Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nomad Aircraft for Australian Defence Force

Australian Defence Force Nomad AircraftOne relatively inexpensive item the Australian Defence Force could add to its shopping list is 50 of the Nomad short take off and landing (STOL) aircraft. The Nomad was used by the Australian, Indonesian, Papua New Guinea, Philippine and Thai military, but production ceased in 1985. In July 2008, Gippsland Aeronautics announced it had purchased rights to make the aircraft.

When fitted with new generation turboprop engines the Nomad will have about three quarters the carrying capacity, in terms of passengers and volume of cargo, as the ADF's new NHI NH90 helicopters, at considerably less cost. The STOL fixed wing aircraft could be used where the vertical and heavy lift capability of a helicopter is not required, resulting in lower purchase and operating cost and lower crew training requirements. The Nomad will use about half the fuel of a helicopter, reducing the logistics burden on larger transport aircraft needed to bring in supplies. The Nomad will also require considerably less maintenance and less sophisticated support.

The Nomad cargo cabin internal dimensions are 6.2 x 1.22 x 1.6 m (l x w x h) this 3 m3 smaller than the the NH90 capacity of 4.8 x 2.00 x 1.58 m (l x w x h). The NH90 has a wider cabin and a rear ramp for easier loading. However, the Nomad's door is 1.32 x 1.2 m, so should be able to (just) fit a standard US DoD Joint Modular Intermodal Containers (JMIC). The JMIC containers, such as those made by Garrett, are 1.31 x 1.1 x 1.1 m, allowing five to fit in a Nomad, whereas only four would fit in the NH90. Australian pallets and ISO pallets should also (just) fit.

There was criticism by the RAAF of the STOL handling of the Nomad, poor single engine performance and critical centre of gravity for loading, but these problems may be corrected to some extent for the newly manufactured aircraft.

No comments: