Yesterday I noted a Strategy Page post about the return of the LAW. Defense Industry Daily has more details, and had already noted the comeback in March. Check ’em out.

It seems that the real world, especially the parts of the real world without high-tech military equipment, is bringing back some old-time favorites. I’ve long carried on and on about the M14 rifle, and I noted the M79 ‘blooper’ grenade launcher.

UPDATE: Speaking of DID, Joe Katzman has a great post up at Winds of Change: The US Military’s Futuristic “Helicopters”

He notes the Joint Heavy Lift (JHL) rotorcraft.

This is a futuristic aircraft that would carry roughly the capacity of a modern C-130 Hercules Transport, but with the ability to take off and land like a helicopter.

This reminds me of something that I recall seeing some time back. Apparently, while brainstorming ideas to rescue the Iranian hostages by force, someone came up with the idea of using rockets on a C130 to allow it to land on a soccer field in Tehran, using the rockets to stop it once it touched down. Then, once the hostages were loaded, rear-firing rockets (RATO) would allow the plane to take off again from the field.

Was this a totally pie-in-the-sky idea? Was it ever tested? Is it even feasible? Does anyone know?


  1. The YMC-130H was tested, two were worked up. One crashed, however, when the pilot hit the forward-firing stop rockets at the wrong time. After that, they were deemed too risky. The Blue Angels regularly do JATO takeoff demonstrations with their C-130 ‘Fat Albert.’ Hard on the airframe, though.

  2. I remember something called an ‘Osprey.’ Haven’t heard much about that lately. (I am being sarcastic) Maybe we’ll just have to wait for a gravity drive to be developed.

  3. I saw a C-130 JATO takeoff demo at Cherry Point, NC a few years ago. It was very impressive. Way back in the 50’s the B-47 ‘Stratojet’ ‘EMERGENCY (SHORT RUNWAY) TAKE-OFF MODE’ was designed to use 18 (eighteen) JATO solid fuel rockets to give it an additional 20,000 lbs thrust.

  4. Yeah, JATO works, it’s even been done on fighters such as the F-100. Probably a bit hairy to fly it though. JATO was mainly in place due to the low thrust that the jet engines of the time could produce, but also the fact that the spooling up time for the engines was very slow. In fact these attempts with the C-130 have been filmed, and I recall watching some on TV on some documentary when I was younger. So these videos are out there somewhere…

  5. Speaking of ‘Rocket assist’ aircraft….. How about the ‘Rocket-Powered’ Me-163 Komet. It looks like 2 bathtubs welded together with a couple of wings glued on. It took off on a jettisonable trolly and landed on a skid. LOOK MA, NO WHEELS! About 300 were built between 1941 & 1945. HOWEVER, Despite being a virtual ‘death-trap’ for the pilot AND a combat range of ONLY 22 miles this little beauty could reach speeds over 600 MPH. The most interesting model (Me-163C). It had a pressurized cockpit. Its armament consisted of 5 (five) vertically-mounted tubes in each wing. Each tube contained a 50mm shell. The weapons were activated by a photo-electric cell as the rocket interceptor passed under an allied bomber.

  6. Okay, okay. I realize that JATO/RATO has been around for quite some time and works just fine. I was wondering specifically about the C130-into-and-out-of-an-Iranian-soccer-field project. I was especially curious about the stopping ability and the take-off ability of a plane that’s just been through a violent rocket-assisted landing…Should have known C130s could manage it somehow. Re:JATO…Check this out:

  7. Murdoc, ever seen the TV show ‘Mythbusters’? They decided to bust that Darwin Awards myth. They stuck 3 solid rockets on top of a Chevy and drove it by remote control. They got it up to a pretty good speed, but far short of what the myth seems to suggest, and the vehicle seemed to still be somewhat controllable at that speed. I think the thing which busts it for me is to realise that the RATO rockets don’t really fire for all that long – a few seconds. Sure, they’ll get you going fast, but that speed will bleed off pretty fast too. Their run lasted, from memory, about 30 seconds, from the top speed the Chevy would do without the rockets, up to the top speed of the whole run, then coasting back down to a reasonable driving speed. It’s a pretty good show. They bust (or prove) lots of interesting Myths. For example, they flicked a lit cigarette into a pool of gasolene (repeatedly) to show that it’s unlikely to be hot enough to actually ignite it. They had actually done some scientific research beforehand and predicted that result. So much for all those movies :)

  8. Actually Strategy Page just did a story about the Osprey, specifically the ‘special forces variant’. It looks like it needed more development than we were promised (really?), but it’ll get deployed eventually. We need something to replace all those airframes that are older than the people that use them!

  9. Carter Copter. Just broke the MU-1 barrier. still its not fully proven. They have a pic of a nice c-130 sized varient. Vertical takeoff and landing!