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General Dynamics F-111K (Aardvark)

Tactical Swing-Wing Strike Aircraft

General Dynamics F-111K (Aardvark)

Tactical Swing-Wing Strike Aircraft

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
IMAGES
Overview



The General Dynamics F-111K was drawn up for the British Royal Air Force after the cancellation of the BAC TSR.2 bomber - it too was abandoned.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1968
STATUS: Cancelled
MANUFACTURER(S): General Dynamics - USA
PRODUCTION: 0
OPERATORS: United Kingdom (cancelled)
National flag of United Kingdom
UK
Technical Specifications



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the General Dynamics F-111K model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 2
POWER: 2 x Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-100 afterburning turbofan engines.
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LENGTH

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CEILING

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RANGE

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Armament



Nine hardpoints were planned with four under each wing member and a under-fuselage bomb bay to house various ordnance options including conventional drop bombs, laser-guided bombs, air-to-surface missiles, and fuel drop tanks.
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft guided bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank
Variants / Models



• F-111K - Base Project Designation; final assembly of first unit near completion at the time of project cancellation; two other incomplete airframes used for spares.
• TF-111K - Proposed trainer mark.


History



Detailing the development and operational history of the General Dynamics F-111K (Aardvark) Tactical Swing-Wing Strike Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/23/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
After the cancellation of the BAC TSR.2 tactical strike aircraft (detailed elsewhere on this site) by the British government in 1965, the Royal Air Force (RAF) was left looking for more budget-conscious offerings. This eventually led the service to the American General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark "swing-wing" tactical strike / reconnaissance platform. This potent system was introduced with the USAF in 1967 and saw 563 examples produced. It was only ever exported to ally Australia where it flew under the nation's Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) banner for a time (these being Australian-centric "F-111C" models).

The swing-wing feature of these aircraft allowed a single airframe to maintain the necessary lift-versus-drag quality across various phases of flight by way of a "variable" wing arrangement. For low-altitude, low-speed flying (such as a landing action), the wings were outstretched/extended while, for high-speed flight envelopes, these same members were "tucked" in along the sides the fuselage - creating a more streamlined arrowhead-like form. Popular, classic examples of swing-wing aircraft of the period became the Grumman F-14 Tomcat naval fighter and PANAVIA Tornado strike aircraft though the concept was under study even in the days of World War 2 (1939-1945).

For the British during the Cold War period (1947-1991), the painful loss of the TSR.2 meant that the in-service, proven F-111 appeared to be a strong conciliatory selection for the RAF - which had passed on local solutions including a modified Blackburn "Buccaneer". The service contracted for fifty of a new "F-111K" production model modified to fit the requirements of its new owners. The K-model was to support current RAF ordnance and feature the lengthened wings of the F-111B production form with the overall design lines, form, and function of the F-111A. To this would be added an in-flight refueling capability (by way of a retracting fuel probe), an extra fuselage hardpoint for broadened munitions-carrying, British-centric systems throughout, and a Mark II series navigation / Fire Control System (FCS) to satisfy the intended strike / reconnaissance role. The aircraft's Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) would also see an increase.

The requirement was handled under "ASR.343" which was drawn up in the middle part of 1965 and this was to cover two distinct forms of the new aircraft - the standard strike bomber and a trainer-oriented model, both requiring prototypes to prove themselves sound. A formal design review involving British authorities was had in November of that year and this showcased the speed at which the program moved along. In March of the following year, the government formally signed an agreement with the United States to cover the first ten aircraft and the remaining forty was signed off for in March of 1967.

However, all things changed when economical factors came into play, resulting in the F-111K program being cancelled by the British government on January 16th, 1968 - this with final assembly of the first aircraft being well-advanced. The ASR.343 requirement was, in turn, suspended indefinitely and the outmoded Buccaneer moved into the RAF inventory while the Avro Vulcan strategic bomber was re-classified to the long-range interdiction role for the foreseeable future.

The program cost roughly 280 million Pounds for the time and very little was had to show for the investment.

As drawn up, the K-model was to continue many of the design qualities of the F-111. This included a crew of two - a pilot and weapons systems operator - seated side-by-side in the cockpit. Overall length of the aircraft reached 73 feet with a spread wingspan of 63 feet and a swept wingspan of 34 feet. Height was 17 feet. Power was to come from 2 x Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-100 afterburning turbofan engines of unknown thrust output. Performance indicated a maximum speed of Mach 2.5.

Installed systems were to encompass the Rockwell AN/APQ-130 attack radar, the Sperry AN/APQ-128 J-band terrain-following radar, and the Marconi AN/APN-189 Doppler navigation radar suite. A total of nine hardpoints would be featured under the aircraft and under the wings - four to each wing (8 total) and a weapons bay hardpoint at the belly.




Media







Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 2000mph
Lo: 1000mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (1,920mph).

Graph average of 1500 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
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  NYC
Graph showcases the General Dynamics F-111K's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (0)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
0
0

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.


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