Not fully happy with my entry but I'm running out of time and not making much in the way of progress. The general concept is Su-34 meets Boeing Bird of Prey as a replacement for F-111. The aircraft design is one I've worked on and off since an ill-fated collab on NS a decade ago. It's one of those things where I essentially start from scratch each time and it has given me a nice glimpse of how my skills have developed over time. I've never been fully happy with any of the attempts (The Boeing Bird of Prey's shape is deceptively hard to draw with the way it's straight angles morph into gradual curves) 3rd image is quick sketch I threw together as a joke without intending to enter but since I've run low on time to draw alternate schemes and we're allowed 3 images I figured I may as well include it.
A220 Nightingale Stealth Fighter
• Crew: 2, Pilot, WSO
• Length: 23 meters
• Wingspan: 26 meters
• Height: 2.89 meters
• Engine: 2 x Yoyodyne Propulsion low bypass non-afterburning turbofan KN of thrust each
• Top Speed: 900 km/h
• Service Ceiling 12,000 meters
• Combat Radius: 6,000 km
• Ferry range: 14,000 km with supplemental tanks.
• Empty Weight: 25,000 kg
• Loaded Weight: 40,000 kg
• MTOW Weight: 45,000 kg
Maximum Weapons load of 8,500 kg
2 Side weapons bays each w/:
-3 x Hardpoints for up to 1100 kg Each
1 Center Weapons Bay w/:
- 1 x Rotary Rack for 4 Weapons up to 2000 kg each
- 2 x Hardpoints for for 200 kg each
1 x 3 Panel Conformal AESA Multi-function Radar Set ( 2 nose and 1 tail arrays) (Optimized for Air to Ground functionality, Air-to-Air capability added w/ Block II Software)
1 x Electro Optical targeting system
Misc RWR and other EW systems
The A220 Nightingale is an advanced 5th generation strike fighter. Due to its size, payload and range the Nightingale is often more described as bomber however, the official designation is the seemingly contradictory classification of Strategic Tactical Fighter". Despite the apparent naming mismatch, this classification is accurate and is reflective of the aircraft's two primary users, The Tactical Attack Command's (TAC) Heavy Fighter Wings, and the Strategic Attack Command's (SAC) Strategic Fighter Squadrons. The Heavy Fighter Wings uses the aircraft as a strike aircraft and missile fighter, while the Strategic Fighter Squadrons are equipped for long range nuclear strike missions. The fact that a single air frame was designed to equip both of these Commands is reflective of the aircraft they replaced, the Buzzard Tactical Fighter seeing use in both of these roles. The buzzard was roughly comparable to the American F-111 and was designed as missile fighter with secondary role of tactical strike. Like the F-111 the Buzzard eventually saw it self stretched to perform more strategic nuclear strike although unlike the F-111 and it's canceled B variant, The Buzzard never lost its place as a missile fighter, serving until the early 2000s in the interceptor role along the northern frontier. As a replacement for the Buzzard, it naturally followed that the A220 would be fulfilling both air to air and strike missions
Development for what became the A220 began under the TC-210 program. The TC-210 was a light stealth fighter developed in the Early 90s by multinational coalition to replace first generation stealth strike aircraft such as the F117 Nighthawk. Disagreements over program goals and conflicting requirements led to the Shintari Air Force eventually withdrawing and the subsequent collapse of the project, however the basic technology developed under the program would live on.
At the same time the TC-210 program collapsed, TAC's Buzzard was facing higher than expected wear due to the Southern Insurgency. While poaching low flight hour air frames from SAC's Special Fighter Squadrons was proposed, doing so without providing the command with replacement aircraft would have resulted in an unacceptable downsizing of the squadrons. In addition significant differences between the Tactical and Special Attack versions of the Buzzard would also have required costly refitting in order for Special Attack air frames to perform that the same missions as the Tactical Buzzards and the Tactical Buzzards lacked the PAL interlocks required for the Special Attack missions. An obvious, albeit expensive solution was a new aircraft and a call for proposals was put out.
Initial requirements were vague but included, reduced signature, twin engine, 10,000kg payload, minimum 10,000 Km range, crew of two. Supersonic speed was desired, but not required. (A saving grace for the subsonic A220). Initial interest leaned toward a restart of Buzzard production with minor modifications, however the survive-ability of the Buzzard in contested air space was a major concern and interest shifted towards a low observable design. With the lowest signature of any proposal the A220 design was selected despite the subsonic maximum speed and high projected costs. Development was eventually moved under the Next Generation Aircraft Production Program, with the goal of promoting commonality of systems between the Night Owl flying wing bomber and more conventional Night Eagle air superiority fighter.
While both the Nightingale and the TC-210 are derived the same basic shape (Derived from the Boeing Bird of Prey), the Nightingale program is significantly larger and more strike focused design that also ditches or reduces some of the TC-210s more ambitious features. Gone were such complications as the internal cannon and maneuverability and speed requirements. The strike capabilities however were greatly upgraded, compared to to it's predecessor. While still maintaining side bays of similar size to the TC-210, the A220 added a large center bay featuring a 4 weapon rotary rack along with 2 additional hardpoints. Overall the aircraft has 12 weapon stations although volume may restrict the use of some pylons. Due to weight over runs, the final production aircraft's payload fell short of the planned 10,000kg, at only 8,5000 kgs. In particular larger weapons in the side bays typically preclude the use of the side bays' center-line hardpoints and as a result they are rarely used. In addition, many configurations for the center-line bay may preclude use of the two hardpoints or more often limit the rotary rack from turning without opening the bay doors. Even with these restrictions however the payload is considerable: A typical loadout for an air to air mission is 10 AAAM-M-ER-8 BVR air-to-air missiles and two AAM-S-7 short range air-to-air missiles, for tactical strike up to 6 AGM-1000D, 8 SGBU-500D Glide bombs or 36 SGBU-100D small diameter glide bombs can carried. Other weapons that can be carried for the air to ground mission include most standard guided bombs and cluster munitions. For the special attack missions up 8 SD-Mk 91 or SMD-Mk 99 nuclear weapons can be carried. Unusual for stealth aircraft, the innermost side bay hard points are “wet” to allow for supplemental fuel tanks to be carried.
