The AA.6C (NATO reporting name Fondant-D
) was the first variant of the second generation of the successful AA.6 Fondant
ground-attack aircraft manufactured by Dravio, the national aviation company of the Socialist Republic of Krantica (a neutralist Communist nation in Terragrandia a la Titoist Yugoslavia).
Krantica was one of the first nations to truly recognize—and ultimately implement—the value of close air support in the jet age. Soviet (via Galdioslav) tactical air warfare doctrine during the early to mid-Cold War period, that Krantica used with considerable leeway, did away with the sturmovik
concept in favor of air interdiction with fast-moving fighter-bombers and tactical bombers employing conventional or nuclear weapons, which hoped to obviate the need of close air support. However, the Vietnam and the Arab–Israeli wars on Earth and the Zelgora–Dashtyrine wars on Terragrandia have consistently illustrated the need for aircraft best suited for close air support. Prior to the notable advent of the Americans' Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II and the Soviets' Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot
in the late 1970s, the Kranticans had stepped up to the challenge early on.
With a robust, self-sufficient national economy backing the flourishing national aviation industry that spanned from engine maintenance and spare parts production to successful development of locally designed aircraft, Dravio began the AA.6 program in the mid 1960s using experience from its experimental and research aircraft, materializing in the maiden flight of the first prototype on February 3, 1970. After a quite grueling development phase and funding competition with the more complex AB.5 Breacher
tactical strike aircraft program, the serial-production AA.6A entered service with the Krantican Air Force in March 1972 as scheduled, earning the unassuming NATO reporting name of Fondant
. The first generation AA.6s had Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21-style wings, with leading edge root extensions for better low-speed performance, and were equipped with locally designed radar rangefinders for more precise aiming of unguided weapons, and could utilize radio-guided Martelo air-to-ground missiles. Internal gun armament consisted of two Nudelman-Rikhter NR-30 cannons with 120 rounds of ammunition each—a hefty
amount for such a weapon; apparently, aircraft designers foresaw the potentially long periods and multiple strafing runs over the battlefield that the AA.6 could face.
The AA.6 fit the bill nicely with Krantica's deterrent, non-nuclear military doctrine of "offensive defense," which sought to protect the country's neutrality by primarily attacking would-be aggressors from outside the land and maritime borders; tactical bombers would engage enemy forward installations deep behind hostile lines, the AA.6s providing the intended CAS duties on the battlefield, and supersonic fighter-bombers performing the middle ground.
Operational experience with the initial variant were applied on the improved AA.6B Fondant-C
, which entered service in the fall of 1973, with the AA.6AL Fondant-B
conversion trainer having finally made operational earlier that year. Such two variants were the ones that would definitely see mass production, and, ultimately, export sales.
Work on the second-generation Fondants
began in 1974. It saw radical changes in the design, most notably the redesigned wing and pronounced humpback. It had improved fuel and ordnance capacity, armor protection, and a better pilot's forward view. A Soviet-built Fon laser rangefinder replaced the older radar rangefinder, and an integrated Delta-N radio-command fire control system enabled the usage of the Kh-23 (AS-7 Kerry
) air-to-ground missiles; Martelo missiles were still compatible. The AA.6C Fondant-D
entered service in 1977.
The AA.6D featured more efficient afterburning turbofan engines and more modern avionics, primarily the Lanco laser rangefinder; it debuted in 1981. A proposed maritime strike variant, with an attack radar and an anti-ship missile capability, was pitched, complete with a full-scale mockup. Although very promising especially for export, it was canceled to prioritize funding for the AL.14 multirole fighter program which entered service in 1987. A conversion trainer based off the AA.6D, the AA.6CL, was introduced in 1982, as was the ultimate main variant, the AA.6F, introduced in 1985. The AA.6F utilized, based on customer option, either a Krantican Lanco-M2 or a Soviet Klyon laser guidance system, and electro-optical fire controls, plus a fixed refueling probe. The older variants earned considerable mid-life upgrades for both domestic and export operators.
Between 1972 and 1989 778 AA.6s of all variants excluding prototypes were constructed (with the last of the unsold airframes in storage in Krantica being sold in as late as 2009), seeing service with 9 nations in Terragrandia at some point in time. No Earth-based countries ever used the type.
After Krantica transitioned generally peacefully towards a democratic, capitalist nation in 2003, the new government, in order to conserve public funds, opted to divest the already financially ailing Dravio and privatize it, which was finalized in late 2004. The move saved the company, albeit being split into two successor companies in 2007 which continued to prosper as of 2019 primarily working on rotary-winged and light fixed-wing aircraft, defense systems, and collaborations with larger multi-national programs. The Krantican Air Force retired the last of its Fondants
, an AA-6F-equipped squadron, on October 11, 2018.
Length: 16.25 m (53.11 ft), excluding pitot tube and tail antennas
Wingspan: 12.0 m (39.37 ft)
— Empty: 9,075 kg (20,006 lb)
— Maximum takeoff: 16,590 kg (36,575 lb)
Powerplant: 2× PMF Pasero-M axial-flow turbojet; total 52 kN (8,992 lbf) dry, 71.3 kN (15,257 lbf) afterburning
— Top speed at sea level: 1,286 km/h (Mach 1.05; 799 mph, 695 kts)
— Top speed at 10,000 m (32,808 ft): 1,592 km/h (Mach 1.3; 990 mph, 860 kts)
Service ceiling: 13,400 m (43,963 ft)
— Ferry range (clean): 1,900 km (1,181 mi, 1,026 nmi)
— Combat radius, with 2,000 kg payload and 900 L drop tank: 420 km (261 mi, 227 nmi)
· 2× 30×165 mm NR-30 cannon (135 rounds each)
· 2× outer underwing, 275 kg (606 lb) capacity each
· 4× inner underwing, 500 kg (1,102 lb) capacity each
· 1× centerline fuselage, 950 kg (2,094 lb) capacity
Select key avionics
— Fon laser rangefinder
— Delta-N radio-command fire control system
cheers – wb21