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Is the KC-10 going to be cut?

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Posted

Being a -135 ANG/AFRC bum is a sweet gig.

If you're AFRC/ANG, then you know as well as I do that there's not many AFRC/ANG units that will use a school slot for a non-"connected" enlisted guy to get retrained in a new airframe, just so he/she can score a couple more years of retirement points before pulling chocks for the last time. Especially when they're being flooded with applicants from younger folks who have a lot more time left until retirement, and therefore offer a lot more ROI.

In any case, it ain't worth brooding over. I'm sure ARPC will give me all the info and time I need to make an informed decision about what remains of my career, if/when we start flying one-shots to AMARC. [/sarcasm]

Back to enjoying every flight as if it's my last...

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Posted (edited)

I've got probably several hundred plugs on a 135/iron maiden combo, as well as every other combo including Brit VC-10's, L1011's, etc.

While the iron maiden is challenging at times, so is landing on the boat at night. One of the worst nights I had was rendezvousing with a 10 over northern Iraq, in the weather, then getting in the basket. A sine wave up and down the hose will rip your probe off just as fast as the maiden. MPR pods have their own challenges as well with wingtip vortices, but it's not hard. They're all terribly unforgiving of inattention and poor technique. That said, it works. Quite well. Harriers not tanking from the maiden is an operational and design limitation, not a matter of refusal. A five wet rhino can be next to impossible if you're single engine with the gear stuck down too. By far the "easiest" thing to tank off of was the S-3, but that's no longer an option.

We need what we can afford, from there the guy in the seat needs to adapt, overcome and execute.

Edited by BolterKing
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Posted

I feel a little guilty taking so much pleasure in this thread...

The most arrogant community in AMC, the ones who think by some incredible quirk of mathematics that great pilots exist only in the KC-10 while every other airframe is full of incompetent dweebs, the ones who treat other AMC aircrew deadheading on their jet worse than they treat space-A pax, the ones who can't talk to other AMC crew dogs for more than five minutes without telling them how much they suck or how incredibly gifted KC-10 pilots are.

This incredible flying community, a gift to our nation from the almighty, has been told by big blue: GO AWAY, WE DON'T NEED YOU, WE'LL BE JUST FINE WITHOUT YOU.

On behalf of KC-135, C-130, and C-17 flyers everywhere: before you start showing up at "slums" like Altus, Little Rock or McConnell and flying our crappy jets, remember to leave your gucci bags and arrogance on your KC-10s when you drop them off at the boneyard.

Sounds like someone didn't get their KC-10 on assignment night.

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Posted (edited)

You need help bro, maybe you should go talk to the chaplain/SARC/IG and tell them about your problem with the KC-10 and how their aircrew members hurt you emotionally.

No, new technique is go tell CNN how you can't handle the "tough" job you signed up for.

Edited by SurelySerious
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Posted

The most arrogant community in AMC, the ones who think by some incredible quirk of mathematics that great pilots exist only in the KC-10 while every other airframe is full of incompetent dweebs...

It's not that incredible, it's because we have a flight engineer.

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Posted

Only once in a while does an argument come along that is so awful that you can't sit by and let it go quietly.

Alright, I'll engage. The -135 has some advantages over the -10: they have a datalink, they've got their GATM upgrade done, and there are 6 times as many, so they've got a lot of booms in the air. Otherwise, here is why the KC-10 remains the best tanker in the world and why its crews are so damn proud of it:

1. We're the only tanker (existing or planned) that can support a real long-range fighter movement capability. Considering the future Pacific shift, this is vital. If we're ever going to try running an air war out of Guam (IAW the RAND analysis from a few years back) we'll need some pretty gigantic offloads to move a 2-4 ship of large air superiority fighters 3 hrs west and back. Boom sequencing won't be an issue. Ref 1986/2011 Libya ops.

2. Global strike and airdrop require even greater offloads. KC-10s actively train for and execute these missions; moving large aircraft across the world nonstop will be greatly degraded/impossible without us.

3. Every KC-10 can refuel any allied jet on every mission. Any future conflict will be joint AF/USN/allies and real-time flexibility will be required. This is why the same capes are being built into the KC-46.

4. Every KC-10 Aircraft Commander is a fully qualified/current receiver and formation pilot, and we're good at it. Not only does this give us a lot of operational options (again, on every mission we fly), it makes us better at tanking because we know how much it sucks to be snap-rolled into the sun or weather. Fun party trick: we can boom-check our own formation members to ensure the systems work before the users show.

5. We're cheap to operate: $21K per hour, not including fuel (add another $9K for that). I doubt there's any jet in the inventory that can move as much payload for so little cash. There's a reason FedEx still uses this airframe. And as far as the avionics upgrade cost, it's less than the cost of one KC-46. Pretty good value, I'd say.

6. Yes we can haul a shitload of cargo, almost as much a C-17, just not the oversized stuff like MRAPs. But if you have 160K lbs of gold bricks that need to be in Japan tomorrow, we can get it there quicker and cheaper! Also, there seems to be a perpetual myth that since we carry a lot of cargo, we must be inferior tanker pilots. This myth is dumb. Flying cargo around into non-tactical environments is easy it doesn't detract from other skills.

7. What Boom Control Unit issues are you talking about?

1. Do you really believe your own bullshit? That, prior to the year 1980 the United States Air Force was completely and utterly incapable of supporting any long range fighter movement capabilities, or fight a war in the Pacific? That, before the KC-10 came online, the U.S. literally could not project power anywhere ever, but somehow you came along and singlehandedly revolutionized warfare?

2. "Impossible". Holy shit dude, you really DO believe your own bullshit...

3. They are building it into the new tanker. And then they are killing off your tanker. Surely even you can draw the line from point A to B.

4. Better at tanking? As if there's some sort of lost art kung fu pilot technique to sitting on your ass and making left turns with the autopilot engaged while the boom does all the actual work.

5 & 6. Yes, there's a reason why FedEx uses it. And a bunch of other civilian carriers with similar airframes and capabilities. So why don't we just pay them to do it instead of you?

The KC-10 is nice to have, as a planner, as a flyer, and as a receiver. It has a lot of capabilities. It's also a really expensive, redundant luxury that we will able to do without once the KC-46 gets here. So what if you're a receiver and you won't get soft baskets? Get over it and do your job. So what if as a planner it's now more tricky to manage the gas in an AOR because you don't have a magical giant super-expensive fuel truck sitting around? Get over it and do your job. This is the military that we operate in now. One that requires actual intelligent people to figure out how to solve problems with what they've got instead of just having everything ever at their disposal, and being propped up with a a never ending river of money, logistics, and highly expensive, redundant airframes to help them do it.

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Posted

Only once in a while does an argument come along that is so awful that you can't sit by and let it go quietly.

1. Do you really believe your own bullshit? That, prior to the year 1980 the United States Air Force was completely and utterly incapable of supporting any long range fighter movement capabilities, or fight a war in the Pacific? That, before the KC-10 came online, the U.S. literally could not project power anywhere ever, but somehow you came along and singlehandedly revolutionized warfare?

2. "Impossible". Holy shit dude, you really DO believe your own bullshit...

3. They are building it into the new tanker. And then they are killing off your tanker. Surely even you can draw the line from point A to B.

4. Better at tanking? As if there's some sort of lost art kung fu pilot technique to sitting on your ass and making left turns with the autopilot engaged while the boom does all the actual work.

5 & 6. Yes, there's a reason why FedEx uses it. And a bunch of other civilian carriers with similar airframes and capabilities. So why don't we just pay them to do it instead of you?

The KC-10 is nice to have, as a planner, as a flyer, and as a receiver. It has a lot of capabilities. It's also a really expensive, redundant luxury that we will able to do without once the KC-46 gets here. So what if you're a receiver and you won't get soft baskets? Get over it and do your job. So what if as a planner it's now more tricky to manage the gas in an AOR because you don't have a magical giant super-expensive fuel truck sitting around? Get over it and do your job. This is the military that we operate in now. One that requires actual intelligent people to figure out how to solve problems with what they've got instead of just having everything ever at their disposal, and being propped up with a a never ending river of money, logistics, and highly expensive, redundant airframes to help them do it.

From what I've seen on this forum, you can't let any argument go quietly. You also come across as a bit of an ass.

1&2. You're right, it's not impossible to move fighters & bombers around the world without us. It will require tasking about 120-150 KC-135/46s to fill the capability gap left by the departed KC-10s (or multiple-leg fuel stops). How many KC-135s would it take to support just 2x air-superiority fighters over a 5-hr flight with a fight in the middle? This won't be impossible, just really hard, especially considering how limited the ramp space would be throughout the Pacific should a no-shit war ever start up. We'll save short-term money by cutting the -10, but every -10 mission filled by 2.5 KC-135s will actually cost more in fuel and flying hours.

3. The new tanker will use our boom plus a centerline drogue and be receiver-AR capable, just like a KC-10, but smaller and for only $250m each. Sweet. We'll have 18 of them by 2017 and all of them by 2028, according to Boeing. I sincerely hope they can deliver on schedule.

