3365. Firefox: Gunship Structural and Material Considerations


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California Polytechnic State University: 3365. Firefox: Gunship Structural and Material Considerations. 2005.



In response to the 2005 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Team Undergraduate Design Competition, Paladin Aerospace presents Firefox, a new generation gunship to replace the AC-130. Modern demands have outgrown the aging cargo-based airframe of the AC-130H/U Spooky gunship. First introduced during the Vietnam War in 1968, the AC-130 has been modified and improved to meet the continuously evolving demands of modern warfare. In recent years, the proliferation of Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) and low-cost Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) has created a gap in defensive technology. Nearly 80% of all fixed-wing aircraft lost during Operation Desert Storm were to MANPAD systems. Spooky, with its low-altitude, predictable, circular attack patterns was particularly vulnerable to these radar and IR seeking devices. The request for proposal (RFP) requires an affordable, highly survivable aircraft to provide lethal firepower during a 4 hour loiter. Firefox moves away from the cargo-based configuration of the AC-130 to a conventional fuselage sized around a single 105mm Rheinmetall tank gun and three 40mm autocannons. This paper focuses on the methods used to reinforce the aircraft for survivability with advanced materials and provide adequate structural support to endure the gun forces. The blast overpressure, recoil force, and heat generated by each of the four guns create material and structural issues unique to a gunship aircraft. Maintaining a low weight is desired to minimize acquisition cost to meet the affordability requirement of the RFP. Only essential areas are reinforced with high strength, resilient, but heavier or more costly materials.


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