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Tactical Tanker


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On 9/22/2022 at 4:47 AM, ClearedHot said:

Same offload as a KC-135

Sorry, but this is a potentially misleading statement. I suppose this could be true in a very specific set of circumstances. For instance, if you mean that a KC-390 operating out of, say, Bagram could have the same offload capability overhead Kabul as a KC-135 coming from Manas and carrying winter divert fuel, then yeah, maybe I can see it. If, however, you’re saying that a KC-390 could depart Fairchild and dump 110K into a BUFF over the North Pacific, I’m gonna need to see some pretty significant modifications to the airframe (like a stretch & a couple more engines) or I call bullshit. That said, this concept does have some potentially game changing advantages, especially when you need more booms in the air & want to be closer to the fight. I don’t think it trumps the need for a “strategic” KC-10 replacement that can provide large offloads over long distances (it’s a long way from Guam to Taipei). But this thing could be promising, particularly if ACC decides it wants to pony up for its own tanker support. 

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15 hours ago, StoleIt said:

Interesting.

Also, originally the KC-Z was supposed to be the KC-10 (large) replacement while the KC-X & Y were supposed to be the KC-135 replacement. So I wonder if Big Blue gave up on an actual -10 replacement and is just going to settle on 3x -46's for every 1x -10 on a coronet from now on.

KC-Y was not the KC-135 replacement, it was the bridge tanker meant to address the shortage of booms in the INDOPACOM CONOP.  If you watched the news the last year USAF made a lot of noise until Kendall decided to skip KC-Y and jump right to KC-Z which now defined by USAF as a family of systems.  As many other programs are going "family" one can assume a host of requirements that can't be met by a single platform.  I would think having several platform will reduce your efficiency but increase your capability.  I also believe the KC-Z family will field our first LO tanker.

9 hours ago, Stoker said:

That works fine until you've got three Pacific coronets going on at the same time and there's nowhere to park. 

That is because you are stuck in legacy thinking.  The very nature of agile tankers means they don't have to park at Fortress Guam.  I give huge props to General Miniham and a few others that are trying to break dogmatic thinking and flip the calculus back on the Chinese.  We all know Guam is going to eat 1,000+ missiles on day one so what big thing had been done to protect the tankers?  Aside from some Patriots that will tag a few of the inbound shots the only major move has been to lengthen and improve the runway at Tinian, great job you diluted the inbound missiles to 500.  The Hudson Institute with no mandate from industry recently completed a Resilient Aerial Refueling Study which outlined the problem and examined the Agile tanker concept.  A quick look at the AOR shows 254 airfields available for traditional tankers, lower runway requirement to 5000' and your options more than double, allow for dirt and you have completely diluted the Chinese missile advantage, widened the number of approaches by a factor of three, and allowed for FAR more gas on station.

6 hours ago, Prozac said:

Sorry, but this is a potentially misleading statement. I suppose this could be true in a very specific set of circumstances. For instance, if you mean that a KC-390 operating out of, say, Bagram could have the same offload capability overhead Kabul as a KC-135 coming from Manas and carrying winter divert fuel, then yeah, maybe I can see it. If, however, you’re saying that a KC-390 could depart Fairchild and dump 110K into a BUFF over the North Pacific

Potentially misleading, not intentionally and it really relates to the CONOP.  Given the distances the KC-135 will have to operate from there is no way it can make it to the potential top off points and give 110K.  When you operate an agile tanker closer to the fight, you have to acknowledge that proximity adds flexibility.  Operating 500-750NM from a closer airstrip and being able to pass 75,000lbs+ at least equals if not exceeds a KC-135 trying to operate from Guam or other longer runways.

6 hours ago, Prozac said:

I’m gonna need to see some pretty significant modifications to the airframe (like a stretch & a couple more engines) or I call bullshit.

Lets be real, you call bullshit on everything I say on here.  I am sure you won't believe me, but having been on the aircraft, I can tell you your assumption is wrong.