4. Yes, tanking is easy. But so many still screw it up.

5. Agreed. Outsource the peacetime cargo.

Overall you are correct, we could get by without the KC-10, as well as the A-10, F-15, U-2, B-1, C-5, and half the C-130s. Scrap them all, we'll figure it out like we always do. So what if it costs billions and our capabilities are reduced.

What do you fly, for frame of reference?

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Posted

I think I understand why Joe1234 is so angry all the time he's flight manager at TACC!

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Posted

Only once in a while does an argument come along that is so awful that you can't sit by and let it go quietly.

1. Do you really believe your own bullshit? That, prior to the year 1980 the United States Air Force was completely and utterly incapable of supporting any long range fighter movement capabilities, or fight a war in the Pacific? That, before the KC-10 came online, the U.S. literally could not project power anywhere ever, but somehow you came along and singlehandedly revolutionized warfare?

2. "Impossible". Holy shit dude, you really DO believe your own bullshit...

3. They are building it into the new tanker. And then they are killing off your tanker. Surely even you can draw the line from point A to B.

4. Better at tanking? As if there's some sort of lost art kung fu pilot technique to sitting on your ass and making left turns with the autopilot engaged while the boom does all the actual work.

5 & 6. Yes, there's a reason why FedEx uses it. And a bunch of other civilian carriers with similar airframes and capabilities. So why don't we just pay them to do it instead of you?

The KC-10 is nice to have, as a planner, as a flyer, and as a receiver. It has a lot of capabilities. It's also a really expensive, redundant luxury that we will able to do without once the KC-46 gets here. So what if you're a receiver and you won't get soft baskets? Get over it and do your job. So what if as a planner it's now more tricky to manage the gas in an AOR because you don't have a magical giant super-expensive fuel truck sitting around? Get over it and do your job. This is the military that we operate in now. One that requires actual intelligent people to figure out how to solve problems with what they've got instead of just having everything ever at their disposal, and being propped up with a a never ending river of money, logistics, and highly expensive, redundant airframes to help them do it.

Say quals?

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Posted

How many times have we asked joe to pony up with his qualifications/experience? Not holding my breath now

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Posted

Is he the one that sat 8+ hours on the Aetna ash cloud that closed my bros' destination and alternate (genius!)

No doubt lost in shift turnover.

Gave them a 2 day Italian getaway.

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Posted

Only once in a while does an argument come along that is so awful that you can't sit by and let it go quietly.

1. Do you really believe your own bullshit? That, prior to the year 1980 the United States Air Force was completely and utterly incapable of supporting any long range fighter movement capabilities, or fight a war in the Pacific? That, before the KC-10 came online, the U.S. literally could not project power anywhere ever, but somehow you came along and singlehandedly revolutionized warfare?

<snip>

The KC-10 is nice to have, as a planner, as a flyer, and as a receiver. It has a lot of capabilities. It's also a really expensive, redundant luxury that we will able to do without once the KC-46 gets here. So what if you're a receiver and you won't get soft baskets? Get over it and do your job. So what if as a planner it's now more tricky to manage the gas in an AOR because you don't have a magical giant super-expensive fuel truck sitting around? Get over it and do your job. This is the military that we operate in now. One that requires actual intelligent people to figure out how to solve problems with what they've got instead of just having everything ever at their disposal, and being propped up with a a never ending river of money, logistics, and highly expensive, redundant airframes to help them do it.

There were also a lot more KC-135s flying, a lot more crews and maintainers to fly and fix them, and a lot more options available to pre-position all those tankers along the way, in those days.

I did a Coronet earlier this year that required 9 tankers for 6 receivers - two KC-10s that did the whole drag from beginning to end, and SEVEN KC-135s scattered along the route at various overseas locations. Per the Coronet detail planner who was on our jet for a few legs, if you replaced those two -10s with -135s, THIRTEEN KC-135s would have been needed to do the same mission, with the same restrictions, along the only possible routing for that mission. Any adversary with Internet access is gonna be able to Google and see plane spotters' reports of a large number of tankers leaving the US and fanning out to various locations in the Pacific/Europe/Asia... a blatant indicator of planned major activity like that is an intel analyst's wet dream. Not to mention all the additional costs involved with flying those dozen -135s out to various TDY locations, and paying crews OCONUS per diem to sit and wait for the inevitable "Hey guys, TACC just called; the fighters broke / Wx went to shit at base X / tanker Y crewchief found a bad tire / tanker Z had a birdstrike & high speed abort / ________, 24hr slip, let's go get a beer" calls.

