posted on Nov, 14 2006 @ 12:25 PM
You seem very sure that the probe and drogue system is inferior. Any ifo to back that up?
A'course I ain't never seen a Vulcan B.2 interned in a 'neutral' country with OUR missiles hanging underwing and a broken boom sticking out of
Apart from the fact that every other force except the USAF has chosen to use this method the only advantage I am aware of is that the wider boom can
transfer fuel more quickly.
Pretty big advantage when you consider that _every minute counts_ when you are trying to put coordinated airpower thru a BOTOT window on four
different airframes and five different engines.
I remember a Red Flag event in which the strike commander had a choice between refueling his Weasels and refueling an F-111 team coming late out of
Cannon. The lead F-111 puke was a full bird colonel and the airborne commander running the mission was only a Captain or a Major. He said NO. And
the Colonel said YES but as the _strike itself was late_ the Colonel got overruled by the Umpire because there were other iron delivery options in the
package and the Weasels had to scoot as it was to cover everyone.
Had he been a P&D ship there would have been /an added/ delay while he danced the dance with the basket in the wake of a large aircraft in his
overweight, underpowered, 'Vark. And another delay because the 10-12,000lbs he was needing for each of his flight of four was the equivalent of 8
minutes on the drogue vs. 4 on the boom when the F-4Gs were only asking for about 6K.
It all adds up to Better On Your Airplane Thank You So Very Much.
Also, as far as I know this is only an advantage when refuelling aircraft like the B-2 and B-52 because, although a single flying boom can transfer
fuel at approximately 6,000 lbs per minute while a single hose-and-drogue can transfer between 1,500 and 2,000 lbs of fuel per minute, fighter
aircraft, unlike bombers and other large aircraft, cannot accept fuel at the boom’s maximum rate. (Today’s fighter aircraft can accept fuel at
1,000 to 3,000 lbs per minute whether from the boom or from the hose-and-drogue.) Thus, the flying boom’s primary advantage over the hose-and-drogue
system is lost when refuelling fighter aircraft.
Not true. The boom gives you a constant position hold and an IMMEDIATE gas pass. Half the time, the hose kinks or the probe won't lock and so your
total fuel flow is ZERO on the panty. And if the tanker calls 'break away!' it's not just the fastjet which firewalls the throttles. It's the KC
which leaves the little 'super jet' flatfooted as it high steps away like a bloody Saturn V. That's a good 5-10 minutes depending on how panicky
the pilot thinks the observer or boom operator is.
OTOH, the Boom allows Senor Ace Of Base to sit comfy and quiet in the null just pushed-past the wake maintaining only basic alignment on the lights
and the visual pattern instead of bouncing around the wingtip vortices or using the Iron Maiden sex change, both of which require Zen beyond all
reason to gain and hold the coital connection.
And it IS 3,000lbs/minute. Which means '1,500-2,000lbs'. is _30-50%_ less flow rate. And 'in turn', this means junior can probably unplug
before the tanker needs to make it's orbit wheel to stay in the operating area wherein it's STILL gonna be the suckers out on the wingtips which get
to play plunge and lunge. Even if he doesn't, it's a lot easier to hold position on the centerline on a universal connection than at the wingtips
on an iron-wire rubber tube folks.
Additionally, unlike a P&D aircraft, the boom jet can refuel as safely at .85 Mach as .65 and 30K as 15K which is also a great advantage when you have
jets that can fly high but need a constant airspeed X to do maintain position (the F-15E with the 220 engine is a pig with anything but gas and
missiles above 20K and 300 knots, to refuel with as few as two Mk.82 aboard requires constant jockeying of one engine into and out of min burner,
imagine trying to plug a basket like that...).
Up-and-Down to the KC-130 or Fighter Whale orbits the way Navy/Marine force play at range profiling wastes at least half as much gas as you get
climbing back out of the soup.
Last but far from least, if you are tanking a UCAV, using differential GPS and maybe a smart LIDAR or DAS type micro FLIR for basic positioning
alignment, you are _doing good_. Making the poor dumb robot play poke the basket is ridiculous.
Also the P&D can allow multiple refuelling points (such as the RAF's three point refuelling from the VC-10) and so a typical probe and drogue tanker
can refuel a flight of fighter aircraft more quickly anyway as they don't need to queue and can refuel simultaneously.
So could a properly designed boom tanker. We have run boom ops from aircraft as 'small' as the F-105 on an extension pole from a modified external
tank. We have run design studies for double boom ops on joined wing and blended wing body airframes. Point being, if X is superior FOR YOUR
AIRFORCE, you should be doing what you can to EXPAND THAT CAPABILITY not play to the lowest common denominator of the also-ran losers of the flying
flotilla and the EU.
The biggest hassle on a fast jet trying to take gas from a drogue off a VLA is simply that the damn hose whips and cavorts like a drunken dervish in
the vortices off the tippods and sags and humps like a shy mare when mounted on the boom. Thus, if you're not _real_ careful, you can end up tearing
the whole hose off or losing your probe, probe door or worse. Which, if it doesn't outright mission kill your airframe and your wingmans is at least
certain to destroy your supersonic performance and your clean shorts. If it screws up the tanker itself, you may well have bleeped the entire package
EITHER WAY you are looking at a single point failure which can end the sortie of 1-3 airframes depending on who's broke and how bad. NOT something
to be risking on a _stealth_ asset in particular, given as the boom is a better gas passer.
Did I mention that plugging a drogue also becomes well nigh impossible at night or in weather where you are not allowed to work the lights on your jet
and you don't have NVG or AAR to 'ease the pain'?
Lastly, if MORE THAN HALF your force is receptacle equipped (70% of Kosovo sorties flown by U.S. tacair assets, not eurotrash ones, 90% of which were
USAF) and yet /at least half/ your 'one sex only' tanker force is P&D dedicated, you're screwed because you are supporting the force which is not
going to refuel THEIR half of the mission as fast as yours. And thus will be it's own cause for lag (as fuel burn and delayed fence crossing).
P&D is a terrible way to refuel any aircraft when you are pressed for time.
If YOU want an all P&D airforce, buy your own damn tanker fleet. Don't vamp off ours.
U.S. Navy pilots who flew early missions against the Taliban during Operation Enduring Freedom described the Royal Air Force’s six VC-10 tankers
that supported them as “a Godsend” and the “silent heroes” of the air war. Navy pilots expressed a clear preference for RAF tankers over USAF
Gee, and how many thousand pounds does this converted airliner have vs. the S-3 force that was ALSO THERE, combat tanking exposed and with little or
no escort over Pakistani airspace as a 'halfway home' alternative to basing out of RUSSIA? Ya see, it's like this: If you can't give them
refueling all the way in and out, you're no better than the assets they have organically available.