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Why Scaled Composites ARES was like a mini A-10 Warthog

by Till Daisd
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ARES-Mini-A-10

The Scaled Composites ARES

Agile Responsive Effective Support (ARES) is a full-scale proof-of-concept demonstrator that was developed as a concept in support of a US Army request for a Low-Cost Battlefield Attack Aircraft (LCBAA). The LCBAA design goals were low-altitude, anti-tank, battlefield support with long endurance, and capable of operating outside of improved airfields environment.

Having logged over 430 hours of flight time, ARES has proven to be capable of meeting all design performance and handling goals, including departure-free handling at full aft stick. Tests of the GAU-12/U gun system installed in ARES were conducted in November 1991, yielding excellent results.

A mini A-10

‘Think of it as a mini A-10,’ says Damien Leimbach, former US Air Force (USAF) Avionics Technician on Quora.

‘It’s a single-seat, single-engine, canard-style Close Air Support aircraft with an internal 25mm Gatling gun.

‘The engine and single intake are mounted on the opposite side of the plane from the gun to balance it out and prevent the engine from ingesting propellant gasses from the gun.

‘It’s fast, cheap to operate and easy to build. Most importantly, it has the ONE THING troops want and that the potential replacements for the A-10 lack.

A big ass gun.’

The Scaled Composites ARES, the mini A-10 that never was that played the part of the secret Me 263 jet in the movie Iron Eagle III

Movie enthusiasts might also recall the ARES from its appearance in the iconic Iron Eagle III as the secret Me 263 jet. The aircraft has been turned into a commercially accessible research test bed following its movie debut. The aircraft was kept in storage at the Mojave Spaceport in December 2000 until Scaled Composites merged with Northrop Grumman and resumed flying on March 7, 2008.

As many off-the-shelf components as possible

Leimbach explains:

‘It was designed from the start to use as many off-the-shelf components as possible. The jet engine is used in Cessna Citations. The hydraulics are from a Piper Malibu. The data bus is from an F-16. The gun is the GE GAU-12, already used in [AV-8B] Harriers and [as a lighter four-barrel cannon designated GAU-22/A] F-35s. It has pylons to carry things like small-diameter bombs, Hydra rockets, and Hellfires if upgraded with a targeting pod. For air-to-air it can also carry Sidewinders and Stingers.

‘The plane can withstand 8 G’s, and because it is so lightweight, it has a range of 1200 miles.’

Leimbach concludes:

‘It has a combat radius of over 600 miles, and for reference, the A-10’s is 250. Although I will concede that the A-10 carries a lot more than the Ares.

‘But just think about flooding the skies with these. What a sight.’

In the following video, legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan reveals the secrets of ARES.

Photo by Resplendent via Wikipedia

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