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I'm attempting to writing in a near-future war setting where some new weapon designs are being tested, in an attempt to breakthrough the enemies military strategies by "thinking out of the box" so to speak.

And for that, I thought that it would be interesting for an aircraft with the hyper-mobility of what we see in Armored Core could be interesting for ground-support aircraft. Like a helicopter on steroids.

Armored core Verdict day quick boost

In armored core series, specially the latest Armored Core 6, the mechs are capable of using rocket thrusters to make quick boosts that accelerate the mech from 0 to 300 kph or even from 300 kph from one direction to 300 kph to another direction.

Mechs are unnecessarily complex, so taking the legs, torso, arms and head off, you would have a proper aircraft.

But taking into consideration the fact that there aren't any aircraft like that in real life, I'm not really sure if it would be that practical.

The closest thing I could find was this anti-missile defense multiple kill vehicle (MKV)


Besides, don't worry about G force tolerances, you could use the Physiological water tank, a person could survive hundreds of G's.

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  • $\begingroup$ Asking open ended questions where ideas are generated or opinions are shared are not suitable for this site. We are not a discussion site. Do you have a specific worldbuilding problem you would like help solving? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Jun 22 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings I disagree on it being too open ended - there's some hard numbers in here to define what's being asked about, and evaluating whether a military craft would be suitable for warfare is a perfectly objective criteria for analysis. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 22 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ The existence of numbers don't change the fact that advantages and disadvantages is an open ended question format. Suitable for warfare is entirely dependent upon the political needs leading to warfare as well as the disposition and capabilities of any expected adversaries. As such this is more of a discussion prompt than a sufficiently specific question suitable for the stack exchange format and this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Jun 22 at 15:34
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings It's being used as a ground support aircraft. This is a well defined combat role. While the technological capabilities of the enemy are not explicitly spelled out, it's pretty well implied that they are similar to those of the aggressor and also of a near-future technology level. The inclusion of "some new weapon designs are being tested" seems to state that military strategy has not really progressed much from modern day, too, and that only prototypes of new ideas exist. Again, this is a perfectly reasonable context to analyze a weapon under. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 22 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ Ground support can be served by a souped up cesna, a helicopter, an A-10, or a swarm of drones. What is effective depends on the conflict in question. 4 years ago our idea of near future technology regarding drones was drastically different than it was today. The term is effectively meaningless. We're not an analysis site. We're here to answer specific worldbuilding questions not provide our own analysis or generate ideas. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Jun 22 at 17:38

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You're stretching the limits of your materials.

Let's get some math out of the way by figuring out what kinds of forces and energy expeditures we're talking about here. We'll assume this mech (calling it a mech, though I know it's technically not one) is very lightweight at about 8,000 kg, the approximate weight of a kitted out Apache helicopter.

Accelerating from 300 km/h one way to 300 km/h the other way is a change in velocity of 600 km/h, or 166 m/s. If we presume this boost happens over the course of one second, and factor in the mass above, that's going to require 1.3 meganewtons of force, or just around 300,000 pounds.

For reference, that's almost ten times the force generated by one of an F-22's engines, or five times the force generated by the jet in total. It's greater even than the lift generated by the first phase of a Falcon 1 rocket.

So with an engine that's looking more like a small-lift space rocket than a fighting aircraft, how are you going to mount it to the aircraft? Presumably it's going to need to pivot somehow to be able to be omni-mobile, but that's going to be a mean engineering feat. You've got an absolutely colossal amount of force actaing against whatever mechanism is going to try to aim this future-tech engine, and that's not even accounting for the fact that you probably want to make this thing aerodynamic (in multiple directions!) too.

The specific question of what kind of steel or carbon nanostructure you would need to pull this off is beyond my chops, but I feel pretty comfortable in saying that it's not going to be easy, and any developments required to make it possible would be better used in missiles or traditional jets.

Okay, but what about in combat?

Shoot it down like anything else.

I hate being a buzzkill like this, but a Sidewinder missile travels at mach 2.5. That's 10 times faster than your 300 km/h dashes. It's designed to take out jets moving way faster than your mech, and unpredictability in movement isn't going to help you that much when you're going so (relatively) slow.

It also doesn't help that your massive engine requirements are going to limit the amount of weight you have to spare for armor.

Against something that isn't an air-to-air or ground-to-air missile, it doesn't even matter because any modern aircraft will give you air superiority. For the price of getting one of these future-tech crafts, you could comission a half-dozen more traditional aircraft that would rain down hell all the same.

This aircraft does not boast any particular advantage in a real-world type scenario and would never be preferred over traditional aircraft.

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    $\begingroup$ Depends on the version. AIM-9M and below, I think he can beat it every time. The missile motor burns a few seconds to get it up to that speed, then it's coasting, using fins to steer until it either finds a target or runs out of energy. AIM-9X, however, has trust vectoring, while it's burning it can turn at 60g, which should catch his mech. But only while it's burning which is a pretty small part of it's total flight. And that's assuming it even can, that thrust vectoring is for off-axis launch, not killing something like this. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23 at 2:33
  • $\begingroup$ @LorenPechtel Modern anti-air missiles don't need to score a direct hit to destroy an aircraft. Missile warheads are equipped with a proximity fuse to detonate once close enough to the target. $\endgroup$
    – user73910
    Commented Jun 30 at 5:27
  • $\begingroup$ @user73910 Yeah, you have to stay out of the kill radius which makes it harder. It doesn't make it impossible, though. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30 at 21:07
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Technology makes real life militaries boring

Insofar weapons meant for killing can be called cool, there have been many cool technologies made in military technology. However, military technology boils down to something we don't like in our games. Military technology aims to reduce the effort required to take out opponents to a minimum. We can see this in the progression and the romanticism of the progression. We used to bash each other's head in with sticks and metals. With the advent of the gun killing became a much more easy task. From there we go to tanks, artillery and aircraft. Each stage making easier it to kill each other. This is of course after a fashion, as introducing artillery on both sides makes it difficult to get accurate shots and the like.

If we look at airplanes we see this romanticism in media very well. Games like Call of Duty or movies like Top Gun give you close quarters dogfighting and excitement. The real life version is much more difficult to sell as exciting. Airplanes are now more a glorified rocket launcher platform, able to stay well out of range for all but the most advanced anti air technology, able to reposition at a moments notice. The moment close air support is granted, most advanced anti air systems are presumed gone. We can see this in the Ukraine war, where Russian helicopters are mostly used in areas the anti air is (temporarily) disabled or simply not present.

The need for such a high manoeuvrable planes is then close to nothing. In a modern airforce there shouldn't be a use case for any plane or helicopter to have that amount if manoeuvrability. At worst it is a needlessly complex design that adds a lot of points of failure.

Imagined use cases

We can of course imagine use cases. If a plane is detected and fired upon, it can use the manoeuvrability to change position at the last moment. This makes getting or maintaining a lock more difficult, as well as making rockets in the air miss more easily. In a modern future all battles might be close quarters like in your gif thanks to scrambling technology. Together with other short range anti air technology it might be prudent to have such manoeuvrability.

But again, the complexity of such fighters is incredibly high. In addition, other technologies are probably more valuable, like automation, stealth, speed, height and detection range. Why would you ever attack close quarters and evade fire with miniature rockets if you could fire a single missile from a safe 50-200km away?

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Other people have given the more likely answers, but they are Boring.

Vertical Arboreal style movement in an Urban Environment

So, if we have Arms and Legs on our Mech, we can push off of things and pull on things to change our direction - this is combined with the thruster jets - which actually is more of an advantage than perhaps you realize, especially when doing CAS (Close Air Support).

Currently you have 4 main ways of doing CAS:

1: Helicopters.

Helis have many advantages - the biggest of which is that they can go low and slow and even hover. They can hide behind terrain and stay there popping out to ripple off a salvo of Rockets before ducking back into Cover. The issue is however that Helicopters that are stationary and hovering are sitting ducks. Even the most agile of Heli (such as a Lynx) is only pulling around several G at most. And that value is predicated on the Helicopter moving at speed. a Helicopter that is hovering cannot suddenly jink to dodge an incoming missile.

2: CAS Aircraft - things like the A10 or the Sky Warden. These are faster than Helis, can carry more ordinance than Helis, but they have to maintain a minimum speed. They cannot hide like a Heli. The trade-off is that they are able to pull much higher Gs to evade enemy fire and missiles and what-not.

3: Gunships like the AC-130 - Big, fat, Slow and requiring Air-superiority - They have the advantage of being able to loiter and then rain down fire on a target and due to the pylon turn, they are (for the purposes of providing fire support) Stationary. However, the requirement is that need control of the air - which is why the US Air Force is really the only entity that deploys this type of Aircraft.

4: Bombers - This one can be argued as whether or not they are true CAS or not, but with advances in munitions, you can have a B1, B2, B52 hovering around at 40,000 ft and periodically delivering things like JDAMs and other precision munitions onto the unfortunates that are requesting the finest un-healthcare US Tax Dollars can buy. They have similar pros and cons as the Gunships, with an added downside that because they are often much further away, even with the ability to drop a smart bomb and have it guide itself to the target, there is a delay between the drop and the munition hitting its target (Info says they can travel up to 28 Km - Data on the internet says it takes 100 seconds to hit, but I think this is talking about something different)

In short - you either have the ability to dodge missiles and in-coming fire and be relatively maneuverable - or you have the ability to loiter and stay on target and hope that the skies above you are clear. In the real world, the US Air force does exactly this.

However

If you are operating in an Urban environment, a vehicle that has the ability to jink and dodge (or at least have sudden lateral acceleration) and also the ability to hover would be an asset. Hiding behind a building, jumping out, unleashing a salvo, then using the mechs legs and arms to push/pull off of a building to give a sudden burst of speed to move in a way that missiles are unable to follow - then you have an advantage. You have the higher maneuverability of a CAS Jet, with the hide-and-seek tactics of a Helicopter and without the delay of a Gunship or Bomber.

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