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The Friendly Skies?

The guys at Danger Room have a picture of the new AF Special Ops Osprey with the beach just east of Destin in the background.

The over-abundance of condos are mostly vacant, and available cheap for a quick sale from those companies that are not in receivership or foreclosure. Destin was once a nice place to go for seafood, but you can’t see the Gulf anymore, unless you are in one of the condo towers.

In a bit of serendipity I saw an Osprey flying overhead as I walked over to my Mother’s at about 6PM. It would be on it’s way from Hurlburt to the ranges on Eglin. It didn’t crash while I was watching it, which is pretty good for an Osprey.


1 Badtux { 03.16.09 at 8:16 pm }

It didn’t crash while I was watching it, which is pretty good for an Osprey.

Heh. Aviation snark!

The general *concept* of the Osprey — i.e., a VSTOL aircraft that can operate at altitude and has a much longer range and much faster cruising speed than a helicopter — is a nice one. The actual execution… meh. I think the whole architecture of the Osprey is wrong for its intended mission. I mean, whoever heard of a combat copter that didn’t have provisions for forward-shooting rockets and machine guns, for example? How the hell is it supposed to clear a landing zone, when its only machine gun fires *backwards*? And that’s not even going into the whole tilt-rotor thing (as vs. vectored output like the Harrier), which is inherently unstable when transitioning from hover to cruise and back again…

2 Bryan { 03.16.09 at 10:06 pm }

I wonder why they included the “quality of mercy” in the design specs. You know design an aircraft so that “It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath”. Of course it isn’t very gentle when it “droppeth” but that’s probably in a change order.

I don’t know what it’s like in helicopter mode, but it is loud flying over. With the engines exhausting down it might be quieter, other than directly underneath.

The fact that is essentially stops to transition is going to make it a easy target.

AFSOC will probably add guns to it. I expect a forward firing weapon initially, and a rotating turret eventually. The large props and need to tilt makes the wings worthless for weapons.

[All right – it just flew over on its way home without crashing. You can recognize it by the sound – like a C-130 but with a buzz, probably the result of the large props.]

3 Kryten42 { 03.16.09 at 11:07 pm }

When I worked for GD a couple decades ago and the V-22 was about to be prototyped, it was already the butt of many jokes. That hasn’t changed much except that many of them have been realized. I saw three plans for weapons systems. One was to have a modular internal pod system that could be configured for different missions with options for surveillance, black op’s, rotary rocket or missile launcher, gun pod or bomb bay. Another was to mount guns on the sides similar to the jolly green or even the AC-130 (In all honesty, if I’m a grunt on the ground in unfriendly territory, I’d much rather see an AC-130 than a V-22 any day!

But yeah… Making it actually operational would be a plus. But like the C-5 Galaxy actually. Would be nice if they could stop bit’s, like engines and landing gear, from falling off. I still remember a briefing where we were told that a C-5 required an average of 6 hours ground maintenance for every hour flight time! Incredible.

We just had the 2009 Avalon International Airshow and the USA sent over the usual suspects including a C-5, and as far as I know, nothing fell off for a change. 🙂 There was also a C17A Globemaster III I believe. 🙂 The US stopped sending the C- for awhile after Russia sent an Antonov AN-125 and everyone wanted to see the Antonov and pretty much ignored the C-5. LOL The AB-125 sure as hell impressed me! And nothing fell off either. 😉 A 75-ton monster!

4 Bryan { 03.17.09 at 12:19 am }

Someone suggested that we set up one area of the ramp at Rhein-Main to look like a static display of the C-5 because there was always one on the flight line waiting for parts. They don’t crash, but that’s hard to do when you can’t get airborne.

The Soviets always knew how to do big, but the AN-125 ran through a lot of fuel. When you own the oil reserves of Russia you don’t worry about fuel efficiency.

The C-5 is an old airframe because I rotated out of Rhein-Main in the early ’70s.

The CV-22 is a composite structure, I don’t think you can do anything other than use external pods without compromising the airframe integrity.

I want a real AC-130 with the Gatling and the 105mm, not a couple of wimpy .50 cals.

If you can’t rotate to wing to vertical you can’t land the thing or ditch. All you can do it headed for open space and bail out.

