View Full Version : SABA Proposal

Double Zero
8th Aug 2008, 16:46
Does anyone remember the SABA - Small Agile Battlefield Aircraft - proposed by BAe Kingston in the late 1980's ?

It was a small, canard design, with a ( hopefully ) powerful pusher turboprop, and a computer guided 360 degree-ish ? cannon turret underneath, + pylon carried stores - a sort of poor man's / thinking man's version of an A-10, depending on one's point of view.

It might be useful in the wars we are fighting right now, or would it be easy meat for anyone with a Stinger or even RPG ?

The thing was received very poorly at Dunsfold at the time as a paper-aeroplane sop, and as far as I know it never got near the cutting metal stage.

BAe had already moved the exportable Hawk production line to Wart On to keep it afloat despite their miserable products -( seen any Warton hardware sold successfully to the USA ? both Harrier & Hawk did...) , and were obviously planning to close Kingston & Dunsfold ASAP, quite seriously through nothing other than northern bias ( check out the directors of the time, and if you can, who was sleeping with who ).

I just exchanged comments with a chap in the front line who says they need an aircraft capable of precision support, closer and slower than a Harrier, but not as vulnerable to RPG's as an Appache - anyone have any clues if SABA would have been a good idea ?

Personally I'd think while agile and with 'intelligent' aiming systems, it would still have been too vulnerable - better off buying A-10's & fitting decent systems, as the USAF have found !

Did it have any merit, or was it indeed as most of us at the time thought, a fanciful sop to make out investment in Dunsfold / Kingston was still happening ?

8th Aug 2008, 18:26
I remember it; they suggested it would be ideal for 'reserve' squadrons ie trying to re-invent R Aux AF as it's systems weren't as complicated as other modern combat aircraft.

Double Zero
8th Aug 2008, 18:39

That may well be the case given daft internal politics in any organisation, but I doubt it would have been that 'simple' to work on, given the sensors & turret guidance, let alone anything carried on the pylons.

8th Aug 2008, 23:50
There were two propeller and three jet versions proposed. Three view drawings can be found at:
BAE 'SABA', page 1 (http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread186160/pg1)

9th Aug 2008, 00:06
More a helicopter (TONAL) rival. How useful in Helmand?

Double Zero
9th Aug 2008, 03:03

That's exactly what I was asking; an aircraft near the speed of an Appache would be shot out of the sky before demonstating it's prowess, while anything with the speed of a Harrier will need designated targets ( and guns ) - not been on a battlefield but I think I get the gist...how would it compare against a modern A-10 ?

It also strikes me such an aircraft could probably operate from carriers...

9th Aug 2008, 16:26
Warton aircraft sold to the USA? Let me think....
How about the B57 CANBERRA. Does that count?

Double Zero
9th Aug 2008, 20:02
No, it doesn't count in my book; hardlytaken on with relish by the USAF, and still with engines spaced as the new-fangled jet things might not work...

Do you call the Hawk ( & Harrier ) a Warton product ?

10th Aug 2008, 00:40
Yeah I suppose a total build quantity of 403 B57s isn't all that enthusiastic in the USAF scheme of things but its still a respectable number.

Warton turned you down for a job or are you just being a 'little southener'?

Just interested in the origin of your anti Warton attitude

Double Zero
10th Aug 2008, 06:52
I'm anti-Wart On because of their attitude; I wouldn't apply for a job with them if it was the last on the planet...

They had to 'steal' the Hawk to stay afloat, and the Tornado was a lemon for ground attack from day 1 -' excuse me while I fly directly down your runway' by WW2 standards, while the F2 & F3 where embarrassed by airliners overtaking them, not to mention the Blue Circle radar...

The main problem was the prevailing attitude, though by the law of averages there must be some decent people there, it's just that they don't shout the loudest - and having to go back to the WW2 specified Canberra doesn't exactly help your case.

BTW I saw some of the Warton VSTOL / USTOL proposals, such as vectoring entire engines on wingtips, and thought it must have been an April 1st job !

So, no I haven't applied for a job there, but did fly in ( as a passenger, I'm a technical photographer ) a few times when coming back south from test ranges - where BTW JP233 was a standing joke as it barely scuffed the target runway - and we were met with nothing but rude arrogant know-nothings, from gate guards to crew-chiefs.

Maybe I was unlucky, but it was the same every time on the 'phone to the land of Whippet-botherers...

Now can we get back to SABA please ?

12th Aug 2008, 07:42
A guy called Luscombe proposed a similar concept for his 'Vitality' series of microlights back in about '82. Last I heard he was operating from Lympne, but obviously he can't be there now!!