The Royal Air Force’s Bomber-Killing Bomber Was Just a Dream

WIB air November 15, 2015 War Is Boring 0

A Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan in 1985. U.S. Air Force photo Britain sought to turn the Avro Vulcan into a really big … fighter by DAVID AXE...
A Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan in 1985. U.S. Air Force photo

Britain sought to turn the Avro Vulcan into a really big … fighter

by DAVID AXE

In 1976, the British Royal Air Force had a problem. In the event of war, Soviet Backfire bombers flying from Europe could have devastated resupply convoys sailing from the United States to Europe.

The RAF needed a warplane with enough range to patrol the vast Atlantic — and enough payload to haul long-range, bomber-killing missiles.

Plane-maker Hawker Siddeley suggested adding 12 U.S.-made Phoenix missiles to the Avro Vulcan bomber. The addition would have required extensive modifications to the Vulcan’s radar.

Blueprint via @AvroVulcan617

In any event, the RAF dropped the idea. To defeat the Backfires, the U.S. Navy deployed carrier-based F-14 fighters armed with Phoenixes.

The Vulcan “fighter” wasn’t the only air-to-air version of a heavy bomber. In 2004, Boeing proposed to build a new model of the B-1 bomber that would have been compatible with AIM-120 air-to-air missiles.

Around the same time, there were rumors of plans to add Kh-31 anti-radar missiles to Russian Backfire bombers in order to transform them into specialized hunters of enemy radar early-warning planes.


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