5 Badtux { 03.17.09 at 2:46 am }

I assume you’re talking about the An-124. They’re still in high demand today, for example the US Army chartered an An-124 to come land here at Moffett AFB to take the National Guard choppers there (the something-something-something Rescue Squadron) to Afghanistan, they could just roll the choppers on board the An-124 while nothing in the U.S. inventory was big enough to do that. The Ruskies and Ukrainians are talking about a new run of An-124’s with many improvements to make them a better commercial transport (as vs. a military transport) and upgrading the current ones with better (more fuel-efficient/powerful) engines, though initial plans for new production appear to have been pushed out to 2011. It would not be the first time that an old design got put back into production in the (now-former) SovBloc, all the Tu-95’s still flying were built in the 1980’s after all, over 30 years after their introduction in the mid 1950’s…

6 Kryten42 { 03.17.09 at 3:31 am }

No, An-125. 2nd largest heavy lift aircraft in the World. The latgest is it’s big brother, the An-225. 🙂

Antonov An125 Landing at Frankfurt Main, GermanyAntonov An125 Landing at Frankfurt Main, Germany

I found a YT vid of one landing at St. Maarten
Antonov 125 at St. Maarten

7 Kryten42 { 03.17.09 at 3:32 am }

So… how come I can see an image in preview, but not when it’s posted? Oh well… here’s the URI:


8 Kryten42 { 03.17.09 at 3:56 am }

Hmmm. Strangely, Antonov don’t list an an-125 on their site. But I know when I saw it at the airshow, it was billed as an an-125. I have photo’s and checked and the signboard listing the details say’s ‘Antonov an-125’. Dunno… I know they made several variants of the 124, and I think 1 (or maybe 2) of the 225 (which has 6 engines). A search reveals many sites with pic’s or stories of an An-125. Very strange. *shrug* LOL Maybe the 125 was a military only variant… Dunno.

I guess it must have been a 124, the 125 pic I have looks very similar to one of the later variants. Was billed wrong at the Airshow… Oh well. LOL

9 Kryten42 { 03.17.09 at 4:05 am }

Found a site with some great pic’s of the 225. Should nickname it the ‘centipede’! Must be a bugger to land, especially with a couple hundred ton’s of cargo!


10 Bryan { 03.17.09 at 9:47 am }

The 124 and 125 are the same aircraft – 125 would seem to be used for an export version in some areas. They are now available with other people’s engines, so the 125 may be the version with the Rolls Royce engines, which would be a selling point in Europe and Asia.

Antonov does that, using different numbers for the same aircraft, or it appends a suffix number, like Boeing, just to be confusing.

11 Badtux { 03.17.09 at 10:43 am }

The Rolls Royce engined version is the An-124-100M, for example. It has been type-certified but not delivered, same general problem that all of the old Soviet heavy industries have been having — half the factories to build the parts for the thing are in Russia, the other half in the Ukraine, and most of them have been plundered and looted and the equipment sold for scrap. When the Russians restarted production of the Su-27 as the Su-30, they basically built the first dozen planes from spare parts and sold them to India, then used the resulting cash to basically re-build the infrastructure to build jet fighter planes from scratch, because the old Soviet-era infrastructure was scrap.

The thing that is amazing about these old Soviet birds is that they work so well given the relatively primitive state of the Soviet industrial infrastructure that built them, which was hard-pressed to build even the relatively inefficient jet engines that powered them. Or maybe it’s *because* of the relatively primitive state of the Soviet industrial infrastructure… after all, that’s why the AK-47 is still in use all around the world sixty years after its original design, it was deliberately made simple so that it could be made with a primitive industrial infrastructure, and as a result of being so simple it is also extremely robust. Meanwhile, Ospreys fall from the sky like ducks during hunting season. Except you can’t make good gumbo out of Ospreys :-(.

12 Bryan { 03.17.09 at 8:09 pm }

I think, upon further consideration, that the 125 is probably the new version that might be built if the Ukrainian and Russian segments of Antonov finally settle their differences. They are planning to start building the Ruslan/Condor again because of demand but the facilities are split.

Given the current state of relations between Russia and the Ukraine I wouldn’t give this happening much more that “possible”, unless Putin is going to make major bucks from the deal.

This was always a low volume airframe, so I don’t see this as a slam dunk, but they would need to start looking for orders at airshows, the only place the An-125 is ever reported being seen or photographed.

