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The Veilbhit-II Light Attack Aircraft is a light attack aircraft designed and produced by Gabha Blacksmiths Limited, filling the SDF's need for a replacement of the Veilbhit Light Attack Aircraft, as well as to provide a trainer for new pilots. It is a lightweight attack aircraft, which can also be used as a fighter-aircraft, if need should arise, and has a two-seat version as a trainer.

The term veilbhit means velvet.

Design

The Veilbhit-II Light Attack Aircraft is a lightweight, small aircraft, 12.75 metres long, spanning 9.75 metres and being 4.97 metres high. It weights 4.4 tons empty.

A long and pointed nose, which houses the radar amongst other things, leads to the cockpit, a single-seat cockpit for the main Light Attack Version and a tandem cockpit with the instructor sitting slightly elevated in case of the trainer. The canopy is opened manually and hinged on the right, leading into the rest of the fuselage.

The low-set, straight wings are of a double-taper planform, providing, in addition to the 2.5 degrees diheral from their roots, a low aspect ration, which in turn provides manoeuvrability and lower fuel consumption. The wings have both flaps and ailerons, also including an automatic trimming system, providing stability and to counteract large pitch changes, which would be generated by sudden movement of the flaps. The Veilbhit-II is build of a reinforced titanium-alloy, the cockpit being armoured with a light composite ballistic armour.

The tail assembly features a tall, swept vertical tail with inset rudder and two horizontal stabilizers, one on each side, with inset elevators, mounted at the rudder's base and over the exhaust nozzle. Airbrakes are located underneath the fuselage ahead of the wing's leading edge.

Flaps, landing gear and brakes are hydraulically powered, while ailerons and rudder have pushrod-actuated and electrically powered servo tabs.

The engine is a proven and capable Luas L-26 Mark II engine, providing 30 Kilonewton of dry thrust, which also has an afterburner. It is the same engine as onboard the SDY-Sciathan 18 Stuama, a turbofan engine, relatively cheap and easy to maintain engine, achieving high pressure and therefore high power with axial and centrifugal compressors. As a low-bypass two-spool engine, it provides high power at relatively small fuel consumption, 88.6 kilograms of fuel per Kilonewton and hour. The Veilbhit-II can carry up to 2000 litres of fuel internally, including in the wingtip-tanks and has the option to carry up to 1700 litres externally on hardpoints.

Of particular note is the arrangement of the engine, which is located in the back of the aircraft, air being fed to it through shoulder-mounted semi-circular air intakes.

The Veilbhit-II can operate from unprepared airstrips or even austere locations such as frozen lakebeds (we tested it) with ease, thanks to a retractable, hydraulically actuated and quite rugged tricycle undercarriage, which is designed to handle such rough handling. Adding in the low landing speeds and easy handling and one has an aircraft made for both attack and training.

All in all, the Veilbhit-II can easily be operated due to the design philosophy of ease of maintenance and handling in all aspects.

Armament

The Veilbhit-II has a wide array of armament possibilities, having six harpoints, all of them under the wings, and a 30 millimetre auto-cannon in the nose. The external hardpoints can carry a load up to 2.4 tons of ammunition and stores, including up to four external fuel tanks.

Ammunition in use can include, but is definitely not limited to, unguided bombs, air-to-air and air-to-ground guided missiles, rockets, rocket pods and fire-and-forget ammunition. The Veilbhit-II can carry the Type 40 Mark IV Anti-Ship Missile, the Type 43 Anti-Ship Missile and the Miodóg Short-Range Surface-to-Air Missile, Mark III and IV, as well as other missiles and rockets.

Additionally, the Veilbhit-II can carry special devices for special purposes, for example pods for aerial reconnaissance, electronic warfare or targeting.

Avionics

Many of the avionic systems aboard the Veilbhit-II are simplified to allow for easy handling even by inexperienced pilots, including the throttle responding rapidly, and to be easier to maintain.

Triple-redundant, modular fly-by-wire controls steer the aircraft, dual-redundant digital databuses transfer data easily. Data about speed, course and position is provided by a gyro-based inertial guidance system and GPS, which are fed to the cockpit displays and a head-up-display. A gyro-based gunsight is placed in front of the pilot to allow him to aim his aircraft's unguided weapons even without assistance of his avionics.

A Radar Warning Receiver ensures, that the Veilbhit-II can detect, when there is a radar aiming at it, for example for searching, tracking or aiming, dispensers for chaff and flares allowing for the defence against such threats.

The Veilbhit-II is equipped with a multi-mode pulse Doppler radar, operating on the X-band, giving the Veilbhit-II capabilities to operate in all weather conditions, at day and by night, as well as the the capability to engage targets beyond its visual range.

Communications are handled via one transceiver for radio-communication, including ECM-resistance via frequency-hopping and encryption, which both make it considerably harder to disrupt communications between aircraft and control.

Variants

The Veilbhit-II Light Attack Aircraft can be delivered in two major variants: The Light Attack Aircraft and the Advanced Jet Trainer.

The Advanced Jet Trainer features backseat controls where the WSO would sit, it is just as capable in combat, if need should arise, is however incapable of aerial refuelling and has less options for armament as the instructor seat is no WSO-seat.

The Light Attack Aircraft is the main combat version, capable of using a wide array of weaponry and actually the thing, which was described this whole entry. Powerful electronics and systems where the flight instructor would sit allows for a WSO to be absent and the pilot to be alone in his plane.

A version fit for carrier-operations is planned as well.

History

Veilbhit-IIs of the 17th Air Combat Squadron under Major Faye Ainnir of the Tribe of Wicklow participated successfully in Operation Spartacus.

Starting in 2018, the RKA evaluated the Veilbhit-II, specifically for service with the Light Army Aviation Brigades, and contending with a number of both domestic and foreign designs as a replacement for the Kyrenaian Aircraft Factories KAF-9 Kaman Ground Attack Aircraft. The final judgement is still out.

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