MANUFACTURER(S): Lockheed Corporation - USA
OPERATORS: United States (cancelled)
LENGTH: 57.25 feet (17.45 meters)
WIDTH: 29.20 feet (8.9 meters)
HEIGHT: 17.22 feet (5.25 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 17,891 pounds (8,115 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 35,274 pounds (16,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-100 afterburning turbofan engine developing 15,000lb of thrust dry and up to 25,000lb of thrust with afterburner.
SPEED (MAX): 1,448 miles-per-hour (2330 kilometers-per-hour; 1,258 knots)
RANGE: 2,113 miles (3,400 kilometers; 1,836 nautical miles)
CEILING: 60,696 feet (18,500 meters; 11.50 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 60,000 feet-per-minute (18,288 meters-per-minute)
Detailing the development and operational history of the Lockheed CL-1200 (Lancer) / (X-27) Lightweight Jet-Powered Fighter / Interceptor Proposal.
Entry last updated on 10/22/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
With a focus on performance and low maintenance costs, several major aero-industry defense players of the middle Cold War period put effort into design of a supersonic lightweight fighter aimed primarily at the export market. While the clear winner ultimately became the Northrop F-5 "Tiger" / "Freedom Fighter" (detailed elsewhere on this site), there were designs to emerge from Lockheed, McDonnell Douglas and France-based Dassault to consider as well. For Lockheed, their private venture proposal was based on an advanced form of their earlier F-104 "Starfighter" platform which debuted in 1958.
The aircraft became the short-lived CL-1200 "Lancer", a sleek supersonic jet retaining some of the design traits of the classic Starfighter. Key changes included shoulder-mounted wing mainplanes of increased span (over 50% more surface area was added) as well as larger-area tailplanes for improved control and stability. The fuselage was lengthened to house more fuel stores and, in turn, increase operating ranges when compared to the F-104. The single-seat cockpit remained aft of a pointed nosecone and intakes to aspirate the sole axial-flow turbojet engine were featured to each side of the fuselage. The tail consisted of a single vertical plane with two low-set horizontal members. Unlike the F-104's "T-style" tailplane arrangement, the CL-1200 had its horizontal planes seated along the fuselage aft sides. A tricycle landing gear, carried over from the F-104 in full, was to be used for ground-running.
Propulsion would come from a General Electric J79-GE-19 turbojet engine offering more power than the original version used in the F-104. The aircraft was estimated with a maximum speed of Mach 2.57 (1,450mph) out to a range of 370 nautical miles and a service ceiling of 60,000 feet. Rate-of-climb was to be an impressive 60,000 feet-per-minute. Its take-off run was listed at 1,450 feet and its landing run at 2,060 feet - key marketed qualities for the design was to be able to operate from short fields (a quality lacking in the high-speed F-104).
Lockheed has planned to rely on existing F-104 production facilities for mass-producing this aircraft for the global market - again with a focus on keeping costs down and commonality of parts between the CL-1200 and the F-104. The aircraft would naturally appeal to existing F-104 operators as well as economically-minded, emerging air services in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and South America.
In terms of armament, the CL-1200 would keep the F-104's 20mm General Electric M61A1 gun as its standard, forward / fixed armament. However, there was provision to be made to have this weapon easily replaced by the 30mm DEFA autocannon system for those export customers already aligned with the French weapon. The Lancer was also planned with nine hardpoints for the carrying of various in-circulation Air-to-Air (A2A) and Air-to-Surface (A2S) munitions as well as wingtip- and underwing-mounted fuel tanks - all this a vast improvement over the limited F-104 stores capabilities.
The finalized CL-1200-2 form was to exhibit a running length of 57.2 feet, a wingspan of 29.1 feet and a height of 17.1 feet. Empty weight was 17,250lb against an MTOW of 32,500lb. The PW TF30 turbofan fit would have provided 15,000lb of dry thrust and 25,000lb of thrust with afterburner.
Lockheed had also looked to creating a two-seat trainer variant for its Lancer line to better instruct its new operators on the nuances of the supersonic aircraft. The second seat would have taken up some of the internal space used for fuel stores, limited range, but this would have been negligible considering the role of the trainer-minded aircraft. A future proposed variant was also to carry the more potent Pratt & Whitney TF-30-P-100 afterburning turbofan for both increased power and performance - this as the CL-1200-2 / CL-1600. The CL-1200-2 was to compete in the United States' Lightweight Fighter Competition of 1972 which was eventually decided between the General Dynamics YF-16 and the Northrop YF-17.
All of the work came to naught when, in November of 1970, the Northrop F-5 design won out over all others. This essentially killed any prospects for the supersonic lightweight fighter-interceptor proposed by Lockheed with the exception being United States Air Force interest in acquiring one CL-1200 for testing flight envelopes beyond the Mach 2.55 range. The aircraft was given the designation of "X-27" but was never funded so it, too, died though only after a full-scale mock-up was completed by the company (and up to three early-form fuselages were being worked on at the time). Of note in the revised X-27 model was its squared-off intake shapes.
The CL-1200-2 and the X-27 were also at the heart of another proposed version of the Lancer, this geared towards the United States Navy as the CL-1400/CL-1400N. However even this initiative fell to naught.
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General Assessment (BETA)
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
MF Power Rating (BETA)
The MF Power Rating takes into account over sixty individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of 100 total possible points.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
This entry's maximum listed speed (1,448mph).
Graph average of 1125 miles-per-hour.
Graph showcases the Lockheed CL-1200 (Lancer)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units