In the wake of 11 September, Colorado-based Aviation Technology Group has offered a single-seat version of its Javelin business jet as a low-cost air defence aircraft.

Tentatively known as the Homeland Defense Interceptor, it will be capable of all-weather, day/night, intercept, CAP and surveillance missions.

In designing the Javelin, the company combined a state-of-the-art glass cockpit, and wide-fan sweep technology engines in a two-seat executive jet. It offered outstanding performance and ‘jet-prestige' with the low $1.88 million purchase price and running costs of a typical single-engined turboprop.

The same characteristics make the design ideally suited to form the basis of a low-cost fighter.

While the US has always been well-equipped to defend against conventional military air threats, the new threat posed by suicide terrorists has strained existing air defence assets.


Acquiring and deploying a dedicated low-cost home defense interceptor (HDI) would reduce the demands on the USAF's over-stretched Boeing F-15 and Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter units, extending the life, delaying the replacement cost of these expensive assets and freeing them to accomplish their primary military missions.

There is no requirement for an HDI to have air-to-ground capability, nor does it require armour, self-sealing fuel tanks, defensive counter-measures, EMP protection, or 9g agility, which greatly reduces size, weight, cost and development time.

The Aviation Technology Group is actively seeking some $20 million of US Government funding to demonstrate and evaluate its HDI concept.

Because development of the Javelin has already reached an advanced stage, and because the aircraft uses proven materials and manufacturing processes, the Aviation Technology Group promises a short and low-risk development cycle. Initial operating capability (IOC) with the USAF and Air National Guard could be achieved extremely quickly.

The proposed Javelin-based HDI will cost $4.5 million, compared with the $26.9 million price tag of the F-16C, and will cost $700 per hour to operate, compared with $3,600 per hour for the F-16C.

Because it is based on a civil aircraft, using commercial off-the-shelf equipment and avionics, the HDI will enjoy the economy and reliability of a light business jet and will be highly supportable at commercial airports, making it simple and cheap to deploy.


At the same time the aircraft will offer a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 and climbs at a respectable 36,000ft/min (183m/s), reaching a ceiling of 51,000ft (15,500m). The aircraft has nearly three times the range of the F-16C, at 1,500nm (2,800km), and will be capable of refuelling in flight.

The aircraft will be fitted with radar, a FLIR or IRST, JTIDS data link, secure radios and advanced IFF, and will be armed with a single 7.62mm mini-gun and two IR-homing air-to-air missiles.

The aircraft is envisaged as being powered by a pair of GE J-85 or afterburning Williams International FJ44 engines, with 8,000lb (36kN) of thrust, giving a thrust-to-weight ratio of more than 1:1.

Lt Gen Harley Hughes, former operations deputy to the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that the HDI "is a brilliant solution to the airborne aspect of homeland defense.

"The $4.5 million HDI is an effective force-multiplier, freeing the F-16 for its military mission and permitting extension of its useful life at a fraction of its replacement cost."

The company is also offering a UAV/UCAV derivative of the Javelin.

Source: Flight Daily News