Accession Number:

ADA574784

Title:

Special Operations Forces Aviation on a Shoestring Budget: An Effectiveness Analysis of Light and Medium Fixed Wing Aircraft

Descriptive Note:

Master's thesis

Corporate Author:

NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA DEFENSE ANALYSIS DEPT

Report Date:

2012-12-01

Pagination or Media Count:

131.0

Abstract:

If properly selected, low-cost commercially available off-the-shelf light- and medium-fixed-wing aircraft are sufficient to effectively accomplish special operations aviation mission sets in support of special operations ground forces. As the nature of combat continues to shift away from traditional state-on-state wars to more irregular conflicts, the skills possessed by special operations forces SOF will become key to a nations success in achieving its national security aims. While numerous allied nations possess skilled and ready ground SOF components, relatively few possess special operations aviation capabilities. This lack is largely due to the prohibitively high costs of acquiring and maintaining such specialized niche aircraft. This study employs a qualitative analysis of candidate aircraft that examines acquisition costs, cost per flying hour, aircraft performance specifications, and aircraft capabilities, and scores each aircraft against a list of hallmark qualities of SOF aviation to assess candidate aircraft utility. The evaluation determined that all four light-fixed-wing and all three medium-fixed-wing candidate aircraft are fine choices for executing SOF support. The Britten-Norman BN2T-4S Defender outscored all of the other candidates, possessing the most hallmark qualities. However, the Pilatus PC-6 Porter was the most economically efficient light-fixed-wing platform, costing 2M less than the Defender over a typical aircraft lifespan. In the medium-fixed-wing category, the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J is the clear standout in overall performance and utility. Although these recommendations are meant to help SOF leadership make a sound decision, overall aircraft preference should be based on the aircraft capabilities a nations SOF value most, given its specified budget.

Subject Categories:

  • Attack and Fighter Aircraft
  • Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft
  • Transport Aircraft
  • VSTOL
  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE