Type:special operations transport studies
Significant date: 1991
In 1991, Burt Rutan studied a series of transport proposals under contract with LTV Aircraft Products Group of Dallas, Texas (LTV) for the U.S. Army's SOFTA (Special Operations Forces Transport Aircraft) program. After SOFA, ATT and ATTT (AT3) this program was the latest in a series of special operations transport programs initiated by the Air Force and the Army. L.T.V.'s involvement in the program is kind of surprising since at that time the company had ceased working as a main contractor for a few years and was now known mainly as a subcontractor, notably as the airframe builder for Northrop's B-2 bomber. However, the Vought archives indicate that the company was involved as early as 1987 in the special ops transport studies, working on the SOFA and ATT requirements.
SOFTA called for an aircraft with the capability to penetrate into unfriendly territory in a clandestine manner and to inﬁltrate/exﬁltrate/resupply Special Forces teams or equipment at an unprepared site. Low observability was "desired" and payload should amount to 5,000 pounds, consisting of 14 fully-equipped troops or other small package size containers."The earliest studies conducted circa 1990 attempted to evaluate the potential of an upgraded C-142 design to meet the SOFTA requirement. On May 23, 1991, LTV contracted with Scaled Composites to prepare a preliminary design study and a prototyping plan for a proposed Special Operations Forces Transport Aircraft (SOFTA). Of interest is the fact that Burt Rutan had worked on LTV's original XC-142 back in 1965, and one can imagine that the new challenge of working from that initial work and adding his acquired expertise to it must have been particularly interesting to him.
All designs done by Scaled for LTV for the SOFTA requirement carried the name TIDDS (obviously the inhouse name for the program) and were signed by Burt Rutan himself. The first three months’ activity for the design study consisted of development of conﬁgurations that could satisfy the mission requirements. This portion of the study was intended to allow the maximum freedom to explore new methods to meet the mission. Working with a minimum number of constraints, a large variety of configurations were explored. Twelve concepts were presented by Scaled during a mid-term presentation at LTV on 1 August 1991. Those preliminary configurations included the following:
Separate pages for each of these designs will be created soon. One can assume that the missing designations (Models 210, 211, 214, 221) might have been allocated by Rutan to studies he decided not to submit to LTV for various reasons (not practical, not quite compliant to the requirements, etc.)..
On 7 August 1991, LTV provided a downselect to six of the twelve conﬁgurations. Scaled responded with a second preliminary design study report including further refinement and performance estimates on the Models 209, 213, 215, 216, 220 and 223. The presentation of those six conﬁgurations, including refined performance and weight estimates was provided in a report to LTV on 27 August 1991. Finally, on 16 September 1991, LTV requested that the remaining portion of the design study consider only Models 215, 220 and 223.. Interestingly, all the Scaled reports pertaining to SOFTA appear in the Vought Archive with the title "Design study for the XC-142 for Special Operations Forces", possibly as a decoy to conceal the nature of their contents.
Although LTV singled out three designs and Scaled fixed a precise calendar for the rapid prototyping and delivery of a demonstrator there is no guarantee that a demonstrator was actually built, and if it was, there is no telling which of the three design was chosen. However, it is believed that there is a definite connection between SOFTA and the DoD's SENIOR CITIZEN program, and if so, the Model 223 flying wing seems the most likely candidate. Of interest is the fact that both "Senior Citizen" and Scaled Composites have the initials "S. C.", and that several details seem to coincide, but this is all speculation and there is no actual evidence that the SENIOR CITIZEN prototype (if any) was the same as the Scaled/LTV SOFTA prototype (if built).
Population: one demonstrator possibly built, model unknown
The capability to penetrate unfriendly territory in a clandestine manner and to infiltrate/exfiltrate/resupply Special Forces teams or equipment at an unprepared site.
Penetrate 1000 NM into unfriendly territory (no payload) and exfiltrate clandestinely an Army Special Forces “A” Team of 12 personnel and 500 pounds of equipment, 4,500 total payload, and return 1000 NM to the Forward Operating Location.
In all cases, the aircraft are assumed to be sized to the mid-mission hover requirement.
*other document states "5,000 pounds (14 fully-equipped troops or other small package size containers)".
These documents can be found in the LTV archives at the University of Texas in Dallas.
Although the author of this site is the one who found out about the above reports, he extends his deepest gratitude to sublight, who made it possible for these designs to see the light of day.