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CiTrus90 - Thank you for the thoughtful discussion.

Just some points where I believe our suppositions disagree.

1.  You state your expectation that any conflict with a near-peer would result in nuclear war.  Perhaps this influences the methodical battle plan suggested which you conclude deems a stealthy tanker not being necessary. 

We may or may not agree that some military conflict will occur between the US and a near-peer.  It is necessary to plan for that war to be using conventional weapons, IMO.  In either scenario it is also likely that established US bases would be threatened.  Alternate plans for turning sorties are required - hence the stealthy "C130-like" airframe conjecture from me.

2.  While I understand the layered plan you put forth, I don't know if the priority target lists would fit this scenario.  My expectation is that limited air control missions would be necessary.  We'll have to agree to disagree in this regard.

3.  In support of SAR missions or running into hostile airspace, tankers have to loiter.  IMO, it would be nice if they weren't big fat targets while waiting.  We'll have to agree to disagree in this regard.

4.  Your right.  You don't need to convince me.  Whomever at AMC that's decided a stealthy tanker is required is the one that needs to be convinced.

Thanks!



2
Aerospace / Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Last post by kaiserd on Today at 11:29:02 am »
I like to highlight once more how all this discussion is highly theoretical, as I'm more than sure that any conflict with a peer State would see an escalation into a nuclear war.

Considering the two countries you mentioned, even if you knocked out every threat within 1000km the countries will be able to strike back conventionally from deeper held assets.
Quote
It is still likely that US planes will require tankers overfly hostile territory.

This is a non sequitur.
What I said before still stands: targets need to be engaged in successive layers, with the intent to push back the enemy's ability to hit you.
You advance the battlefield as you proceed in eliminating targets, from the closest to you to the farthest away.
The targets I'm specifically speaking of are those that need to be eliminated in order to achieve air control. All other targets are to be engaged in following phases.
If you cannot estabilish air superiority and SEAD, then you're sending your men to a slaughterhouse and are going to loose the war.

Quote
There would be several anchors fairly close to the border to support the strike packages multiple ingress and egress paths.

In the answer I gave above, I carefully chose the aircraft and weapons I mentioned for the opening phase of a conflict. Notice I did not mention any F-22 or F-35, but B-2 and B-52, with the latter staying out of range of enemy fighters.
The last two, given their range, don't need close-in anchors.
Instead, as the F-22 and F-35 are tactical fighters, and not strategic weapons, they lack the range to conduct this sort of operations.

Here is indeed the core of the issue in my opinion: a stealth tanker would be "needed" only to sustain the operations of tactical stealth fighters, while, given the range of strategic bombers like the B-2 and B-52, those wouldn't need anything different than a normal tanker.

But, tactical fighters should do what they're supposed to, and if you try and change their mission in order to make them strategic weapons you encounter all sorts of shortcomings.
There is a reason if during the Cold War there were a Strategic Air Command and a Tactical Air Command.
They didn't do the same things.

Quote
These close-in anchors would be there to support SAR missions as well.

SAR missions conducted with what exactly?
Because if you have a need for a stealth tanker, good luck in getting back in the same area where one of your aircraft was shot down, with a helicopter or a V-22.

Quote
Tankers often need to overfly hostile territory to meet and fuel planes that otherwise would not make it home. Many pilots owed the success of their missions - and some their lives - to being refueled by tankers who came and got them.

You're right.
Can you provide any example where this happened before air control and SEAD were estabilished in the area of operation?

I can anticipate your objection: "But if you had a stealth tanker you could move in without the need to do that".

Right, but I doubt a damaged aircraft would still be stealth. And if you have not removed the A2/AD threat consider that aircraft lost, with or without a stealth tanker that can refuel it.

Quote
It's a no brainer to build - basically - a stealthy C-130.

I suppose who was in Abbottabad in 2011 doesn't have the same opinion.
Neither do the ones that had to devise Operation Eagle Claw.

A Senior Citizen class of aircraft would have a very dedicated and interesting niche.

Naturally, all of this, is just my opinion.
I don't feel the need to convince you, but I just don't see where a stealth tanker could fit in, honestly.

I would almost completely agree with your comments above.
A stealth tanker would be necessarily a very niche but I could see still potential relatively low risk/ relatively low additional cost small number partial solutions such as existing stealthy designs (manned and unmanned) buddy refuelling (even if this requires probe and drouge rather than the US airforces favoured flying booms).
3
Aerospace / Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Last post by CiTrus90 on Today at 07:46:10 am »
I like to highlight once more how all this discussion is highly theoretical, as I'm more than sure that any conflict with a peer State would see an escalation into a nuclear war.

Considering the two countries you mentioned, even if you knocked out every threat within 1000km the countries will be able to strike back conventionally from deeper held assets.
Quote
It is still likely that US planes will require tankers overfly hostile territory.

This is a non sequitur.
What I said before still stands: targets need to be engaged in successive layers, with the intent to push back the enemy's ability to hit you.
You advance the battlefield as you proceed in eliminating targets, from the closest to you to the farthest away.
The targets I'm specifically speaking of are those that need to be eliminated in order to achieve air control. All other targets are to be engaged in following phases.
If you cannot estabilish air superiority and SEAD, then you're sending your men to a slaughterhouse and are going to loose the war.

Quote
There would be several anchors fairly close to the border to support the strike packages multiple ingress and egress paths.

In the answer I gave above, I carefully chose the aircraft and weapons I mentioned for the opening phase of a conflict. Notice I did not mention any F-22 or F-35, but B-2 and B-52, with the latter staying out of range of enemy fighters.
The last two, given their range, don't need close-in anchors.
Instead, as the F-22 and F-35 are tactical fighters, and not strategic weapons, they lack the range to conduct this sort of operations.

Here is indeed the core of the issue in my opinion: a stealth tanker would be "needed" only to sustain the operations of tactical stealth fighters, while, given the range of strategic bombers like the B-2 and B-52, those wouldn't need anything different than a normal tanker.

But, tactical fighters should do what they're supposed to, and if you try and change their mission in order to make them strategic weapons you encounter all sorts of shortcomings.
There is a reason if during the Cold War there were a Strategic Air Command and a Tactical Air Command.
They didn't do the same things.

Quote
These close-in anchors would be there to support SAR missions as well.

SAR missions conducted with what exactly?
Because if you have a need for a stealth tanker, good luck in getting back in the same area where one of your aircraft was shot down, with a helicopter or a V-22.

Quote
Tankers often need to overfly hostile territory to meet and fuel planes that otherwise would not make it home. Many pilots owed the success of their missions - and some their lives - to being refueled by tankers who came and got them.

You're right.
Can you provide any example where this happened before air control and SEAD were estabilished in the area of operation?

I can anticipate your objection: "But if you had a stealth tanker you could move in without the need to do that".

Right, but I doubt a damaged aircraft would still be stealth. And if you have not removed the A2/AD threat consider that aircraft lost, with or without a stealth tanker that can refuel it.

Quote
It's a no brainer to build - basically - a stealthy C-130.

I suppose who was in Abbottabad in 2011 doesn't have the same opinion.
Neither do the ones that had to devise Operation Eagle Claw.

A Senior Citizen class of aircraft would have a very dedicated and interesting niche.

Naturally, all of this, is just my opinion.
I don't feel the need to convince you, but I just don't see where a stealth tanker could fit in, honestly.
4
AGM-158 would be launched from B-2s and in the near future B-21s, which are stealth.

Who would you consider near-peers for the US?

PRC and RF.

Given the "today" scenario you mention above how would the US fuel that first strike I've emphasized from your text?

Avoiding deep strike inside enemy territory, focus on successive layers of defense, e.g. negate airbases near the coasts, then negate airbases behind those, then negate the ones deeper into enemy territory.

The B-2 has intercontinental range. Assuming a conservative combat radius for it of 3000km (to which you can add a conservative 900km range for a JASSM-ER), they could refuel anywhere out of SU-27s/J-11s + R-37 class of missile range.
Tanker orbits could be estabilished in the Arctic region, North Sea, over the Pacific (Guam) and Indian Ocean (Diego Garcia, with a refuel point over the Bay of Bengal). This, if the USA could not receive support from any of its allies, otherwise those refueling orbits could be moved even closer.

If the question is: "How do I bring the tankers there if I don't have forward-positioned tankers?" the answers is by setting up relays, similarly to Black Buck operations.

What I mean, with all of this, is that only the tip of the spear needs to be sharp.

When we use the term near-peer what do we mean?  At the very least it means a country that is likely to be successful in engaging US militarily.  Perhaps not ultimately but certainly they are likely to be successful in downing US planes and engaging US ships.

It's likely the US would use stand-off missiles to strike targets.  Considering the two countries you mentioned, even if you knocked out every threat within 1000km the countries will be able to strike back conventionally from deeper held assets.  It is still likely that US planes will require tankers overfly hostile territory.   

Recall the US sent qty-3 B-2's and launched 110 Tomahawk's just to bomb Libya.  Countries as massive as the PRC and RF would require a significant number of the US's B-2/F-22 force.  Probably limited by the % the US would want to risk as opposed to the number required for tasking.  Consequently, there would also be a significant # of tankers involved.

There would likely be many anchors to maintain.  The heavy bombers need to refuel en-route and they would be traveling in radio silence so several en-route paths would need anchors.  There would be several anchors fairly close to the border to support the strike packages multiple ingress and egress paths.  These close-in anchors would be there to support SAR missions as well.  Tankers often need to overfly hostile territory to meet and fuel planes that otherwise would not make it home. Many pilots owed the success of their missions - and some their lives - to being refueled by tankers who came and got them.

It's these close-in anchors that require highly survivable tankers.  What's it worth to the US to ensure a USD7.5Billion strike package of 3 B-2's and 6 F-22's gets fuel?  And that's just one group.  Two groups, 15Billion (& 30% of the B-2 force).  What's it worth to ensure the SAR teams have fuel to get lost pilots out?  How many B-2 pilots are there?