6 hours ago, Prozac said:

That said, this concept does have some potentially game changing advantages, especially when you need more booms in the air & want to be closer to the fight. I don’t think it trumps the need for a “strategic” KC-10 replacement that can provide large offloads over long distances (it’s a long way from Guam to Taipei). But this thing could be promising, particularly if ACC decides it wants to pony up for its own tanker support. 

Never would I suggest we don't need strategic tankers, that concept has been proven in blood.  What we need is new thinking and new ways to flip the calculus back on our adversaries and in my opinion Agile tanker does just that in a multitude of ways.

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5 hours ago, ClearedHot said:

KC-Y was not the KC-135 replacement, it was the bridge tanker meant to address the shortage of booms in the INDOPACOM CONOP.  If you watched the news the last year USAF made a lot of noise until Kendall decided to skip KC-Y and jump right to KC-Z which now defined by USAF as a family of systems.  As many other programs are going "family" one can assume a host of requirements that can't be met by a single platform.  I would think having several platform will reduce your efficiency but increase your capability.  I also believe the KC-Z family will field our first LO tanker.

I was always told that Y was a second buy of the X tanker to replace the -135 and Z was a larger format tanker for the -10 replacement. Not saying they didn't change the definition sometime in the last 20 years or maybe my info was wrong. AMC also thought leasing 767s from Boeing was a good idea the first time round too.

Quote

That is because you are stuck in legacy thinking.  The very nature of agile tankers means they don't have to park at Fortress Guam.  I give huge props to General Miniham and a few others that are trying to break dogmatic thinking and flip the calculus back on the Chinese.  We all know Guam is going to eat 1,000+ missiles on day one so what big thing had been done to protect the tankers?  Aside from some Patriots that will tag a few of the inbound shots the only major move has been to lengthen and improve the runway at Tinian, great job you diluted the inbound missiles to 500.  The Hudson Institute with no mandate from industry recently completed a Resilient Aerial Refueling Study which outlined the problem and examined the Agile tanker concept.  A quick look at the AOR shows 254 airfields available for traditional tankers, lower runway requirement to 5000' and your options more than double, allow for dirt and you have completely diluted the Chinese missile advantage, widened the number of approaches by a factor of three, and allowed for FAR more gas on station.

Has anyone looked at how we are going to get, maintain, and resupply millions of pounds of jet fuel out of an austere location? Yes, dispersing our assets is a great idea for survivability...but each sortie for a KC-135/KC-390 is going to be 200K+ in gas. You're talking millions of pounds of fuel somehow being refilled in a dirt strip...and I don't think an oil pipeline is going to be easily hidden nor is an oiler ship offload facility. This isn't going to be a FARP for a couple helicopters that we can push off the back of a C-130 and keep the Army happy for a week. This COA is talking serious amounts of fuel. I'd just be curious what the plan for that would be or is this a disposable FOB that we will fly 2-3 sorties out of and then bug out back to a hardened facility (that probably would be a smoking hole).

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Has anyone looked at how we are going to get, maintain, and resupply millions of pounds of jet fuel out of an austere location? Yes, dispersing our assets is a great idea for survivability...but each sortie for a KC-135/KC-390 is going to be 200K+ in gas. You're talking millions of pounds of fuel somehow being refilled in a dirt strip...and I don't think an oil pipeline is going to be easily hidden nor is an oiler ship offload facility. This isn't going to be a FARP for a couple helicopters that we can push off the back of a C-130 and keep the Army happy for a week. This COA is talking serious amounts of fuel. I'd just be curious what the plan for that would be or is this a disposable FOB that we will fly 2-3 sorties out of and then bug out back to a hardened facility (that probably would be a smoking hole).

I imagine there’s a frazzled A4 and A5 in certain theaters trying to figure that out.
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3 hours ago, StoleIt said:

I was always told that Y was a second buy of the X tanker to replace the -135 and Z was a larger format tanker for the -10 replacement. Not saying they didn't change the definition sometime in the last 20 years or maybe my info was wrong. AMC also thought leasing 767s from Boeing was a good idea the first time round too.

Has anyone looked at how we are going to get, maintain, and resupply millions of pounds of jet fuel out of an austere location? Yes, dispersing our assets is a great idea for survivability...but each sortie for a KC-135/KC-390 is going to be 200K+ in gas. You're talking millions of pounds of fuel somehow being refilled in a dirt strip...and I don't think an oil pipeline is going to be easily hidden nor is an oiler ship offload facility. This isn't going to be a FARP for a couple helicopters that we can push off the back of a C-130 and keep the Army happy for a week. This COA is talking serious amounts of fuel. I'd just be curious what the plan for that would be or is this a disposable FOB that we will fly 2-3 sorties out of and then bug out back to a hardened facility (that probably would be a smoking hole).

Lots of agile mavic pros

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What’s the argument against an RPA/UAV tanker like MQ-25 augmenting existing tankers?  You could have the big boys sit back as an intermediate fueling node topping off the droids who push forward closer to the fight.  I realize there is a technical issue with the MQ-25 being hose and drogue but that’s a technical issue I’m sure could be solved.  Pair like four droids for every heavy tanker and go forth.  Maybe this would allow the heavy tankers more of a role as a C2 node as well.  The more vulnerable tankers stay back, the pointy nose guys still get fuel further forward and perhaps this helps alleviate some manpower pressures.  What am I missing?

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Two questions, just a dumb herk guy. 
 

1. Why haven’t the services just standardized to prove/drogue? Wouldn’t that simplify our logistics problem? It can’t be that hard to find a way to retrofit USAF aircraft with some kind of donkey dick unicorn adapter. 
 

2. What about a turbofan flying boat tanker? Can operate from all over the pacific and could reload from dispersed bulk refueling stations. I’m sure it would be ugly as hell. 

 

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17 minutes ago, herkbier said:

Two questions, just a dumb herk guy. 
 

1. Why haven’t the services just standardized to prove/drogue? Wouldn’t that simplify our logistics problem? It can’t be that hard to find a way to retrofit USAF aircraft with some kind of donkey dick unicorn adapter. 

 

Gas comes out of a boom a lot faster than a hose and drogue. That matters when you're refueling bombers who want a lot of gas.

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6 hours ago, herkbier said:

Two questions, just a dumb herk guy. 
 

1. Why haven’t the services just standardized to prove/drogue? Wouldn’t that simplify our logistics problem? It can’t be that hard to find a way to retrofit USAF aircraft with some kind of donkey dick unicorn adapter. 
 

2. What about a turbofan flying boat tanker? Can operate from all over the pacific and could reload from dispersed bulk refueling stations. I’m sure it would be ugly as hell. 

 

1. Waaaaaay more incidents of broken probes and baskets--and Stoker is 100% correct, boom AAR is much faster.

2. Interesting idea...maybe the seaplane thread needs to discuss slapping a boom pod onto the floating -130!

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11 hours ago, soupafly06 said:

What’s the argument against an RPA/UAV tanker like MQ-25 augmenting existing tankers?  You could have the big boys sit back as an intermediate fueling node topping off the droids who push forward closer to the fight.  I realize there is a technical issue with the MQ-25 being hose and drogue but that’s a technical issue I’m sure could be solved.  Pair like four droids for every heavy tanker and go forth.  Maybe this would allow the heavy tankers more of a role as a C2 node as well.  The more vulnerable tankers stay back, the pointy nose guys still get fuel further forward and perhaps this helps alleviate some manpower pressures.  What am I missing?

In current state they don't carry enough gas.  If you look at the Hudson Institute report I posted above it shows some MQ-25 numbers.

For the INDOPACOM scenario there are two big rocks that need to be moved.

1.  In current state we don't have enough booms to support.  There are several ways to solve it as outlined here with the two most popular being more big wing tankers or a paradigm change to agile tankers.

2.  Regardless of which solution you choose for #1, the logistics of supporting either solution are no easy problems.  If you go with big wing tankers you have limited bases and thus easier targets.  It does not good if your massive fuel tanks are burning from Chinese missile strikes.  If you go agile tankers now you have to move gas around the theater to support their disaggregated ops.  it does you no good to have all your agile tankers survive only to sit empty with no gas to pass or operate.  There is a LOT of work being done on item #2, but for obvious reasons we can't talk about it on here.  I will say there are some very clever and game changing solutions on the table.