TACC has already run the numbers several times - cutting the KC-10 will cost more in the long run if we continue the optempo we've got.

Big Blue, if you're listening...

1. MD-10 the flight decks. Common flight deck, and common parts, with the other large DC-10/MD-11 fleet operator(s). GATM-compliant. Reduced repair costs for legacy mechanical instruments that are only getting more expensive to maintain. ~1k weight savings over legacy DC-10. FE crew position eliminated (I hate throwing the eng under the bus, but with an MD-10 flight deck they're not needed just to read the checklists and operate the FalconView laptop and the AR pumps); long-term personnel cost savings.

2. Give the copiglet an AR pump/fuel panel and a whiz wheel for CG maintenance during large offloads. Or... just automate that shit; other FAA-certificated jets manage CG with multiple fuel tanks at multiple arms just fine, without pilot intervention.

3. Re-engine to the CF6-80C2. 6.5k/engine more thrust, better fuel burn than the CF6-50C2 currently installed, and commonality with the C-5M fleet (also the VC-25s; not that those engines would be shared...).

4. Install MD-11 winglets. 2.5% fuel efficiency boost in cruise flight.

I know it's a pipe dream, but dreaming doesn't cost any money. Yet.

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Posted

Not to be a negative Nancy, but the 80 series would have to be derated or the pylons would have to be replaced. I thought there was some problem with the winglets vs WARPs but I could be crazy. We should have bought the MD-10 upgrade four attempted cockpit upgrades ago.

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Posted (edited)

Derate. Longer lifespan on the hot section components that way, plus max blast would probably be available on ADAB's hottest days with a little EGT to spare.

Is the -50 to -80 series upgrade something that's been studied before?

Yeah, winglets + WARPs probably wouldn't work without a bunch of additional structural work (aka added weight) to handle the extra loading; forgot about that. Might even be airflow issues, now that I think about it some more.

edit: clarity

Edited by JarheadBoom
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Posted

I did a Coronet earlier this year that required 9 tankers for 6 receivers - two KC-10s that did the whole drag from beginning to end, and SEVEN KC-135s scattered along the route at various overseas locations. Per the Coronet detail planner who was on our jet for a few legs, if you replaced those two -10s with -135s, THIRTEEN KC-135s would have been needed to do the same mission, with the same restrictions, along the only possible routing for that mission.

In July I was part of a mission which required 6 KC-10s at MTOGW. Good luck planning that with -135s.

Not to mention all the additional costs involved with flying those dozen -135s out to various TDY locations, and paying crews OCONUS per diem to sit and wait for the inevitable "Hey guys, TACC just called; the fighters broke / Wx went to shit at base X / tanker Y crewchief found a bad tire / tanker Z had a birdstrike & high speed abort / ________, 24hr slip, let's go get a beer" calls.

TACC has already run the numbers several times - cutting the KC-10 will cost more in the long run if we continue the optempo we've got.

According to this data provided by the AF Comptroller, the KC-135 costs about $19K per hour to fly, not including about $6K of fuel. The KC-10 costs $21K (and burns about $9K in fuel). It's pretty much a 2:1 trade-off operationally, so it'll cost much more to use -135s to replace the -10 mission. Of course, some will argue that we'll cut the -10 and just stop doing coronets, too. Maybe so.

Not to be a negative Nancy, but the 80 series would have to be derated or the pylons would have to be replaced. I thought there was some problem with the winglets vs WARPs but I could be crazy. We should have bought the MD-10 upgrade four attempted cockpit upgrades ago.

Did it have something to do with screwing up the airflow over the basket?

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Posted

No one says you guys don't bring a lot to the fight. Problem is, it isn't just about cost per flying hour. Here are the arguments for canning the 10: Big Blue has said that they only reap big savings by retiring a whole fleet. It's more about all the infrastructure - the depots, training assets, MX, base infrastructure, etc., and what that costs to run. The 10 is a good candidate for the axe because we already have a fleet of airplanes that can do the mission. Will it be more challenging? Of course, but it will still get done. Additionally, the KC-135 fleet already has the mods to fly on for another 20 years. It sucks, but the DOD isn't going to drop the cash to upgrade the 10.

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Posted

No strategic bomber support probably hurts as well.

