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ARES 2016-10-05

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The ARES, Scaled Model 151, was designed initially in response to a U.S. Army request for a Low Cost Battlefield Attack Aircraft (LCBAA). A design study was performed by Rutan Aircraft Factory in 1981 for such an aircraft. The original LCBAA design was for a pusher turboprop aircraft, of generally the same aerodynamic configuration you see here. It also was designed around a 30mm chain gun. Its mission goals were low-altitude, close air support, with long endurance, and with adequate field performance to operate from roads. Its structure and systems were simple enough to be maintained and repaired in the field.

Scaled followed up with the concept, and ultimately decided to build a demonstrator aircraft with internal funds. By the time construction started in 1986, the design had evolved to the current configuration: a single Pratt and Whitney Canada JT15D-5 turbofan engine (same as in the Beechjet / T-1A Jayhawk), and a GAU-12/U 25mm gatling gun.

The ARES first flew on February 19, 1990, with Scaled test pilot Doug Shane at the controls. Since that first flight, the ARES has flown more than 250 hours, and demonstrated all of its design performance and handling qualities goals, including departure-free handling at full aft stick. During November of 1991, under a contract from the U.S. Air Force, initial ground and flight (air-air and air-ground) tests of the GAU-12/U gun system installed in ARES were performed, with outstanding results.

Movie buffs may also remember the ARES villainously portraying the secret ME-263 jet in the screen classic Iron Eagle III.
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