13 Kryten42 { 03.17.09 at 9:51 pm }

Yeah… That was pretty much my conclusion also. 🙂 I spent some time looking at the specs of the many 124 variants and the photo of the spec’s posted for the 125 at the airshow, and there are differences. Eg, the 125 has different engine model designation and a higher load capacity, the wings look slightly different also.

I also found out from an ex-RAAF friends website (He’s a consultant now and visits all the major shows and all the players) that the USA has been trying hard to sell us a C-5 and thankfully we have resisted. He says that there is serious consideration for the Antonov because it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to own and operate than anything the US has of similar capabilities. I hope we get an Antonov, if for no other reason than pissing off the MIC! LOL I can hear the howls (and usual threats) now! LOL

14 Bryan { 03.17.09 at 10:51 pm }

The only problem with these huge beasts is finding runways to accommodate them. It’s nice to be able to haul around locomotives and ICBMs, but you eventually have to land near the destination, so they really aren’t a war zone aircraft.

15 Badtux { 03.17.09 at 11:42 pm }

But they certainly work well enough for getting stuff “close enough” to the war zone. Like the An-124 that flew a whole freakin’ Black Hawk squadron (the 129th Rescue Wing) to Bagran in Afghanistan from Moffett Field here in Mountain View. The Black Hawks are capable of deploying on their own to combat once they’re in theatre, thank you very much!

Regarding designations, the Russkies are always putting arbitrary new designations onto existing aircraft to try to sell them as “new and improved” to potential customers. The Su-27 has alternately been hawked as the Su-30, the Su-32, Su-33, the Su-35, the Su-37, all are the same basic airframe with various experimental modifications (for everything past Su-30). They seem to have recently settled on Su-30 as the designation for their updated export version of the Su-27, with various variants getting different suffixes to denote the different modifications that various customers demand. The An-124 may have been a victim of that earlier, they seem to have settled on attaching a suffix to An-124 now rather than using a new number for the various variants (An-124-100M for the version with the upgraded wings and uprated engines, An-124-210 for the version with the upgraded wings and Rolls Royce engines, for example), but it wouldn’t surprise me if, during the time they were hawking the Su-27 around the world under a dizzying array of different designations, that they were doing the same with the An-124.

16 Kryten42 { 03.18.09 at 12:36 am }

Oooh!! We just had another quake! Really… I was chatting with LadyMin… And the house moved! :O


17 Bryan { 03.18.09 at 1:07 am }

I would assume that the Russian half of Antonov was doing the “show and tell”, and knowing their quality control it is also possible that there was a misprint and they didn’t want to reprint the literature.

The only real knock against the 124 is that it doesn’t hold pressure in the cargo bay, so you can’t take people with their equipment. Of course, that does make it cheaper to build and maintain.

No word yet on the strength of your earthquake, Kryten. I’ll check in the morning.

18 Kryten42 { 03.18.09 at 1:55 am }

Our State newspaper ‘The Age’ published an article about the quake about 15 min’s after it hit! That was fast. LOL And LadyMin said Twitter was going nuts about it. 🙂

Melbourne hit by tremor

They must be having a slow day at the news desk there. 😉

I think you are right about the Antonov. 🙂 I still hope we get one but. 😉

19 Bryan { 03.18.09 at 12:09 pm }

The USGS says it was a 4.4 about 105 km Southeast of Melbourne, which would definitely be noticed.

I am definitely not a fan of earthquakes. The earth should stay where it is put and not move around.

20 Kryten42 { 03.19.09 at 1:23 am }

Curious. They news services here are reporting that it was officially 4.6 (not that I’m splitting hairs!) 🙄

I am definitely not a fan of earthquakes. The earth should stay where it is put and not move around.

😆 I think you may be living on the wrong planet then m8! 😉 Mind you… I’ve been thinking I’ve been living on the wrong planet for decades! But until very recently… Earthquakes were not one of my reasons! 😆

21 Bryan { 03.19.09 at 10:10 am }

The 4.4 was the automatic systems that first record events and assign a preliminary number. Today it is listed as 4.6 after the “human” review. The first report is from a limited number of stations. As more stations report they refine the classification.

We don’t have detectable earthquakes in Florida – just hurricanes and tornadoes.