The Scaled Composites ARES, the mini A-10 that never was that played the part of the secret Me 263 jet in the movie Iron Eagle III

USAF Avionics Technician explains why Scaled Composites ARES was like a mini A-10 Warthog

By Dario Leone
Apr 11 2024
Share this article

The Scaled Composites ARES

Agile Responsive Effective Support (ARES) is a full-scale proof-of-concept demonstrator that was developed as a concept in support of a US Army request for a Low Cost Battlefield Attack Aircraft (LCBAA). The LCBAA design goals were low-altitude, anti-tank, battlefield support with long endurance, and capable of operating outside of improved airfields environment.

ARES has flown more than 430 hours, and demonstrated all of its design performance and handling qualities goals, including departure-free handling at full aft stick. During November of 1991, tests of the GAU-12/U gun system installed in ARES were performed, with outstanding results.

A-10 Model
This model is available from AirModels! CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

A mini A-10

‘Think of it as a mini A-10,’ says Damien Leimbach, former US Air Force (USAF) Avionics Technician on Quora.

‘It’s a single seat, single engine, canard style Close Air Support aircraft with an internal 25mm Gatling gun.

‘The engine and single intake is mounted on the opposite side of the plane from the gun to balance it out and prevent the engine from ingesting propellant gasses from the gun.

‘It’s fast, cheap to operate and easy to build. Most importantly, it has the ONE THING troops want and that the potential replacements for the A-10 lack.

A big ass gun.’

The Scaled Composites ARES, the mini A-10 that never was that played the part of the secret Me 263 jet in the movie Iron Eagle III

Movie buffs may also remember the ARES in its role as the secret Me 263 jet in the screen classic Iron Eagle III. After the appearance in the movie, the aircraft has become a commercially available research test bed. The aircraft was stored in December 2000 at the Mojave Spaceport until Scaled Composites became a Northrop Grumman subsidiary and flown again on Mar. 7, 2008.

As many off the shelf components as possible

Leimbach explains:

‘It was designed from the start to use as many off the shelf components as possible. The jet engine is used in Cessna Citations. The hydraulics are from a Piper Malibu. The data bus is from an F-16. The gun is the GE GAU-12, already used in [AV-8B] Harriers and [as a lighter four-barrel cannon designated GAU-22/A] F-35’s. It has pylons to carry things like small diameter bombs, Hydra rockets, and Hellfires if upgraded with a targeting pod. For air to air it can also carry Sidewinders and Stingers.

A-10 model
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. A-10C Thunderbolt II 127th W, 107th FS Red Devils, MI/81-994 / 100th Anniversary, 2017

‘The plane can withstand 8 G’s, and because it is so lightweight it has a range of 1200 miles.’

Leimbach concludes:

‘It has a combat radius of over 600 miles, and for reference the A-10’s is 250. Although I will concede that the A-10 carries a lot more than the Ares.

‘But just think about flooding the skies with these. What a sight.’

In the following video legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan reveals the secrets of ARES.

Photo credit: Resplendent via Wikipedia


Share this article

Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
Share this article


Share this article
Back to top
My Agile Privacy
This website uses technical and profiling cookies. Clicking on "Accept" authorises all profiling cookies. Clicking on "Refuse" or the X will refuse all profiling cookies. By clicking on "Customise" you can select which profiling cookies to activate. In addition, this site installs Google Analytics in version 4 (GA4) with anonymous data transmission via proxy. By giving your consent, the data will be sent anonymously, thus protecting your privacy. We and our selected ad partners can store and/or access information on your device, such as cookies, unique identifiers, browsing data. You can always choose the specific purposes related to profiling by accessing the advertising preferences panel, and you can always withdraw your consent at any time by clicking on "Manage consent" at the bottom of the page.

List of some possible advertising permissions:

You can consult: our list of advertising partners, the Cookie Policy and the Privacy Policy.
Warning: some page functionalities could not work due to your privacy choices