SECRET SUPERPOWER AIRCRAFT: Quest for Vertical Take-Off
Military planners fear the runway's vulnerability to pre-emptive attack. Their solution - Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircraft able to launch without runways.
The Cold War's onset led to Western Europe's need to defend from Soviet invasion and the attempts by NATO powers to ensure they achieved aerial superiority over the USSR.
One of the greatest fears was the concept of a pre-emptive strike that would knock out NATO airstrips before their fighters could take off. The solution was vertical take off.
This programme examines the early attempts to produce such an aircarft and the challenges involved in achieving that goal. We turn to the US efforts to build a Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircraft aircraft, "Pogo" aircraft, the Ryan X-13 Vertijet, F-104, and Sikorsky S-57.
Meanwhile, British designers were developing the P1127, which NATO nearly adopted as the European standard, before political wrangling killed full deployment. Its technology ended up in the Harrier Jump Jet.