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LockMart, EADS team up for tanker mission

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posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 11:20 AM
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So this quietly happened.


Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Airbus have signed an agreement to jointly explore opportunities to meet the growing demand for aerial refueling for U.S. defense customers.

The companies will seek to provide aerial-refueling services to address any identified capacity shortfall and to meet requirements for the next generation of tankers capable of operating in the challenging environments of future battlespace.
...
The companies are taking a cooperative approach, with the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT) at its heart, to examine a broad spectrum of opportunities. These may range from ways to support critical near-term air-refueling needs, such as a fee-for-service structure to conceptualizing the tanker of the future.



Looks like the next gen tanker will see some EADS/LM cooperation, which makes some sense. Far more interesting is the potential for an independent tanker fleet on-call when needed. The Pentagon already outsources many refueling missions to private firms, Omega being the largest and most frequent. While I'm pretty sure this is unsolicited, there is also substantial, multi-decade push from within the USAF to go this route. Still trying to convince the GAO.


Bonus points for an obligatory subtle jab at Boeing: "The U.S. Air Force deserves the best aerial-refueling technology and performance available under the sun and this great industry team, Lockheed Martin and Airbus, will offer exactly that," said Tom Enders, Airbus CEO.




posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 11:41 AM
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a reply to: RadioRobert


I am curious what sort of issues could occur with a private tanker force in an all out war? I mean I would assume that none of the pilots or aircraft involved would have any evasive or defensive capabilities.

The strange thing about the US tanker force is that even though currently out dated seems to be far and away the best tanker force in the world.

I suppose with China, for instance, could force any aircraft in their country to do whatever they will it to do on pain of death to the "owners" if they do not capitulate. So maybe that is where their possible success in that small area of air combat would be made up for them?

I have no idea.

edit on 4-12-2018 by Fools because: .



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 12:21 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

Wonder if it will have traditional flaps.



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 01:28 PM
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a reply to: Fools

Well, ideally, you keep the tankers away from danger. I'd imagine to start, commercial tanker ops would be restricted to CONUS, Alaska, Hawaii, and Western Europe. You'd still have the USAF tanker force for danger areas. They'd probably be part of the Civil Reserve fleet in an emergency. It lets you deploy your guys to conflict areas for combat refueling while the commercial fleet refuels aircraft in transit or in training back home.
It presents interesting legal problems, even if bullets aren't flying. Like do you grant them civil liability immunity or insure them through the government? Can you convince Congress/courts this is necessary and the cheapest way to provide the capability, or can you get a waiver?



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 03:55 PM
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If it gets the green light they could have initial airframes ready to go in about 18-24 months I reckon. As long as they dont go stupid on customization (who am I kidding, of course they will!). The basic KC-30 has already had all envelope clearances and quite a few of the current USAF fleet has already been cleared due to the work of the RAF, RAAF etc. So it would be ready to tank C-17, F-16, F-35, FA-18's both legacy and SH as well as a host of others from day one.



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 04:50 PM
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a reply to: thebozeian

If it's a DoD owned tanker the KC-30 will need a redesign before it will be accepted into service.



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 05:00 PM
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a reply to: Fools

The primary mission for Omega right now is support operations in CONUS. You see them a lot out west over the ranges. At one point the aircraft they operated didn't have the extra fuel tanks that military tankers have, so could only use the standard 707 fuel load. That may have changed, but I don't know.

In a mixed force, if the balance stays with a heavy military force, a privately owned company would most likely be used as ferry tankers to get forces where needed, and freeing up military tankers to operate closer to the combat theater.



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 06:56 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

It wouldn't be a DOD acquisition or lease. It'd be a "simple" contract for service. There was supposed to be a pilot program a few years back, but it didn't get funded. It's a big upfront cost so the contractor(s) can establish ops. This appears to be a signal they want a RFP or just an unsolicited proposal. Lots of pros and cons on both sides of the argu for this approach. Be interesting to see how/if this develops.



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 08:30 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58
I was under the impression that it would be a private contract as per RR's suggestion. But it does beg the question that if the only real difference is whether it is privately contracted versus "owned' by the DoD for essentially exactly the same role, and given the KC-30 serves in front line NATO/Allied defence services then what exactly is the US military reinventing the design wheel for? I can understand things like Comms and defensive aids and even there those same in service KC-30 have interoperated with US aircraft anyway, but the rest seems like an unnecessary step.

Regardless it will be interesting to see some harder data and what size force they are looking at, 25-50 would seem a decent number and would help lower costs for the worldwide KC-30 fleet. It would also free up the legacy KC-135/KC-10 force as well as allow better deployment of the eventual 767 force.



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 09:11 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

That's one option being looked at. I don't see it going anywhere serious. The Pentagon has certain missions they're not going to give up, even if they fight against them tooth and nail. They'll talk a good game, and Omega might even end up getting a few, but that will be the end of it.
edit on 12/4/2018 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 09:31 PM
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a reply to: thebozeian

If it goes anywhere, which I seriously doubt, the Pentagon could still make them change some things on it to meet their requirements. It wouldn't be the first time I've seen them do something like that.



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 11:10 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

That's at complete odds with the fact the DSB and portions of the USAF have begged for such an arrangement for CONUS ops for more than a decade. We've already seen the cost savings from FFS contracts for DACT, EW platforms/training, AIC, cruse-missile emulation, etc.

The far bigger questions are the legal questions and the big upfront money (along with cancellation fees in case Congress gets cold feet). Plus it'd no doubt take money away from the "stealth" tanker development.

So, no. None or the options are guaranteed to happen, but if they pass on a fee-for-service arrangement it won't be because the Air Force is afraid of losing the mission.



posted on Dec, 4 2018 @ 11:46 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

They've talked the talk on a number of things that never happened. How many times has someone begged for something only for them to find a way to keep it from happening. Barring a major change, I don't see the leadership letting it happen beyond what Omega currently does.



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