Tracked Landing Gear: aircraft that can land anywhere
"The ideal troop-carrier combattransport would appear to be a largetransport of the twin-boom type forwhich personnel, artillery, and vehiclescould be dropped. It should have arange of two thousand miles and shouldbe equipped with self-sealing tanks,pilot armor, and a retractable track-laying undercarriage. This last featurewould permit its landing and take-off inpastures and cultivated areas. It wouldthus be able to enter the airhead early inan operation, landing and taking offfrom areas normally suitable only forgliders".---Airborne Warfare by General JamesM. Gavin, 1947
Early tracked landing gear aircraft successful in the 1950s! A Retired USAF C-130 pilot writes about the C-82 with tractor gear experiment shown here: "Mike...the C-82 with tractor gear. Only one was produced, but the P-40 Warhawk fighter idea was to reduce the pressure exerted from C-82 Packet 60 psi to 20 psi and EB-50 Heavy Bomber give it the capability to land anywhere." XB-36 Peacemaker Ultra- Heavy Bomber
With its initial single-wheel main landing gear, the 265,000 pound gross weight XB- 36 could land at only 3 airfields in the entire United States! “The track on the main landing gear is designed for a maximum average of 57 pounds pressure per square inch on the landing strip, as compared to a pressure of 156 pounds per square inch exerted by the conventional wheel-type gear on a B-36 at the same gross weight.”Tracked XB-36 ongrassy field! Washington, D.C. April 12, 1950. www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombe rs/b3-69.htm BOTTOM LINE: tracks can reduce ground pressure over wheels by 2/3ds!
Current rubber-tired aircraft cannotjust land anywhere---USAF CombatControl Team members must surveyassault landing zones with DigitalCone Pentrometers to assess soilhardness to support highpressures/weights of USAF aircraft =conservative Joint planners opt forhard runway seizure; targets that arelikely to be heavily defended by theenemy!
Joint warfighter requirements for land-anywhere capabilities drives R&D towards unsound hybrid fixed-wing/rotary wing compromise design types that are overly complex, fragile and unsafe... lacking other alternatives... “Hanger Queen” Bad helicopter with too small rotorsBad fixed-wing with too large props “Death Trap”
ASB Chairman Michael Bayer told Janes DefenseWeekly:http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/landforces.janes.com/News;sz=125x125;tile=3;ord=021601085048?"The ASB found that providing strategic lift from thecontinental USA to intra-theatre staging grounds willcontinue to be the major bottleneck in transportation.Bayer noted that Boeing 747-style aircraft wouldprovide the greatest strategic lift potential becausethey can carry more cargo further than the U.S. AirForces future mainstay Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIItransport aircraft. Noting that because "there is a hugedemand for strategic lift", the ASB recommended thatexpeditionary units plan to send as much equipment aspossible on 747-type aircraft, freeing up scarce spaceon the C-17s."
U.S. has over 100 passenger 747s sittingunused in the southwest desert that could beinexpensively converted to nose-loadingcargo types to solve the strategic lift problemand carry Army pre-loaded light trackedvehicles----Boeing On Board Loaders cangive roll-on/roll-off capability---but 747swould have to land at a long concrete runwayIntermediate Staging Base (ISB) to off-loadvehicles that would have to be shuttled in byUSAF C-130s, C-17s and Army helicopters. Details: www.geocities.com/cargo747airlift
The Answer: upgrade existing USAF C-130s,C-17s and a force of converted cargo 747swith TRACKED LANDING GEAR SYSTEMS tocreate land-anywhere extreme short-take-offand landing (E/STOL) capabilities so JointPlanners can make virtually any large areainto an assault landing zone!
The technology: unlike primitive trackedtechnologies of the 1950s, reinforced aramidfibers (kevlar) and high-strength steelreinforcements can make “band-tracked”landing gear easy to maintain and safe.Unlike the Concorde whose fragile, air-filledtires shredded on take off after running overa sharp object, causing a fiery crash thatkilled 114 innocent people, a tracked landinggear can run-over all kinds of dangerousobjects and bumps without fatal damage YES! NO!
C-130 E/STOL versus V-22 V/TOL: which works best? “J” 400 mph 100 mph sling-loads Wheeled Osprey when its flyable and not crashing, barely lifts a 3-ton rubber-tired HMMWV SUV truckTracked Hercules can internally carry then airdrop/airlandlight 92 troops or tanks up to 20 tons, 500 foot Assault LZs