The US Navy had the idea of developing the A-12 Avenger-II stealth bomber that took off from an aircraft carrier but then had to kill this aircraft because of many obstacles.
Long before the fifth-generation stealth fighter F-35C entered service, the US Navy had the idea of a stealth bomber that took off from an aircraft carrier – the A-12 Avenger -II.
According to The EurAsian Times, in the 1980s, the US Navy conceived this aircraft to replace the A-6 ‘Intruder’ low-flying long-range attack aircraft under the Modern Tactical Aircraft program. ATA).
The design concept of the A-12 Avenger II stealth bomber. Photo: USNI
Aerospace manufacturing company McDonnell Douglas (now merged with Boeing) has partnered with aerospace and defense group General Dynamics to develop the A-12 Avenger-II, a subsonic bomber of a design monolithic wing-fuselage, outwardly looks like a miniature B-2 Spirit.
The US military was then leading the world with the integration of stealth technology and the A-12 bomber would be one of the first results of the successful use of stealth in the bomber. bomb attack. However, the program has encountered many obstacles.
According to the US Naval Institute, the A-12 Avenger-II bomber has a higher speed than the A-6 Intruder.
With a top speed of 930 km/h and a range of 1,500 km, the A-12 Avenger-II can carry two air-to-air missiles and two air-to-surface missiles such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM along with unguided bombs and precision-guided bombs.
Some reports suggest that the A-12 is capable of carrying nuclear weapons stored in the weapons bay inside the aircraft.
The A-12 Avenger-II has a relatively small body and minimal tail surface, which greatly reduces drag. The engine used in this stealth aircraft is a General Electric F412 GE-D5F2 turbofan engine.
Combining stealth and flexibility in carrier operations, the A-12 promises an excellent deep attack capability, according to the military journal National Interest.
With such a promising prospect, the US Navy has planned to buy 610 aircraft and the US Marine Corps to buy 238. Even the US Air Force intends to replace its fleet of A-111 Aardvark bombers with 400 A-12s.
What happened to the A-12?
The first flight of the A-12 was originally scheduled for December 1990. After several delays, the aircraft’s critical design review was successfully concluded in October 1990 and its maiden flight was rescheduled to early 1992.
The US Navy’s F-35C fighter is considered the successor of the A-12. Photo: Pinterest
In 1990, however, a US government report identified major problems with the program. The invisibility coating became difficult to integrate because of the adjustments that significantly increased the weight of the A-12.
According to the US Naval Institute, the plane’s production cost was estimated at $96 million and the program was over budget and 18 months behind schedule.
After allowing the US Navy to defend the program, then-US Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney canceled further development of the A-12 Avenger-II in January 1991.
The reasons behind the program’s cancellation are still being debated in US defense circles. Some believe that the A-12 Avenger-II entered the design and production cycle as soon as the Cold War ended.
Faced with a tight defense budget, Mr. Cheney decided to kill the A-12 in favor of less risky programs.
Interestingly, contractors McDonnell Doughlas (merged into Boeing in 1997) and General Dynamics were ordered to reimburse the US Navy $2 billion for the money spent on the design and development of the failed bomber. this defeat.
However, the two contractors above dragged the US Department of Defense to court for breach of contract and arbitrary behavior causing the program to be canceled.
After years of dispute, the case was finally closed in 2014 with Boeing and General Dynamics agreeing to each pay $200 million to the US Navy.
In the end, the US Navy accepted that the upgraded variants of the F-18 Hornet and A-6 Intruder never found a worthy replacement. The cancellation of the A-12 Avenger II program is considered the largest project termination in the history of the US Department of Defense.
Legacy of A-12
The A-12 stealth bomber is believed to be one of the most advanced US military innovations of that century.
The full-size A-12 model was revealed to the public at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in June 1996 and later transported to a veterans memorial park near the airport. Meacham north of Fort Worth (Texas, USA) in June 2013.
F-35C fighter of the US Navy. Photo: The Eur AsianTimes
The controversy over the cancellation of the A-12 program became so well known that aviation historian James P. Stevenson wrote the book The $5 Billion Misunderstanding: The Collapse of the Navy’s A-12 Stealth Bomber Program. The $5 Billion Misunderstanding: The Collapse of the Navy’s A-12 Stealth Bomber Program.
Although the A-12 was unable to take off, it provided many lessons for future generation stealth aircraft in the US Navy.
The fifth-generation stealth fighter F-35C produced by defense contractor Lockheed Martin is considered the successor of the A-12 in both its role and industrial origin.
The F-35C becomes the US Navy’s first low-flying carrier-based aviation platform, which is planned to replace the F-18 Hornet as the main strike fighter of the carrier strike group. air defense and close air support.
The US Air Force is working on developing a next-generation bomber – a project that closely resembles the A-12 in essence and spirit.