Flightline: Flights of Fantasy #5
"Airwolf" was an advanced prototype helicopter developed by the CIA for classified missions.
The idea behind the Airwolf was simple: develop a cutting edge helicopter that could blend in with civilian types, but was capable of destroying targets or obtain intelligence as needed. The aircraft, based on a Bell 222, appeared normal, but its skin was armored against small arms as well as being radar absorbent. The landing gear sponsons concealed multiple heavy-caliber automatic guns, and a retractable, rotatable pod allowed the launch of a variety of air-to-surface and air-to-air ordnance. Airwolf was equipped with a variety of defensive systems, including chaff and flare launchers, a radar/radio jammer, an IR suppressor, and quieting measures on the rotors. The aircraft was able to exceed Mach one thanks to additional turbojet engines as well as an advanced rotor, and was able to achieve a ceiling in excess of 85,000 feet with pressurization. To allow long deployments, the helicopter was fitted with an aerial refueling probe.
Airwolf's blueprints. | Diagram: The Firm
Schematics of Airwolf. | Illustration: The Firm
Airwolf Design Specification
Patch worn by the Airwolf's crew. | Image: The Firm
Helmets worn by the Airwolf's crew included advanced eye-tracking and heads-up-display technology, allowing the aircrew to lock on to targets simply by looking at them.
The Airwolf prototype was stolen by its creator during a live-fire exercise, killing a US senator and injuring the deputy director of "The Firm", the division of the CIA responsible for creating Airwolf. The helicopter was flown to Libya, where it was then flown in attacks against US interests, including the sinking of an American destroyer, in exchange for allowing Airwolf to remain in the country. In response, The Firm recruits the former test pilot of Airwolf, a former Army pilot, to be infiltrated into Libya to recover the helicopter and bring its creator to justice. The prototype was successfully retrieved, though the designer was killed, and the pilot secreted Airwolf in a secret location, holding it hostage in order to force The Firm to locate and return the pilot's brother, who had gone MIA in Vietnam. The Firm liaises with the pilot to continue to fly Airwolf in missions of national interest while the search continues, shielding the Airwolf against other government agencies and other adversaries. A second prototype, known as Airwolf II or Redwolf, was constructed by The Firm, but it was stolen by its creator and subsequently destroyed by Airwolf.
Airwolf in flight over a desert. | Photo: The Firm
Head on photo of Airwolf. | Photo: The Firm
Airwolf with guns extended and missile pod in firing position. | Photo: The Firm
Airwolf in its Lair, a secret cave used to hide the chopper between missions. | Photo: The Firm