The SDY-Greadtóir 15 Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL, known as the Kyrenaian Aircraft Factories KAF-125 Nasir VTOL in services of the Royal Kyrenaian Navy, is a Vertical Take-Off and Landing Attack Craft designed by SDY-Greadtóir and KAF for the Royal Kyrenaian Armed Forces and the SDF in order to provide an Attack-VTOL for use aboard the Sealgaire-class Helicopter Carrier, the Ceasia-class Escort Carrier and similar vessels, as well as on land.
Like its name suggests, it is a crazy little craft.
The Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL is a small craft, 17.5 meters of length and four meters high. The entire construction weights 6.1 tons with a loaded weight of 10.4 tons, at which the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL has a range of 1,600 kilometres without additional fuel tanks on transfer flights with a strike radius of 750 kilometres, but can be refuelled in air.
The aircraft can reach a maximum speed of 600 kilometres per hour.
Manned by one pilot, the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL needs a ground crew of experienced mechanics and personnel, which can maintain the modular aircraft in all of its complexity. And complex, as well as maintenance intensive, it is. Modular parts are the wings, and the fans in them, as well as the tail assembly, the nose (and the radar within it) and the carriage.
The main fuselage houses the cockpit, the engines, electronics, fuel tanks, the internal hardpoints and the control systems.
A main design feature is the NOTAR-Assembly, which foregoes a tail rotor in favour of two contra-rotating ducted fans in the 'wings'. Instead, the tail assembly has control surfaces, especially ailerons and elevators, a fuel tank and a magnetic anomaly detector. The wings with the fans are capable of wing-warping for more agility.
For self-defence, the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL carries two dispensers for chaff and flares, acting as countermeasures against guided missiles. The internal hardpoints can be equipped with ECM-pods and other countermeasures.
As mentioned before, the sensors of the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL are manyfold, a radar in the nose and a magnetic anomaly detector in the tail assembly.
The radar is a capable and proven Nuacht N-26 Mark II X-band Pulse Doppler Radar, the same as on the SDY-Sciathan 18 Stuama Mark II Light Multirole Fighter, with an effective scanning range of sixty kilometres looking up, capable of tracking twelve targets at that range.
In the tail assembly, the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL carries a Magnetic Anomaly Detector, MAD for short, a magnetometer to detect minute variations in the Earth's Magnetic Field, usually used to detect and ultimately sink submarines. The MAD usually rests within the hull, but must be extended when in use, although the device is hampered by the distance to the target and the depth of the target. These sensors can also be used on land to detect magnetic anomalies. Both devices rely on the content of ferromagnetic materials in the target.
A radiation detector provides further reconnaissance information, with said information used to locate and destroy enemy nuclear-powered submarines and surface vessels as well as similar land assets.
In addition to that, a downsized battlescape network system enables the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL to send and to receive data from other aircraft, ships, land units and other sources without problems, without the need for a node, although that would increase the performance.
Engines, Controls and Handling
The power of flight is provided to the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL by two contra-rotating ducted fans, who, in turn, are powered by two free-turbine turboshaft engines, both of them Luas L-92 Mark III Free-Turbine Turboshaft Engines, distant relatives of the L-91 used on the SDY-Greadtóir 19 Cuaifeach Shipborne Helicopter. These turbines, in principle close to jet engines, but actually differing in so far that they optimized for providing shaft power rather then thrust, are highly reliable, small, relatively light and can provide a high power output. In this case, each of these engines can provide up to 2,300 shp.
Sitting at the side of the fuselage, the L-92s provide power to the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL, in the forms of lift, forward movement and a bit of electricity. The aircraft can rise like a helicopter, even with full load, and manoeuvre by wing-warping, providing it with a manoeuvrability unseen so far. Due to the rotors being ducted fans, the losses of thrust by air turbulences at the tips of the rotors are eliminated (not to mention the noise), with more and shorter propeller blades operating at higher rotational speeds, being safer for ground crews as well.
The pilot, supported by a HUD, sits in a glass cockpit, which allows him to steer the aircraft by triple-redundant fly-by-wire systems, modular in architecture to ease maintenance.
A trainer with two seats, but without rear weapons bay and heavily reduced capabilities, is offered as well.
The Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL is equipped with a retractable 30mm autocannon with a thousand rounds underneath the nose, directly controlled by the pilot on a pivoting mount. The pilot controls the gun either by a small joystick or via the HUD and eye movements.
In addition to that, the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL has eight hardpoints, two internal and six external. The two internal hardpoints are limited to either equipment modules, like an ASW- or an additional ECM-suite, or barrel bombs, depth charges and similar weapons. The six external counterparts can be armed with many kinds of weaponry, from rockets to missiles to further gun modules.
A version of the Briseorumar Anti-Tank Missile System to arm the Craiceáilte is in development.
The Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL is constructed with a reduced radar signature in mind, but that was not at the forefront of the development. It is most suited for operating in low altitudes, so radar detection will be difficult to begin with. However, it is not a stealth-craft.
Hearing the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL is not as easy as with for example helicopters: A conventional helicopter is far louder, mostly due to rotor noise, the famous Whump-noise, which does not occur with the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL, due to the ducted fans. There still is noise, but it's not as much as with helicopters.
In 2000, with the introduction of the Luaith Attack Helicopter, it became apparent, that these helicopters did little in the way of aiding the SDF-Army in its tasks – quite on the contrary, with their harsh maintenance requirements and specialized equipment, they were more of a burden. In 2010, they exceeded their repair budget so far, that by October, the fleet was force-landed and the Army began to search for a replacement, including straying into the world of VTOLs. It wouldn't be the first time, that the SDF considered VTOLs for service, but the first time, that a VTOL was introduced into service.
In 2012, after the disastrous Battle of Marley Bay, the SDF-Navy joined the development effort, including a version for their new aircraft carriers, at the time still being presented with a choice between the Sealgaire-class Helicopter Carrier and the Beag-class Aircraft Carrier. Both are now part of SDY's Catalogue, although only the former was adapted by the SDF-Navy.
The SDF-Navy showed great interest in the Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL, the Army still wishing to adapt them for their service to replace the Luaith Attack Helicopters. Slowed down by troubles with the handling and the engines, the planned introduction date in 2015 passed without the introduction of the new aircraft.
Searching for a new VTOL for the Royal Kyrenaian Navy, to support landings of the Fleet Marine Forces, the Sultanate joined the programme in 2013, giving it the local designation KAF-125 Nasir.
Getting the controls under control proved to be easier said then done, but it was managed in 2016.
In 2017, the first Craiceáilte Mark I Attack-VTOL rolled out of the factories, training and shakedown beginning in July aboard the Helicopter Carrier SDFS Maor, with official flight operations starting on March 20, 2018, the Day of the Spring Festival.