The Corvus was originally built to provide close air support, destroying armour and artillery while allies on the ground advanced. Given the new emphasis on countering insurgency, the Corvus has been redeployed against more elusive targets: arms suppliers, training camps, rogue warlords and their closest aides.
- As a dedicated ground attack aircraft, the Corvus sacrifices speed for firepower and resilience. The main wing is built around internal reinforcing spars that run straight between the tips and the twin booms help strengthen the tailplane. The long and narrow air intakes are encased in a wedge that shields them from ground fire and offers further reinforcement. The heavily armoured fuselage contains the cockpit, engines, targeting systems, main gun and ammunition hopper. Compared to most jet aircraft, the Corvus has a poor top speed, rate of climb and service ceiling, but these are less important when attacking targets on the ground.
- The semi-retractable undercarriage is built to take hard landings on rougher frontline airstrips that may be attacked themselves. The front wheel is beneath the cockpit and the main wheels are in the underwing booms. The raised air intakes are less likely to ingest ground debris and the high wings reduce the risk of weapons striking obstacles.
- A large heat suppressor helps mask jet exhaust; the twin booms and tailplane also shield it from some angles. The booms are armed with flares and chaff as a defence against missiles. These were built to counter advanced weapons and make the Corvus almost immune to the cruder substitutes more often carried by insurgents.
- The main missile armament is carried on six underwing hardpoints. These were originally armed with specialised warheads, but against less advanced opponents smaller, cheaper types suffice. The six pods shown here are packed with light unguided rockets; losses in power and accuracy are countered through sheer volume of fire. The high wing puts them closer to the pilot’s eye level so aiming feels more natural and small corrections can be easily made.
- The Corvus is perhaps best known for its cannon armament. The standard 30mm is useful against mobile targets due to its high rate of fire. The less common 50mm has a lower rate of fire but longer range and hitting power, making it more effective against well defended static emplacements. Both have also seen some use against slower kinds of aircraft.