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Air Force close to deciding on commercial tankers

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posted on Mar, 5 2020 @ 09:58 PM
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The Air Force is expected to announce by the end of the month if it will go forward with a commercial refueling contract. Fourteen companies have expressed interest, and it's expected that they could reach IOC within a year of going forward. If it happens, the commercial tankers will be used for CONUS only missions, which will free up tankers for overseas missions. AMC estimates that the force is currently short 23-28 aircraft a day, for non-warfighting missions.

Currently, the Air Force sees a need for 6,000 hours of refueling time a year. Omega is currently the only company that has a boom equipped tanker. It's undergoing modification and inspections after being received from the Netherlands. Several companies have expressed interest in getting boom equipped A330MRTT airframes, as well as converting existing aircraft, like the 767.

www.defensenews.com...




posted on Mar, 5 2020 @ 10:20 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Hope it happens, personally. With the way they've saved metric tons of cash by outsourcing dissimilar ADAIR should make this a no-brainer, but it could become a political hot-potato on the Hill.



posted on Mar, 5 2020 @ 10:33 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

I think that's going to be the sticking point.



posted on Mar, 5 2020 @ 10:53 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
The Air Force is expected to announce by the end of the month if it will go forward with a commercial refueling contract. Fourteen companies have expressed interest, and it's expected that they could reach IOC within a year of going forward. If it happens, the commercial tankers will be used for CONUS only missions, which will free up tankers for overseas missions. AMC estimates that the force is currently short 23-28 aircraft a day, for non-warfighting missions.

Currently, the Air Force sees a need for 6,000 hours of refueling time a year. Omega is currently the only company that has a boom equipped tanker. It's undergoing modification and inspections after being received from the Netherlands. Several companies have expressed interest in getting boom equipped A330MRTT airframes, as well as converting existing aircraft, like the 767.

www.defensenews.com...


So Boeing has been fiddle-farting around for more than what? fifteen years, trying to convert an existing airframe to do the tanker mission and the rest of the industry says they can do the job in 1 year, if they are given the go-ahead.

If it's a Boeing, it aint going.



posted on Mar, 5 2020 @ 11:07 PM
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a reply to: 1947boomer

The rest of the industry isn't converting aircraft to military standards. These will be straight conversions, without all the extra military gear, such as RWR, triple wiring, e.t.c. These aircraft won't leave CONUS. It's a hell of a lot easier to convert something without adding the military requirements than it is with them.



posted on Mar, 5 2020 @ 11:22 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Would they give a serious look at the KC-10's if the USAF retires them?

If they keep them in the CONUS and don't need them up to the same war fighter standards, there are plenty of airframes that they could convert.

It a smart move IMHO but thats why I'm skeptical they will be this smart LOL



posted on Mar, 6 2020 @ 12:16 AM
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Not sure what the big deal is to be honest. We out source everything. Re-fueling seems like a no brainer. It's the only way to progress technology and efficiency. Bet they figure out a way to save costs and transfer that efficiency to tax payers and more loot for themselves within a couple years. What about drone refueling aircraft. No pilot needed. They could even drop in the ocean or land on a carrier. Re-fill it and send out again.



posted on Mar, 6 2020 @ 01:08 AM
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So Boeing has been fiddle-farting around for more than what? fifteen years, trying to convert an existing airframe to do the tanker mission and the rest of the industry says they can do the job in 1 year, if they are given the go-ahead.

If it's a Boeing, it aint going.

sadly this kind of thinking is standard to military equipment , development and procurement in all areas and branches.

two examples I have are this

one... the replacement for the m-16 (now known as the m-4)

back in the late 80s the military was trying to come up with a replacement for the m-16
the project went by ACR (advanced combat rifle) .
it had other names as many sub types were tinkered with (ex xm-8 ).
but in all they fiddle pucked around for over 20 years and who knows how many millions of taxpayer dollars with no satisfactory weapon made.
hell even today they dont have a replacement to the m-16 but with some "upgrades" now called the M-4.

but back in the early 2000s they took the specs the US military claimed they wanted and within a year (no joke) came up with the HK 416

it was based on the m-16, used alot of standard parts, was ambidextrous, and (there is a great video on it) unlike the m-16 was dropped in the mud/water/ect , shook a few times and fired flawlessly.

it was everything the military claimed they wanted but could not accomplish in their ACR program.

