Memo To Earth: RE: Cockpit Canopies And The Na'vi Stone Point Arrow Threat
We can protect the pilots if we try
DECLASSIFIED: BLOCKCHAIN DECRYPT: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
CC: BuWeap, BuFlight, XXXXXX
Subject: Rotary wing canopies
To whom it may concern:
This is the third time we have communicated the need for overhead and frontal ballistic protection of pilots in our rotary wing aircraft. Pilots in both the Scorpion Gunship and the SA-2 Samson system have repeatedly proven vulnerable to native arrow fire.
This problem was identified a decade ago in our post-action analysis but has not been addressed in current production runs of either platform. Pilots in billion-dollar weapons are being defeated with primitive weapons.
Rocks. They are using chipped rocks to defeat us.
We are supposed to be the technologically superior species. Surely we can do better than a plastic resin bubble canopy that cannot stop a simple flint-tipped arrow like one that our ancestors crafted by hand a million years ago.
If we can send a human to the Pandora moon light years from Terra, we should be able to defeat a Stone Age arrow.
First, the canopy should be made from high-impact materials, such as laminated glass, instead of plastic. There is really no excuse for canopies made from resin when we have had the technology to make transparent, yet protective, substances for centuries.
Although mass is always an important factor in procurement choices, the entire flight regiment agrees that the interstellar transportation costs saved by using plastic canopies is more than offset by the lethal threat of stone point arrows.
Granting that Na’vi arrows are roughly the same mass and length as a Roman ballista bolt, and fired from bows with between 150-300 kg of pull weight, perhaps twice the force of an English medieval longbow, they still do not approach the penetration power of a 20th Century 7.62mm round at the same range.
According to Jane’s Historical Small Arms Concordance, the muzzle energy of that ammunition was a hair under 780 mps. The human race could stop that threat on earth, using transparent materials, when our great-grandparents were not even pod-born yet.
The Resources Development Authority has no excuse for this failure to evolve our product.
I have now reviewed the recovered telemetry from five different rotary wing systems destroyed in recent combat with the Pandoran natives in two different climates.
Without exception, all encounters involve a Na’vi flyer shooting an arrow from directly in front of the cockpit at close range (a “deflection shot”) or, more commonly, from directly above, the blind spot of human pilots since 1914.
Arrows not only penetrate the plastic, low-mass cockpit windscreen like a hot vibroblade through bean-oil margarine, they actually seem directed by the shape of the canopy to impale pilots to their seat backs through the torso at a downward angle, causing instant death, or else total incapacity leading to crash and death.
We can patch the problem with a laminate layer locally manufactured and applied. Future shipments of aircraft platforms should have improved protection prior to interstellar conveyance.
The cost in grams, sent through interstellar space, of ballistic canopy protection, would be more than outweighed by the cost in resources, per human pilot, lost to a goddamn stone arrow point. It is just math.
This is material science, not rocket science. We seem to have figured out brain science, so when did we forget how to fix a 20th century problem?
Additionally, our team has identified a second issue with current rotary wing systems. They are rotary.
RDA products are the best in the galaxy, to be sure. Nevertheless, we can and should strive to improve at all times, for our stakeholders expect nothing less.
Threats are omnidirectional on Pandora. A combat flight system should be purpose-built to defend itself against attack from any direction, with enough human operators to maintain situational awareness against all threat vectors.
Gunners and ammunition carriers walking unsecured on the open ramp of a Valkyrie orbital shuttle, or fighting from open sandbag pits on top of same, have proven to be ineffective as field expedients in this combat environment.
We recommend a fixed-wing alternative. Our engineers have looked back through historical files for potential design paradigms. After our intensive review and analysis, we have chosen the following model for BuOrd/BuWeaps to consider in the next system planning and procurement cycle.
Note that the “B-17G Flying Fortress” was designed to deliver simple gravity bombs against industrial centers. Equipped with modern guided weapons instead, it should be formidable in the attack mode. We recommend switching to a twin-engine layout and the addition of flechette ammunition to increase defensive lethality against unarmored attackers in the close engagement envelope.
This ancient aircraft had almost the same cruising speed as the Scorpion or the Samson while offering far better all-around protection against threats. Furthermore, by flying in formation, the crews of these aircraft could support one another with deadly crossfires. We suggest that pesenting this threat to the Na’vi will draw out their winged riders in force, where they can be attrited by the gunners, who should have the advantage of fighting from behind armored cockpit glass.
To be sure, some of the new platforms will be lost in combet, too. However, we should always strive to achieve acceptable loss ratios, and the current loss ratio is simply unacceptable.
Na’vi have not even developed radar, but they still enjoy air superiority. It is imperative that we change this.
On that note: please quit sending any and all MANPADS to Pandora.
Just stop. Please.
Per our previous advice to Corporate and BuOrd on this topic, we once again stress that the decision to send MANPADS to Pandora was made without due consideration for local conditions.
Let us be blunt now: this was dumb.
Because the Na’vi and their mounts are flesh creatures with negligible radar cross-sections, shoulder-fired surface-to-air munitions must use some other means of targeting them. As native mounts and riders are capable of withstanding tremendous G-forces, they can not only out-maneuver all of our mechanical aircraft, but also dodge the laser and heat-guided munitions, too.
MANPADS simply do not work on Pandoran fighters.
Worse, the Na’vi are the only ones who benefit at all from the presence of these weapons on Pandora. These weapons were designed to destroy systems exactly like our aircraft, so natives have already learned to exploit them against us.
Captured MANPADS are used to effect immediately upon capture. Stop sending weapons that are only ever useful to the natives against our own aircraft.
Save that reaction mass and the dollar costs of interstellar shipment for a new B-17G “Flying Fortress” fleet.
Authorize an immediate lamination project using in-house resources to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the stone point arrow threat. These are our recommendations.
Pilots are increasingly difficult to hire, and require ever-higher bonuses to fly combat missions, because they are unprotected in our aircraft. We can protect them if we try. Already there are ways we can do better and extract greater costs from the enemy for every aircraft destroyed.
We can win the skies of Pandora if we try. First, we have to try.
Polemology Positions is a reader-supported publication. Subscribe to support my work
Shhh! Don't help the humans!