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Future Tanker Options for the US Air Force

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posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 08:17 PM
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The Pentagon has told the airforce to explore a variety of concepts in regards to the future of its tanker purchase:According to Aviation Week and Space Technology a battle of sorts have broken out in Boeing with one group still offering the KC-767, and other has put forth a plan to reconstruct MD-11's that are sitting in Arizona to a New KC-10B. The plus is that alot of the work is in McCains backyard.

They are also looking at:

7E7 (Doubtfull, it would be years before the commercial sells fall off)
747 (would make an awesum tanker and thier are plenty of -400's)
A310/A330 (has as much of a chance as my winning Mr. Unvierse)
KC-17 (Would be a pricey Tanker)
KC-130J (Marines are buying some, but I doubt it would be used by the AF)
and an all new generic tanker




posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 10:48 PM
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I like the look of Lockheed's Box-Wing Design Concept.





posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 10:55 PM
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The Lockheed Box wing design is nice it allows for the tanker to carry more fuel and have better lift. But the Lockheed plane wont have a prototype till a couple of years, and it will be even longer before it can enter service so we need something temporary right now.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 11:47 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
The Lockheed Box wing design is nice it allows for the tanker to carry more fuel and have better lift. But the Lockheed plane wont have a prototype till a couple of years, and it will be even longer before it can enter service so we need something temporary right now.


I don't know. It may take 10 plus years. If they got for the 767 those will have a 20+ year life. Ill put my money on the Box Wing replacing the C-5?



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 12:14 AM
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What do you think about posibility of using large airships as tankers for helicopters and slow flying planes (like Global Hawk, C-130 or Predator)?



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 01:01 AM
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Helicopters have mid air refueling capability so I don't see why we need to replace them. The Predator or Global Hawk they can stay up for 20-24 hours flying around. Why would you refuel it you could land it then send up another one instead of making the airplane run for 3 or more days without stop.



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 01:37 AM
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Thats a wierd idea.

An airship loaded with fuel could probably only get up to 60mph.

Can The Predator even fly stable at those low speeds? If so how slow?



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 01:41 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Why would you refuel it you could land it then send up another one instead of making the airplane run for 3 or more days without stop.

Yep, and it would make them (even) more expensive with an aerial refueling system. Would be a challange for the pilots, though


I havent read that much about aerial refuelers and stuff like that, but is there a need for bigger refuelers than the current KC-135's? or just newer planes?
Seems a it useless to me to stuff a 747 full with fuel. Wouldn't is be better to buy several smaller refuelers (like the C-130J) instead of one 747 (or 7E7 for that matter)?

[edit on 10-8-2004 by Zion Mainframe]



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 01:53 AM
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Originally posted by Murcielago
Can The Predator even fly stable at those low speeds? If so how slow?

The older predators have a cruise speed of just 84 mph, so that wouldnt be a problem.
The newer ones, MQ-1/MQ-9's with turboprop engines can reach speeds of 220+ knots, or 250+ mph.
Don't know about its minimum/critcal air speed though. It has a large wingspan, so it wouldnt immediately fall out of the sky, methinks...



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 12:49 PM
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Originally posted by Murcielago
Thats a wierd idea.

An airship loaded with fuel could probably only get up to 60mph.

Can The Predator even fly stable at those low speeds? If so how slow?


It is posible to construct and airship with 90 Mph - already today. Maybe in the future they could be faster. The reason why to use it?

1. Airship doesn't consume fuel when hoovering - so it can stay on place for days and wait. It is also more economical - tanker plane needs very much fuel for itsself.
2. It could carry much more than plane.
3. It is much cheaper. About 1/5 of plane cost (with the same payload).
4. It doesn't need an airfield to land. It can refuel from the ships or ground without landing.
5. It could be unmanned.
6. It can transport fuel also to the ground forces again without the use of airfield.



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 01:18 PM
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Originally posted by Zion Mainframe
I havent read that much about aerial refuelers and stuff like that, but is there a need for bigger refuelers than the current KC-135's? or just newer planes?
Seems a it useless to me to stuff a 747 full with fuel. Wouldn't is be better to buy several smaller refuelers (like the C-130J) instead of one 747 (or 7E7 for that matter)?


I think the push is for newer planes Zion. The 7E7 and A330 have been quotes as being ramp hogs and the 7E7 wont be avalible for a while cause of all the commercial interest. The 747 concept has been around a while and given the large # of 747-400 now parked in the desert while large makes it a good choice. However as you states its big and you would see smaller tankers purchased with that one. One of the AF concern is the ability to foreward base them .



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 01:45 PM
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LONGBOW - true true, you have alot of good points.

But you would need alot of turbine engines to get to 90mph.

and your idea sounds like it should be a Unmanned Airship Tanker. Because pilots would pretty much have to live in there, it just sounds more economical to take them out.



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 02:40 PM
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Originally posted by Murcielago
LONGBOW - true true, you have alot of good points.

But you would need alot of turbine engines to get to 90mph.

and your idea sounds like it should be a Unmanned Airship Tanker. Because pilots would pretty much have to live in there, it just sounds more economical to take them out.


I forgot an exact URL, but I have read about an big non-rigid airship (150m long, 30m diameter)that can lift 50 tons to 1000 m, and make 150 km/h with 2 2000 hp diesels ( for 20 hours) . And it can cruise (110km) for 100 hours. Current tank engines have 1500 hp - that means this airship would be very economicaly. Compare it to the current fuel consumption of normal planes. And this airship exist already today. Bigger airship that could lift more fuel needs more powerfull engines and maybe turbines instead of diesels, but it is not that bad as many people thinks. And remember it needs the speed only during the refueling, after that it could set the engines off and simply wait. And next advantage - the airships have much lower RCS (they are made of radar transparent materials).



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 02:45 PM
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Wow, airships and a jet bi-plane, talk about back to the future!

How come the MD11 is not top of the list?

Big, relatively modern, modern engines and with a family commonality to the KC10....surely this makes most sense as spares, maintenance etc are considered?



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 06:03 PM
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Originally posted by sminkeypinkey
How come the MD11 is not top of the list?
Big, relatively modern, modern engines and with a family commonality to the KC10....surely this makes most sense as spares, maintenance etc are considered?


Actually, the planes while similar do not share much in the way of structure or avionics. Boeing has 39 MD-11's parked in the desert that it owns. However, alot of carriers still use them and may or may not want to give them up. If Boeing was smart, they would say offer those carriers cut rate deals on new twin engine planes and take the MD-11 as trade ins. Then turn around convert them and sell them to the Air Force.

I like the MD-11 as a tanker. It has an all digital cockpit, better payload than the KC-767 and more cargo capacity. etc. I would also add in a squad of KC-19's (747) they would have a huge offload capacity and great cargo as well. Part if they can convert them to the Freighter configuration. That in turn could take some of the load off of the C-17 / C-5 fleet.

The Drawback to both plane types is that they are in demand from freight companies for conversion esp the 747-400's in the desert.



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 06:35 PM
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I hope we keep the business with Boeing. As crooked as they maybe, I still hope they get contracts for conversions. All of the aircraft I have flown on, I like Boeing's....they are the most comfortable.

=-Rich



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 06:48 PM
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Although I think the Airship Tanker idea is interesting I would still pick the Lockheed Box-wing design.



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 07:00 PM
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Originally posted by Murcielago
Although I think the Airship Tanker idea is interesting I would still pick the Lockheed Box-wing design.


The Box wing has more merit. As pointed out the airship idea is too slow unless it is refueling a choper. Also, its relative slow speed would make rapid deployment impossible.

In regards tot he box wing, anybody have anyidea about the wing vortex generated by it? Having been out on a LifeFlight and run into wake turbulence 5 MILES behind a 757, that would be another factor in it being used as a refuling plane.



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