but did they just pay the licencing fee and go on?

oh hell no... every excuse in the book from "had not gone though the US military development/testing process" to "not made in USA"

two.... dragon skin body armor

the story is almost identical (except they military already had in service with no program for upgrade) situation when "dragon skin" body armor was demonstrated (great showing on "future weapons" show) to be lighter, stronger and superior to the US military issue.

the cold hard truth is unless the politicians and US companies can get their "tribute" from development to implementation the US military doesnt want it.
hell even if it is home grown company.

to hell with what is best for the troops and to hell with what is best for those (aka TAXPAYERS) who pay for it.

scrounger



posted on Mar, 6 2020 @ 01:22 AM
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I (surprisingly) dont agree with this idea.

dont get me wrong , the private sector (when left to following basic capitalism ) usually can do it cheaper and more efficiently (there are exceptions) than the government .

but in this I dont see it

first if it was such a cost savings and efficient the military/industrial complex would not let it happen.
just look at the current boondoggle with the new refueling jets.. the old ones worked FLAWLESSLY and just like the B-52 needed some upgrades and replacement parts.
but there is no major money in that so the military demanded the newest jets and to hell if they worked.

along with say it was allowed any savings would be eaten up by those in the government (and allies in industry) that wanted to "wet their beaks " as the mafia says.
be that needing "specific certifications" and "specific testing" . The first giving money to the government and the second giving contracts to "specific government sanctioned/certified/approved" vendors.


second problem is more basic military need

look tankers are required for military air operations and need to be available at a moments notice. Along with be able to both be in the US (as some suggested the private company could do) and go oversees .

since tankers are very expensive the military cant have a surplus of them around. To have some that cannot go outside of US and some for outside of US would be very expensive
especially given what happens if some of the "outside" US certified go down due to mechanical issues, maintenance, shot down, and/or acts of God .

look I have no doubt there are ways to cut costs in the tanker fleet... NOT BUYING TANKERS THAT DONT WORK is a great start .

Along with if the tankers dont work as promised THE COMPANY WHO MADE THEM foots the bill for fixing them

but to privatize them IMO is a strategically bad idea

scrounger



posted on Mar, 6 2020 @ 01:48 AM
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a reply to: FredT

They would have to allow sales from the government again. They stopped them after 9/11.



posted on Mar, 6 2020 @ 01:58 AM
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a reply to: scrounger

First, the old tankers are 60 years old, and like the B-52, require more and more maintenance, no longer have some parts made, are seeing corrosion issues, e.t.c. They no longer work "FLAWLESSLY". In FY18, the KC-135R had a mission capable rate of 73%. The T model dropped from 75% to 73%. Last years numbers aren't out yet, but they're sure to have dropped again.

Second, these won't be military aircraft, but will free up military tankers for more important missions. You have no idea how hard pressed the current tanker fleet is, and how badly we have needed something like this. I was watching aircraft have trouble getting tankers 30 years ago. And it's only gotten worse.

Third, with the exception of the boom redesign ($55M), Boeing IS paying for the issues with the KC-46.

As to your previous post, we're not talking about military aircraft with these tankers. It's a huge difference between taking a commercial 767 and modifying it with a boom and drogue pod, and taking a commercial 767 and converting it to military standards. One is much more stringent than the other.
edit on 3/6/2020 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 6 2020 @ 09:41 PM
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a reply to: scrounger

Re: Dragon Skin
I have some personal experience in survivability testing in many forms, including some body armor. And Dragon Skin was great marketing coupled with a crap product. It would be better than wearing nothing, but was not as wonderful as their videos showed-- at least in real world application. As SAPI and ESAPI plates were and are continuing to get smaller lighter (and/or cheaper, depending on exact requirement) and XSAPI was coming over the horizon, I think the right decision was probably made.

Re: the HK416, SOCOM and the Marines have both bought in. The army is its own acquisition nightmare, but will eventually come around to reality on its own terms.



posted on Mar, 6 2020 @ 09:58 PM
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a reply to: scrounger




since tankers are very expensive the military cant have a surplus of them around.


That's exactly why they are outsourcing to private vendors... The Air Force's tankers can be overseas fulfilling missions in war zones where they are needed and every CONOPS tanking requirement for training or deployment is taken up by a low-bidder.
Pouring good money after bad trying to keep the older -135's in the air cannot be the answer. I disagree with the decision to phase out the KC-10, but even as it is younger and more capable, the users of the platform have all bit dried up, making those expensive to keep up as well.

