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Air Force may pursue stealthy tanker for KC-Z

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posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 03:17 PM
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Now I could swear that I've heard this somewhere on here from a couple of people in the last couple years. The Air Force may skip the KC-Y program, and go straight to the KC-Z program, and look at a stealthy, penetrating platform, possibly a flying wing design. That would allow the tanker to go in with strike packages, into areas current tankers wouldn't survive and give more range to inbound and outbound aircraft.

A study, to begin this year, is looking at many ways to reduce signature, as well as increasing autonomy. It may have a non-boom style refueling system, as well as a reduced crew. They're looking at possibly fielding the aircraft in the 2030-35 timeframe.


NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Air Force’s future KC-Z tanker could usher in a massive technological leap forward, with autonomy, low observability and flying wing designs possibly playing a role in the program.

As enemy air defenses improve, the Air Force may need a penetrating aerial refueling tanker that can move forward in conjunction with stealthy fifth-generation aircraft like the F-22 and F-35, Air Mobility Command head Gen. Carlton Everhart told reporters Tuesday.

A study, slated to begin this year, will help the service decide the path forward, but Everhart said officials likely will skip past a KC-Y competition, either folding in modifications to the KC-46A or directly transitioning to the KC-Z.

“Once that study is done, then we’ll start programming, and we’re looking around the 2030 to 2035 area in the budget where it gains us the opportunity to be able to procure a new follow-on tanker,” he said during a round-table discussion at the Air Force Association conference.

www.defensenews.com...




posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 03:34 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Weren't we talking about this some time ago?

I feel like I got deja vu.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 03:37 PM
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a reply to: grey580

It was rumor for a long time. They just confirmed they were looking at it.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 03:48 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

ahh..

I wonder if it will look like this.




posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 03:56 PM
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"A non-boom refueling system" What? Probe and drogue? Can Air Force aircraft do probe and drogue refueling? It might help give the Hornets and F-35 some legs as well.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 04:25 PM
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a reply to: JIMC5499

Fighters can be modified to. They're looking mostly at this going in with TacAir. A large aircraft can hit a -46 well outside the threat area.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 04:25 PM
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Sounds fantastic but:

The Pentagon and our prime contractors have demonstrated the complete inability to deliver such a futuristic weapons system On time and on budget.

Even the existing KC-46 tanker system which is really an evolutionary project had a debacle procurement process and is late.

R&D is risky and while worthy of the risk the pentagon with its existing procurement systems does not seem up to the task to provide evolutionary leaps.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 04:26 PM
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a reply to: FredT

That's one reason they're looking at 15-20 years lead time. That'll make 10 before first flight minimum.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 05:34 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

So.....stealth tanker project going gray/white?

I like this quote, at the bottom of the FlightGlobal article.


Science and technology (S&T) funding for KC-Z has already been covered under the KC-46 programme, Everhart says.

“We gleaned some... funding off the KC-46 to help evolve the next programme,” he says. “S&T – we’ve already paid for it, it’s already been done.”


USAF commander wants technological 'leap' to KC-Z tanker



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 06:42 PM
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a reply to: Northernhollow

They finally solved some of the issues.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 06:43 PM
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a reply to: Northernhollow

Not sure what payload capability they are looking for but I think there may be a stealthy C130 size transport out there already doing SOF work. Something like that could be used as a starting point for a Z tanker.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 07:01 PM
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In the UAS Flight Plan PDF it mentions the AMC-X program and shows several sub models of a particular flying wing design very similar to the pic above by Grey580. Here is a link but you can easily find the PDF with a basic google search. UAS Flight Plan 2009-2047



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 08:33 PM
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a reply to: Sammamishman

The number of black/gray projects that are out there blows my mind. Where is all the hangar space?

Especially for the larger, non-fighter sized aircraft.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 08:42 PM
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a reply to: Northernhollow

Most are built in small numbers. Anywhere from 5-10 or even fewer. There's a lot of hangar space out there that people don't realize.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 08:51 PM
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a reply to: Northernhollow

There are a few places around with hanger space that I can think of that could hide something like that. Both West and East Coast.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 10:23 PM
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a reply to: Sammamishman

Always thought Holloman was interesting. Remote, lots of hangar space + 96th TG. Once home to F-117s.

Putting 2+2 together here, pure speculation.

krqe.com...

"They will be replaced by two F-16 training squadrons which will arrive in April."

That's an awful lot of hangar space suitable for F-117s and F-22s to go to just F-16s. Sounds familiar... coughA7cough

A couple of months after the F22 left and not too far from Holloman...

theaviationist.com...


edit on 194Tuesdaypm2016-09-20T22:40:06-05:00kTue20161010 by BlackDog10 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 10:38 PM
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a reply to: BlackDog10

It's also not the best place to hide a deep black project as it's home to a permanent Luftwaffe base.



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 10:43 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Possibly, does seem interesting though. It can't be that deep black if it's been flying around in daytime in view of photographers...

From the sounds of it, it doesn't sound so permanent

"German aircrews come to Holloman for approximately three weeks for advanced tactical training and then return to Germany. "

"The German Air Force also conducts a Fighter Weapons Instructor Course for the Tornado. Aircrews for this course come to Holloman for about six months."

"In March 2013, it was announced that German Air Force units at Fort Bliss will transfer to Holloman later that same year. In 2015, due to funding constraints on the planned new facilities in Europe, the German Air Force Air Defense school will stay open at Fort Bliss until 2020."

Also this

www.alamogordonews.com...


Not only that but they were already in close to proximity to F117s and F22s which still have many classified aspects.

edit on 200Tuesdaypm2016-09-20T22:49:00-05:00kTue20161010 by BlackDog10 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 10:57 PM
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a reply to: BlackDog10

It's the same arrangement they have at Luke, Mountain Home and other bases. They have aircraft stationed there along with crews to maintain them and do other work. The crews that are training rotate to the base and meet the aircraft there or fly a few other aircraft in.

As for the F-117 and F-22 there's a huge difference between having classified portions and being black. By the time the Nighthawks were there, they were fairly well known and were even allowing looks at their exhaust and top at static displays. There's a huge difference between that and, "what stealth tanker".



posted on Sep, 20 2016 @ 11:06 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

I wasn't suggesting a stealth tanker. Whatever was photographed in amarillo. They would possibly have had the opportunity to perform SIGINT on F117s and F22s so obviously there are some agreements in place about this sort of stuff.
edit on 213Tuesdaypm2016-09-20T23:07:07-05:00kTue20161110 by BlackDog10 because: (no reason given)



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