Thursday, May 6, 2010

LOMAC Flaming Cliffs 2.0: Battlefield Loitering in the A-10

One of the most crucial capabilities of the A-10 is it's ability to loiter around the battlefield for hours so it can be available after a few minutes whenever a ground commander needs its firepower.
Even the most hardcore combat flight simmers will stay away from a mission where you have to fly an aircraft for  more than one hour. Me too. Who has the time for that?

Nonetheless, I wanted to see if I could experiment the A-10's loitering capability in LOMAC. So, I took onto the virtual skies in my virtual A-10, loaded with 100% fuel and a spiffy payload for close air support. In this mission that I edited there is an SA-11 battery some 30 km ahead so I started my loitering circular circuit at around 1,000 ft.

How to stay airborne the most time with the least fuel? Stick and Rudder says:

"An airplane will maintain flight with the least amount of power if it is flown quite slowly, very nose-high, with its wings at very high angle of attack.[...] The airplane is not covering distance very effectively, for it is too slow, but if develops perfectly astounding endurance".

I make no claim that I nailed an optimal flight regime for loitering or that I even know the "speed of best duration" of the virtual A-10. But I was mildly surprised with my flight conditions, which I kept almost hands free for a good fifteen minutes (fell asleep on the keyboard).

At this fuel consumption rate, I can loiter for more than one hour and still have some fuel for an attack run and the RTB. 

In the image above, also note how the RWR is quiet. :)


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