the AC-130 aircraft were left without work for a long time, interrupting their idle time in October 1983 during the US invasion of Grenada. The crews of the "gunships" suppressed several batteries of small-caliber anti-aircraft artillery in Grenada, and also provided fire cover for the landing of the paratroopers. The next operation with their participation was the "Just Cause" - the US invasion of Panama. In this operation, the targets of the AC-130 were the airbases of Rio Hato and Paitilla, Torrigos airport and the port of Balboa, as well as a number of separate military facilities. The fighting did not last long - from December 20, 1989 to January 7, 1990.
This operation was as if specially designed for the "gunship". The almost complete absence of air defense and a very limited area of conflict made the AC-130 the kings of the air. For the aircrews, the war turned into training flights with gunfire. In Panama, the AS-130 crews worked out their classic tactics: 2 aircraft entered a bend in such a way that at a certain point in time they were at two opposite points of the circle, while all their fire converged on the surface of the earth in a circle with a diameter of 15 meters, literally destroying everything, what got in the way. During the fighting, the planes flew in the daytime.
During Desert Storm, 4 AC-130N aircraft from the 4th Squadron made 50 sorties, the total flight time exceeded 280 hours. During the operation, it turned out that in the desert, in the heat and the air saturated with sand and dust, the infrared systems of the aircraft were completely useless. Moreover, one AS-130N was shot down by an Iraqi air defense system while covering the ground forces in the battle for Al-Khafi, and the entire crew of the aircraft was killed. This loss confirmed the truth known since the days of Vietnam - in areas saturated with air defense systems, such aircraft have nothing to do.
Aircraft of various modifications of the AC-130 continue to be in service with units of the US Air Force Special Operations Directorate. As the early versions of the AC-130 are written off, new ones are ordered based on the most modern version of the C-130J with an extended cargo compartment.
Another armed aircraft based on the Hercules is the MC-130W Combat Spear.
Four squadrons, armed with MC-130 aircraft, are used for deep raids into the depths of enemy territory in order to deliver or receive people and cargo during special operations. Depending on the task being performed, it can be equipped with a 30-mm Bushmaster cannon and Hellfire missiles.
The story of the "counterinsurgency gunship" would be incomplete without mentioning the smallest aircraft of this class: Fairchild AU-23A and Hello AU-24A. The first was a modification of the famous Pilatus Turbo-Porter single-engine transport aircraft, commissioned by the Thai government (a total of 17 such machines were built).
The main weapon of these light vehicles was a three-barreled 20 mm cannon. Additionally, NAR and bombs were suspended.
The second represented exactly the same rework, carried out on the basis of the Hello U-10A aircraft. Fifteen of these planes were handed over to the Cambodian government and flew intensively and took part in battles.
In addition to the United States, work on armed aircraft of this type is being carried out in other countries.
An Italian MC-27J demonstration aircraft was shown at the Farnborough Air Show. It is based on the military transport aircraft C-27J Spartan. The development is carried out under the program for the creation of inexpensive multipurpose aircraft carrying fast-mounted weapons, made in containers.
The main caliber of such weapons is 30 mm. The ATK GAU-23 automatic gun, which is a modification of the Mk 44 Bushmaster gun, was demonstrated at the air show. This system is installed in the cargo compartment. The fire is conducted from the cargo door on the port side.
Currently, armed drones have significantly pushed light "anti-guerrilla" attack aircraft. However, along with numerous advantages, RPVs have significant disadvantages. They, unlike an attack aircraft, are not capable of carrying a significant amount of ammunition on board, and are intended rather for observation, reconnaissance and delivering single-point single strikes. The attack aircraft is capable of “ironing” the target for a long time. Control of the attack aircraft cannot be lost when the enemy uses electronic warfare equipment, as is often the case with RPVs. Manned aircraft are still more flexible in use; they depend on weather conditions less than drones. Considering all this, the demand for light specialized attack aircraft in the world is not decreasing.
The US Air Force announced the purchase of a batch of light turboprop attack aircraft A-29 Super Tucano manufactured by the Brazilian company EMBRAER. The aircraft will be used in Afghanistan and other troubled regions. In addition to strikes against ground targets, reconnaissance and adjustments, these aircraft are capable of intercepting low-speed air targets.