They screwed the pooch having to award the contract to Boeing after EADS and NG pantsed them in the competition. They haven't done themselves any favours in program management since then. They need more tankers, but it's a long way away given the Byzantine acq process. The immediate plan should be a KC-Y that fills a need now. Maybe a hi-low combination in the KC-Y program that results in a mixed fleet of different capacity/cost. If that comes at the expense of the KC-46 program, no one outside Boeing will shed tears. They need to shelve all the KC-Z dreams indefinitely.



posted on Mar, 6 2020 @ 10:02 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58




Third, with the exception of the boom redesign ($55M), Boeing IS paying for the issues with the KC-46.

Well, the people on the ground in the field are the ones paying the price, followed by the USAF trying to afford keeping the legacy tankers in the air, and being forced to divest them for newer more expensive tankers that cannot... actually tank.

Boeing is just picking up the tab, not paying the price.



posted on Mar, 6 2020 @ 10:53 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

One of the more interesting options being looked at is leaving Boeing at the 65 they're currently contracted at, and rebidding the rest. Then opening bids for the second program. KC-Z is, for all intents and purposes, dead.



posted on Mar, 6 2020 @ 11:36 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

They ought to hand the entire Pegasus buy back to Boeing at this point. Offset the financial costs by letting them off the hook for all the overrun penalties. You won't have an operational KC-46 until 2025 now. You may as well cancel the program, let Boeing have the birds back and they can sell them to anyone they want to. New bid an emergency program for tankers available yesterday. If Boeing wants to pitch a new KC-46 derivative that is actually ready for operations within the next five years, go for it.



posted on Mar, 7 2020 @ 05:44 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58
I could actually see EADS being interested in bidding for that. They would have an imperative to make it work, but would need to sign a contract that makes sure the USAF doesn't f**k around with requirements after the aircraft baseline has been defined, otherwise you walk away. If EADS were smart, they could use this as political leverage against the cross Atlantic subsidy debacle to show that they can deliver on time and on budget with a decent and usable product. The basic MRTT spec with minor adjustments like radios would easily suffice. If we are looking at an order of 150 or more they could deliver them in batches of say 30 every 18 months. First batch is basic MRTT. Each successful batch delivery sees the next batch delivered with incremental upgrades that spiral towards a basic "ideal specification". As time grows you know they will also need newer equipment or capability that needs to be added. By phasing it you can manage and digest it. If you run into developmental headwinds , you can always pause them but continue to deliver whatever current baseline spec you have successfully reached. As you get towards the later batches your initial batch comes up to PDM or whatever equivalent heavy check system is to be used. At this point you can upgrade your early batches to whatever the current stable baseline spec is and keep the cycle running.

This could also work with RadioRobert's idea of handing back the KC-46, so that Boeing has a chance to redeem itself IF it is truly worthy. Personally I would like to see the USAF operate a mixed fleet of both types, possibly powered by the same baseline engine family, either a PW-4000 or CF-6 class for them (no RR wont get a look in because its not made in the US) which has happened in the commercial world. An A-330NEO tanker would be very interesting, but would probably need re-certification that eats to much time when this thing needs to happen yesterday.

edit on 7-3-2020 by thebozeian because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 7 2020 @ 07:21 AM
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a reply to: thebozeian

At this point the specs are pretty set, so if they were to go that route it's largely a matter of building and testing. Flip things so the contracted KC-46s become the KC-10 replacements, and let the -45 replace the -135, and we basically end up with a fleet mix similar to what's currently flying.



posted on Mar, 7 2020 @ 03:31 PM
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a reply to: thebozeian

A couple nice things about your incremental upgrade idea in this case are: A) you get tankers fast, obviously, B) you can hand the upgrade workshare to domestic firms. It'd help if EADS had a domestic partner for production, but that wouldn't happen until later phases of the buy.

I wouldn't count out RR. They've already got a plant opening in Indianapolis. Expanding that may or may not be feasible, but it'd open up commercial opportunities as well.



posted on Mar, 7 2020 @ 04:11 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

They already produce C-37 and E-11 engines. Expanding to others isn't that big a stretch.



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