It's a no brainer to build - basically - a stealthy C-130.  Something that can run cargo to improvised "highway" airstrips, provide SAR and strike package refueling etc.  A stealthy MQ-25 would have assisted in this mission but perhaps the Navy felt they didn't have the capabilities to maintain the RAM.

Until that aircraft is available a B-21 tanker variant seems technologically feasible and is worth building considering the risks mentioned above. 









5
The Bar / Re: Atmospheric Lens
« Last post by Rafael on Today at 05:42:45 am »
Reminds me of an old (80s IIRC) project called Combat Eye. Saw a video of it years ago, but seems to have vanished.
6
The Bar / Re: Atmospheric Lens
« Last post by sferrin on Today at 05:24:19 am »
I have more than a little skepticism whether this idea could work.  They are trying to heat a patch of air with a precise lateral gradient profile in order to change the index of refraction and bend the light in a controlled manner.  Time constants for transverse mixing and the long focal cone of the light from the source to the plane of the lens would make it difficult to constrain the heating at a specific range.  I wonder if the marketing folks got ahead of the R&D department.  I haven't heard of anyone demonstrating this concept in a lab test.

Soviet researchers & engineers went pretty far in testing related "plasma weapons" technologies in the 1980s at TsNPO Vympel (ex OKB-30, later  renamed MRTI) using MW technology, under Academician Rimili Avramenko. Vympel collaborated a lot with Strella (Almaz Research and Production Association) on what appeared to be the Soviet response to SDI, the so-called "Fon-2" program. This is history but still bears a lot of interest in the present context. Plasma weapons. Plasmoids. AIMs (Artificial Ionospheric Mirrors)… Combined discharges…

A.

I have a book I haven't seen in ages called "Beam Weapons".  I think it was put out by the Dept of Energy back in the 80s.  Talked about plasmoids, generating huge power spikes with nuclear weapons, etc.
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Aerospace / Re: SAC 'Divine Eagle' HALE AEW UAV
« Last post by VTOLicious on Today at 02:20:11 am »
Беспилотный летательный аппарат (варианты)
Unmanned aerial vehicles (variants)

http://www.findpatent.ru/patent/221/2213024.html

 ::)
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The Bar / Re: Atmospheric Lens
« Last post by antigravite on Today at 01:49:58 am »
I have more than a little skepticism whether this idea could work.  They are trying to heat a patch of air with a precise lateral gradient profile in order to change the index of refraction and bend the light in a controlled manner.  Time constants for transverse mixing and the long focal cone of the light from the source to the plane of the lens would make it difficult to constrain the heating at a specific range.  I wonder if the marketing folks got ahead of the R&D department.  I haven't heard of anyone demonstrating this concept in a lab test.

Soviet researchers & engineers went pretty far in testing related "plasma weapons" technologies in the 1980s at TsNPO Vympel (ex OKB-30, later  renamed MRTI) using MW technology, under Academician Rimili Avramenko. Vympel collaborated a lot with Strella (Almaz Research and Production Association) on what appeared to be the Soviet response to SDI, the so-called "Fon-2" program. This is history but still bears a lot of interest in the present context. Plasma weapons. Plasmoids. AIMs (Artificial Ionospheric Mirrors)… Combined discharges… 

A.
9
The Bar / Re: Atmospheric Lens
« Last post by antigravite on Today at 01:40:56 am »
Hi.

This really is a very interesting concept.

It draws upon several ideas and concepts initially devised by AVCO Everett R&D head, A Kantrowicz, in the late 1950s within the framework od project GLIPAR (at a time when lasers were not known yet but ray beamery as fashionnable as it was in the mid-1930s).

This concept aims at creating something like a patched ionospheric artificial mirror (AIM) at other select altitudes. There are many constraints.
- IR optical windows
- thermal blooming

However this does not seem infeasible it this technology uses "combined discharges", i.e. a very smart combination of self-focussing laser beam WITH microwaves.
The laser beam would be used to seed (create) the optical discharge while the MW would be used to keep it "alive" minimizing energy costs, and avoiding O2 attachment phenomena (recombination) over a larger illuminated (weakly ionized) atmospheric volume. What is required is a glow discharge.

Possible ways to achieve the intended technology would use nanosecond or femtosecond pulse discharge lasers (very short pulses) with many risks of optical discharges and/or blooming along the path which makes this technology very differnt if it is based on the ground or up the skies.

Interesting anyway.

A.

10
Aerospace / Re: NEW DARPA VTOL X-Prize
« Last post by VTOLicious on Today at 01:18:42 am »
How to Make a Vertical-Takeoff Plane That Doesn’t Suck
Q&A with DARPA’s Dr. Ashish Bagai (Tactical Technology Office (TTO) Program Manager)

https://warisboring.com/how-to-make-a-vertical-takeoff-plane-that-doesn-t-suck-acd6ff53e74b#.vp44ubysw
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