A-29 Super Tucano
The A-29 cockpit is protected by Kevlar armor. The built-in armament consists of two 12.7 mm machine guns. The external sling carries up to 1,500 kg of combat load. In the past, these aircraft have been successfully used by a number of countries to fight rebel and terrorist groups.
Iraq has ordered 36 AT-6B Texan II aircraft from the United States. These two-seater turboprop aircraft, in addition to the built-in armament of two 12.7 mm machine guns, are capable of carrying various weapons. Including Hellfire and Maverick missiles, Paveway II / Paveway III / Paveway IV and JDAM guided bombs.
AT-6B Texan II
The Iraqi Air Force also has light attack aircraft Cessna AC-208B Combat Caravan, the main weapons of which are two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The aircraft is based on the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan single-engine turboprop general purpose aircraft and is intended for counterinsurgency operations. The aircraft has been in operation since 2009.
AC-208B Combat Caravan
Iraqi officials said a wide range of guided weapons are needed to avoid collateral damage from airstrikes against insurgents.
The avionics of the aircraft allows you to perform the tasks of species optoelectronic aerial reconnaissance and surveillance, to use aviation weapons. The cockpit is protected by ballistic panels.
The light attack aircraft Scorpion is currently being tested in the United States.
The development of the Scorpion attack aircraft has been underway since April 2012 by Textron. Aircraft assembly company Cessna is also involved in the project.
Light attack aircraft Textron Scorpion
The maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is 9.6 tons. According to design calculations, the attack aircraft will be able to reach speeds of up to 833 km / h and fly over a distance of 4, 4 thousand km. The Scorpion will be equipped with six rockets and bombs weighing up to 2800 kg.
At the end of the eighties, the Soviet military leadership spread the concept that in the event of a nuclear strike, the Union would split into four industrially isolated regions - the Western Region, the Urals, the Far East and Ukraine. According to the plans of the leadership, each region, even in difficult post-apocalyptic conditions, should have been able to independently produce an inexpensive aircraft for striking the enemy. This aircraft was supposed to be an easily reproducible attack aircraft. In the Sukhoi design bureau, within the framework of the LVSh program, several options with turboprop and turbojet engines were considered.
Aircraft model T-710 "Anaconda"
The winner was the T-710 "Anaconda" project, which was assembled according to the type of the American OV-10 Bronco aircraft. The takeoff weight was supposed to be up to 7500 kg. At maximum refueling, the mass of a normal combat load is 2000 kg. In an overloaded version, it can carry up to 2500 kg of combat load. The aircraft had 8 weapon attachment points, 4 on the wing and 4 on the pylon under the fuselage. The nose of the fuselage, taken from the Su-25UB (together with a twin 30 mm GSh-30 cannon), behind the cockpit is an armored compartment for the detachment of the paratroopers. It was supposed to use TV7-117M engines of 2500 hp, engine nacelles were covered with armor, six-blade propellers. The speed with these engines was assumed to be 620-650 km / h.
Another promising project was the T-502 light training attack aircraft. The aircraft must provide training for pilots to fly jet aircraft. For this purpose, the propeller and the turboprop engine or two engines were combined into one package and placed in the aft fuselage. Double cockpit with a common canopy and tandem ejection seats. It was supposed to use cabins from the Su-25UB or L-39. Armament weighing up to 1000 kg can be placed on the suspension points, which made it possible to use the aircraft as a light attack aircraft.
Aircraft model T-502
On these light attack aircraft, it was planned to widely use components from mass-produced aircraft. A complete process of blowing the models was carried out at TsAGI, but interest in the project has already cooled down, despite the support of M. P. Simonov. The modern leadership has also forgotten this interesting development, despite the fact that there is a clear tendency in the world to move from complex machines of the A-10 type to simpler ones, created on the basis of turboprop trainers, or generally on the basis of agricultural turboprop aircraft.
The need for an aircraft of this type is still there in our country. A light "anti-terrorist" attack aircraft with the ability to operate at any time of the day could be created on the basis of the Yak-130 trainer.
Due to the abandonment of the co-pilot as a result of deep modernization, it is possible to improve the avionics, increase the security and combat load. The previously developed combat version of the Yak-131 was supposed to have a built-in 30-millimeter cannon and Vikhr missiles with a laser-beam control system. Unfortunately, this project has not received further development.