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Posted (edited)

No one says you guys don't bring a lot to the fight. Problem is, it isn't just about cost per flying hour. Here are the arguments for canning the 10: Big Blue has said that they only reap big savings by retiring a whole fleet. It's more about all the infrastructure - the depots, training assets, MX, base infrastructure, etc., and what that costs to run. The 10 is a good candidate for the axe because we already have a fleet of airplanes that can do the mission. Will it be more challenging? Of course, but it will still get done. Additionally, the KC-135 fleet already has the mods to fly on for another 20 years. It sucks, but the DOD isn't going to drop the cash to upgrade the 10.

Agreed. With operations in the AOR winding down, there are going to be plenty of -135s available for coronets. Edited by Bergman
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Posted (edited)

Agreed. With operations in the AOR winding down, there are going to be plenty of -135s available for coronets.

This is not as true as you would think. Tanker requirements have exceeded capacity by a fairly wide margin for most of the past two decades. Just because there will lower priority missions getting the nod now will not mean more tankers for everyone.

As to the KC-10 argument, someone mentioned it as a luxury for DoD, and that remains true. It is running into the same issues the C-9 had with medivac. Ideal and purpose built platform, but the mission could be done with KC-135s and C-17s. Three weapon systems cost more than two, and the significant cost savings will be had by cutting the maintenance, personnel, training and sustainment of an aircraft.

Now the real hard part will be getting Congress to buy off on any plan to cut force structure or inventory. They constantly foster upon DoD weapon systems the military neither wants or can afford. If the KC-10 gets cut, it will have to be part of a deal where the first off the line KC-46s go to California and New Jersey. Doubtful any other plan will justify to them the need to cut jobs in “their” district.

Edited by NKAWTG
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Posted

I did a Coronet earlier this year that required 9 tankers for 6 receivers....

This is my $.02 as a current -135 AC, and a Coronet Detail Planner with one of the Guard TTF shops. I have about 6-7 years in the 135 and about 3 years now of traveling around the world as a Coronet Planner on KC-10s.

I'm not going to engage in any of the community/culture bashing or wenis measuring contests. Most tanker dudes are good pilots/booms and want to do their job well. Some suck, and want to keep sucking. No community is immune.

From a planning perspective, JarheadBoom hit the nail on the head. A safe rule of thumb in the coronet world is that 1 x KC-10 = 2 x KC-135s. As a planner, we obviously love to reduce the number of moving parts whenever possible. But could we do some of our most complex coronet mission sets (ie, Strikes from KMUO-AOR or 22's from PAED-AOR) with only 135s? Of course. We have done it, all the time. We have also done them with only KC-10s. In the end, the missions are completed with similar rates of MX issues, etc. What matters to the people who’s opinion matter is that the fighters get delivered nearly on time, not a 10-20% cost differential.

I have also seen it go both ways with receiver units. Some Navy/Marine units have squawked about 135s. Some got KC-10's. Some were told that the 135 was their only option. It mostly had to do with tail availability. I have yet to see a unit wait for a KC-10 to free up rather than deal with a 135 and go on time, especially when headed westbound. In the case of FMS sales, the rcvr units (most recently Tornados for me) get what they want for obvious reasons.

As others have said quite accurately, if big blue does cut the 10 it will be completely about $$. A smaller inventory (less than 20% of the 135 fleet size) with overlapping capabilities would seem to be an easy target. All semantics about who has more items of flair aside, we have other jets that can offload gas and move cargo in the inventory, and rcvr units will adapt. We as planners will adapt, but it will suck.

All that being said, I think this and discussions about chopping the A-10 are mostly posturing to wake politicians up to the impacts of sequestration. But anyone who convinces themselves that their job, airplane, base, etc, are indispensable in today's military is just setting themselves up for failure.

~NH

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But anyone who convinces themselves that their job, airplane, base, etc, are indispensable in today's military is just setting themselves up for failure.

~NH

Yep. This is all about the money, and the post-9/11 blank check has finally run out. Capabilities 5 years down the road are largely a problem for 5 years from now in our current management's eyes.

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Yep. This is all about the money, and the post-9/11 blank check has finally run out. Capabilities 5 years down the road are largely a problem for 5 years from now in our current management's eyes.

And of course 5 years down the road is someone else's problem.

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If it makes you feel any better they are parking KC-135R's at AMARC now. I am hearing rumors that some E-3's will be parked also so if want to go a plane that seems that won't get retired maybe the Commemorative Air Force is for you.

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I think the USAF got it's with out of the -135R. The one KLTS retired was due to un-repairable corrosion issues.

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If it makes you feel any better... a plane that seems that won't get retired maybe the Commemorative Air Force is for you.

Sign me up!

bilde1.jpg

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