Due to the long range and extended mission times envisioned for the aircraft, a high emphasis was placed on crew comfort. The aircraft crew sits side by side in an all glass cockpit. A small rest area with food prep and chemical toliet are located aft. Crew access is from a hatch and ladder within the forward landing gear bay.
Propulsion is via two low-bypass non-afterburning turbofans. The engines are buried deep within the aft fuselage. To reduce thermal signature, the exhaust from the engine is routed over heat absorbing tiles and mixed with cold air prior to being leaving the low profile slit outlets. This engine placement, while beneficial for the aircraft's thermal signature is not without issues however as much of the rear of the aircraft needs to be disassembled for engine maintenance.
The A220's Avionics suite features a wide variety of sensors. The primary sensors include the Aircraft's sophisticated Electro-Optical Tracking System capable of tracking targets in both IR and Visual spectrum. A laser designation system allows the aircraft to self illuminate ground targets. A network of sensors around the aircraft provide for 360 degree IRST. The distinctive relatively flat wide shovel nose of the A220 led to one of the more notable advanced features of the A220 which is it's conformal AESA Radar system mounted within the nose and chines. A second aft facing radar is located between the engine exhausts.
The aft radar, due to being nestled between the twin slit exhausts were plauged by heat problems from the engines from the start. Other issues include being overweight with subsequent cuts to payload (Goal was 10k kg payload but final production was only 8000kg,). Initial Electronic warfare capability was reduced due to software issues. The rotary launcher had initial reliability issues(Later resolved). Another notable issue, less relevant to the mission but loathed by the crew was defective seals on the chemical toilet's tank are poor resulting in a foul smell if they were used during a mission.
The first image depicts a standard Nightingale in Measure S-2 "All Weather Grey" along with an assortment of common weapons indicating potential weapons loads. The second image depicts the aircraft landed while the third image depicts what is is likely the most notorious "variant" of the aircraft as originally displayed at the National Air Museum. In the early 2000s the Shintari Air Force's Stealth Aircraft started to "come out of the black", the National Air Meuse um desperately began a campaign to add one of the many prototypes to their collection. The Bureau of Advanced Aircraft Development was not initially receptive to the idea. Prototypes from the various programs were either considered too sensitive for public display or alternatively had no airframes to spare, with all prototypes in active use. Despite these obstacles, the Museum's Curators were insistent on exhibiting a stealth fighter. Any stealth fighter would do they said, it didn't matter the type. Each program office they contacted would politely decline before tossing them off to another program. Eventually they were passed to a currently unknown prankster at the A220 Program, known only by the name of Hugh Jass. The name alone should have been a warning sign but in their excitement this red flag was over looked. Mr Jass gave the curators the phone number of the A220 Project's highly secretive "Hyper Air Vehicle Experiment" (HAVE) Division. Allegedly a group responsible for testing advance variants of the aircraft.
After a lengthy confrere call with the group's manager, Benjamin Dover and the Chief Test Pilot Major Dick Long, the curators were at last promised a stealth fighter for display. The Hyper Air Vehicle Experiment 5-EX prototype, a previously classified variant of the A220 which was used to test advanced stealth technologies which hid the plane not only from radar but also hid it in the IR and visible spectrum. The Curators were given a few conditions, due to the sensitive nature of the aircraft, the display would need to be set up by members of the HAVE team, at night, with the signage provided by them. Despite the unusual request the curators agreed, happy to be able to show of a triumph of national engineering. The list of members of the installation team was provided to the curators. The Team was lead by a Lt Mike Hunt and included esteemed engineers and airman such as Cox Ucker and Pvt Eric Shun. The innocent eyes of the museum staff was seemingly oblivious to the team's odd names and the fact that Lt Hunt had a clearly non-regulation Grouch Marx style mustache. The date of installation was set and the team acted. In the dead of night the team installed the exhibit.
The lead curators had planned a short unveiling ceremony at noon the next day an event which was to include their first look at the aircraft. The aircraft was surrounded by a curtain and when the time came, a rope would be pulled and the aircraft revealed. The first sign of trouble arose in the morning when members of the HAVE office failed to arrive for the unveiling. A frantic call to their office went unanswered. Nevertheless the exhibit had go on. A short speech was given by the lead curator to the gathered press and public then the rope pulled to reveal the aircraft and accompanying sign as depicted. Angry follow up calls to the HAVE Offices failed to connect, with the number seemingly being removed from service. A query through the Bureau of Advanced Aircraft Development and A220 Program offices met with denial that the HAVE Division even existed. The exact culprits of the prank were never publicly identified however the fact that actual spare wheels and forward landing gear spares were used in the prank indicates that the conspiracy extended to high levels of the A220 Program. A Senate Inquiry was launched but concluded without publicly releasing any findings. The 5-EX "prototype" was initially removed from display out of embarrassment, however a later head curator with a much better sense of humor had the "aircraft" moved to outside display and given new, more child friendly signage.