LAFR Concept One
Light Attack Fighter Recon VTOL Aircraft
The LAFR was born out of a concept drawing I had made during a bus ride to a Jazz festival in Reno Nevada. I want to make a sort of competition for myself to create a strike/ fighter/ recon fighter that could meet a series of criteria. The Criteria were:
LAFR Competition Criteria
Small, Lightweight and Agile
Easy to fly, with good low-speed handling
Capable of vertical take off and landing
Have stealthy features
Be able to carry small amounts of arms internally
Explore my own understanding of VTOL
The first aircraft of this virtual competition I have made in the LAFR Concept One, the aircraft that you have either downloaded or are about to download. It fits the criteria above quite nicely. The best of which was the vertical take off and landings. No aircraft I have downloaded for X-Plane takes off or lands as easily as this aircraft. Transition to horizontal flight is a cinch:
The Speed in which you make the transition is dependent on the speed in which the engine tilts... its that easy. With a little practice you can get so the engine in always pointed at the ground... its your AIRCRAFT that moves AROUND the engine, so you can get perfectly rocket takeoffs. Great for standoff attacks with little notice.
This is the picture I released in the message board a few days ago... I brought it here to show the conceptual drawing made of the aircraft in comparison to the final product. Came out pretty close.
Performance And Handling
The best part of this aircraft is its low speed manueverability. It is quite agile even at low speeds of 200 knots, and if the speed goes down to around 100 knots, the hover system kicks in and you get a different kind of agility... vector thrusting. Its agility allows it to make multiple passes at targets quickly and easily while staying in a small radius of flight. Also allows for limited dogfighting (the aircraft would not be equipped with a very large air-to-air radar, nor is fast as the dedicated fighters) and would prove lethal against other attack aircraft or hellicopters. Also, low-observability techniques like RAM (radar absorbent material) and its faceted, no right-angles fuselage would allow for a very low RCS, making it an even better strike aircraft. Unfortunately, this LAFR is subsonic, which is necessary to keep the weight down on the airframe. Keep the throttle BACK when flying, or else you will break mach, spin out of control, and maybe crash X-Plane. Just a word of warning.
Set 'ER Down Here!"
The small landing zone (maybe around 10-20 feet if you are good) means super versatility in combat zones. FAC stations (forward air control) could re-supply the LAFR's meager armament quickly between attacks, and LAFRs could stay on station in small clearings of forest and "pop-up" when radioed for a strike on a tricky gun emplacement or SAM site. Also, like the RAF is now doing with the harrier, modual systems could equip a cargo vessel with provisions of this extremely small craft for covert operations or a cheap alternative to carriers. I've been able to land the LAFR on Frigates, Oil Platforms, Carriers, Small Runways and even buildings.
The weapons carried by the LAFR One will depend on the mission, obviously. The unique, dual-boom shaped fuselage does not allow for a large volume of fuel, so most space is already taken. What could happen though is that removable "fuel bladders" could be installed to the aircraft if it is evident that it is necessary to give added range, like on RECON flights. When operating from a FAC, where fuel is not an issue, the LAFR can carry maybe two or three small GBU units, four AGM-65s, and other smaller weapons, on top of the M61A2 cannon that is a standard for all my military aircraft. Another proposed idea is that I design some sort of stealth weapons pods that hang off the wings that can carry more munitions, and larger munitions. The only drawback to this is it creates a lot of drag on the airframe, and will either require more runway to take off (a rolling start with the VTOL) or a larger engine, which would oppose weight limitations on the aircraft. Bummer. Still an interesting idea, though.