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Related to the Tactical Tanker idea and to fuel the discussion

THE CASE FOR A THREE-TANKER AIR FORCE

Big - 777 tanker/freighter (I know Boeing but it's what is politically possible), buy 100+ and look at partial strat airlifter divestiture to keep acquisition inside the lines, keep the military modifications to a reasonable level to reduce risk, this will enable you to get close to the fight and it's not getting very close to the fight, keep as close the certified commercial aircraft as possible

Medium - KC-46 / KC-135 (Shrink 135 fleet and buy a few more KC-46s, figure out one last comprehensive upgrade for the venerable 135 and then focus on the 46, not sure how many more 46s but buying another 20% sound right, saving the best 1/3rd of the 135s and cannibalizing the rest to support the survivors)

Tactical - KC-390, not sure on the necessary fleet size and the real number just might be classified... but figure 75 at least.

@ClearedHot - to the extent you can say, is this only an AF theoretical acquisition or have other services/allies looked into this?  Maybe without the boom system but with the modified KC-390?

 

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19 hours ago, soupafly06 said:

What’s the argument against an RPA/UAV tanker like MQ-25 augmenting existing tankers?  You could have the big boys sit back as an intermediate fueling node topping off the droids who push forward closer to the fight.  I realize there is a technical issue with the MQ-25 being hose and drogue but that’s a technical issue I’m sure could be solved.  Pair like four droids for every heavy tanker and go forth.  Maybe this would allow the heavy tankers more of a role as a C2 node as well.  The more vulnerable tankers stay back, the pointy nose guys still get fuel further forward and perhaps this helps alleviate some manpower pressures.  What am I missing?

This, if implemented right now, also requires investing in over the horizon control of the droids that may or may not exist from night 0 to night X of the war. With a JADC2 architecture and AI enabled operations, you still are contesting basic control of the aircraft and may have limited ‘cognitive’ maneuver ability when the fight changes to a mode not contained in the model (potentially still true Re: aircraft control with a human operator present, but the barriers to entry are much higher, riskier, and likely to be discovered/countered.)

Our fascination with unmanned aircraft was largely sold to the American public as “risk reduction” over the last 20 years. When the risk becomes “no gas = no fight = no effects on the enemy,” it is worth risking an American life to avoid creating center of gravity in the cyber and/or space domains. 
 

It’s marginal gains and an extreme example, but a peer fight will be a game of inches; you don’t get solutions like this with drones: https://theaviationgeekclub.com/the-story-of-north-star-the-kc-135-stratotanker-that-saved-an-f-4-phantom-over-the-atlantic/amp/

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9 hours ago, Clark Griswold said:

Tactical - KC-390, not sure on the necessary fleet size and the real number just might be classified... but figure 75 at least.

@ClearedHot - to the extent you can say, is this only an AF theoretical acquisition or have other services/allies looked into this?  Maybe without the boom system but with the modified KC-390?

I think most people skip over the fact that this is the first clean sheet tanker design in MANY years.  They also miss that fact that the KC-390 tanker (minus the boom), is already in service with The Brazilian Air Force and The Hungarian Air Force.  The Netherlands and Portugal both recently placed orders for five each.  Before modification in the previous baseline configuration with three aux tanks it holds of 77,000lbs of gas.  That number has gone up greatly after a big weight reduction mod and increased fuel tanks.

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On 9/25/2022 at 6:03 AM, ClearedHot said:

It does not good if your massive fuel tanks are burning from Chinese missile strikes.  If you go agile tankers now you have to move gas around the theater to support their disaggregated ops.  it does you no good to have all your agile tankers survive only to sit empty with no gas to pass or operate.  There is a LOT of work being done on item #2, but for obvious reasons we can't talk about it on here.  I will say there are some very clever and game changing solutions on the table.

So, how much avgas can you put in the silos of a converted ballistic missile sub?  Maybe couple that with an amphib tanker, or just airfields with dock access?  Just saying, it's hard to blow up a fuel depot that you can't find...

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So, how much avgas can you put in the silos of a converted ballistic missile sub?  Maybe couple that with an amphib tanker, or just airfields with dock access?  Just saying, it's hard to blow up a fuel depot that you can't find...

If you took every square inch of the missile bay and turned it into a fuel tank you’re talking about ~2 million gallons worth of space….

That would never actually be possible with all the other parts and pieces involved in that space.

Realistically, you at best get a couple hundred thousand gallons of fuel. That’s not a whole lot when you figure the average aircraft carrier is holding 3-3.5 million gallons of aviation fuel and burns through it in a matter of days in some instances. Not to mention the loss of a strategically more important asset to hold and move gas.


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On 9/21/2022 at 6:47 AM, ClearedHot said:

 

 

The boom is the risk and the company is going to spend a lot of money to develop a boom.  Boeing in their desire to serve America....or should I say vendor lock DoD, has refused to share rights to their boom and has gone as far as to retrieve all their old booms from derelict KC-97s. 

Just in case some of you youngsters don't know what a KC-97 is (four turning, two burning):

 

AAR (2).png

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10 minutes ago, Springer said:

Just in case some of you youngsters don't know what a KC-97 is (four turning, two burning):

 

AAR (2).png

That boom's nuts were probably numb after a fighter drag that A10s could keep up with.  Lol

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On 9/21/2022 at 6:47 AM, ClearedHot said:

Boeing in their desire to serve America....or should I say vendor lock DoD, has refused to share rights to their boom and has gone as far as to retrieve all their old booms from derelict KC-97s.

This is kind of.....interesting.

Was the scavenging of booms off of KC-97s recent?  Or is this something that happened in the long past?

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14 hours ago, Best-22 said:

@ClearedHot will it have a centerline drogue as well as a boom like the KC-10? Any cargo capes or fuel only?

The drogues are on the wings so it will have two drogues and one boom.  There will be several configurations that allow for gas or cargo. 

8 hours ago, LookieRookie said:

Just curious, how is it a clean sheet tanker when the original design was a C-390 and it was modded?

Who says it was modded?  Wiki? 

Embraer is very savvy, from day one they knew their primary customer was BAF and BAF needed a tactical tanker/airlifter.  So from day one they designed it to do both.   There was TREMENDOUS fallout from the TWA 800 incident, the requirements for fuel/electrics separation AND certification changed everything in the industry.  Embraer has an equivalency agreement with the FAA which they fiercely protect (they sell a LOT of bizjets in the U.S.), accordingly they designed from the first page to be a tanker and meet all FAA requirements.  So while Wiki says C-390, from the prototype it has all the plumbing and electrics in place to be a tanker.  Luckily they also put in a data bus from the nose to the tail and from wingtip to wingtip.

I've walked the factory floor, you could eat off it.  They don't use a single piece of paper on the assembly line, everything is digitized and large portions of the build are completely automated.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, ClearedHot said:

The drogues are on the wings so it will have two drogues and one boom.  There will be several configurations that allow for gas or cargo. 

Who says it was modded?  Wiki? 

Embraer is very savvy, from day one they knew their primary customer was BAF and BAF needed a tactical tanker/airlifter.  So from day one they designed it to do both.   There was TREMENDOUS fallout from the TWA 800 incident, the requirements for fuel/electrics separation AND certification changed everything in the industry.  Embraer has an equivalency agreement with the FAA which they fiercely protect (they sell a LOT of bizjets in the U.S.), accordingly they designed from the first page to be a tanker and meet all FAA requirements.  So while Wiki says C-390, from the prototype it has all the plumbing and electrics in place to be a tanker.  Luckily they also put in a data bus from the nose to the tail and from wingtip to wingtip.

I've walked the factory floor, you could eat off it.  They don't use a single piece of paper on the assembly line, everything is digitized and large portions of the build are completely automated.  

 

 

How much are you selling them for?

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