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Author Topic: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker  (Read 18301 times)

Offline Flyaway

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Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« on: September 20, 2016, 02:00:27 pm »
They could skip the KC-Y competition and go straight to the KC-Z.

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/air-force-could-pursue-stealthy-penetrating-kc-z-tanker
« Last Edit: September 21, 2016, 10:09:41 am by Flyaway »

Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2016, 02:35:19 pm »
Stealth tanker?  Why not just save time and money and cancel that plan right now.  This should be the KC-Y:

"DARPA Hard"  It ain't what it use to be.

Offline flateric

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2016, 04:15:19 pm »
This is not a LO platform. There's another though.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 04:17:54 pm by flateric »
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Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2016, 05:29:31 pm »
Looks cool but too expensive.  Sometimes I wonder if there's somebody who's sole function is to come up with ways that guarantee program cancellation.
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Offline Dynoman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2016, 06:13:13 pm »
Stealthy Mobility and Support Aircraft

Offline FighterJock

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2016, 08:07:49 am »
What would happen to the Flying Boom once it had refueled a fighter or bomber?  Looks rather cool if I say so myself.   B)

Offline AeroFranz

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2016, 09:14:09 am »
- the UARRSI receptacle is not stealthy, otherwise B-2s, F-117s, F-22 would not have that feature retractable.
- Flying booms are not stealthy
- two aircraft flying in formation more than double the individual RCS

so you can make a stealthy receiver and a stealthy tanker airframes, but how do you make a stealthy connection and transfer of fuel?
I dunno, i don't see penetrating assets refueling inside contested air space...i could see a reduction of the standoff distance required, that yes.
Not saying it can't be done, just that the physics and the penalties associated are against you.
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Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2016, 09:44:10 am »
Stealthy Mobility and Support Aircraft


Let's face it.  The idea isn't that you're flying a tanker into the middle of a high-threat environment.  It's that the high-threat environment is extending to where tankers have typically flown.  The expectation is that high-threat will be - or is - 600-1000nmi out from targets.  The adversary will by-pass your fighters to eliminate the tankers leaving the fighters w/o fuel to return.  This leaves several billion dollars of strike package that will take forever to replace likely floating in the ocean somewhere. 

But let's look at some options.

Flying a KC-46 into a high threat environment.  Designed for a low to medium threat environment.

KC-46 - US$250Million a pop - ~200k lbs of fuel - 200 planned inventory - Critical asset
Upside
1)  Existing tanker

Downside
1)  You can't bolt on enough stuff to ensure it's survivable in a high-threat environment.  At most you'll 'augment' it's capabilities. It's a big, fat RCS target even when it's not fueling.
2)  You'll assign an air patrol to protect these assets.  That increases the value/costs of KC-46 by the value of the other airframes. (4-F-35's valued at ~US$400Million)
3)  Integrate into naval defensive systems.  Add weapons systems. Add a weapons officer. - Serious development costs.  Still a big fat target.

Make the MQ-25 stealthy - Use it as a connector for the KC-46.  KC-46 stays back, MQ-25's deploy forward coming back to KC-46 for fill ups. 
1)  Won't have a boom - AF is left stranded. 
2)  Navy seems to have little interest in this.  Not likely to be successful.

Build tanker variant of B-21

KA-21 (Tanker/Attack B-21 variant) - ~US$500Million - ~150k+lbs of fuel - limited inventory - Critical asset
Upside
1)  Designed for high threat environment.  When it's not fueling it's not there.  Will disappear quickly.
2)  Designed for unmanned operations
3)  Airframe in development w/2025-28 IoC
4)  Additional airframes or variant of B-21 will lower acquisition, operations and upgrade costs of strategic bomber fleet.
5)  Forward deployed sensor fusion - assists in it's own defense - no need for HVACAP
6)  If it uses F-35 code - AEGIS & F-35 weapons integration.
7)  Limit 1st version to boom only (dev costs) - Navy has MQ-25
8)  Leverage NG's autonomous aerial refueling knowledge
9)  Possibly replace co-pilot w/boom operator leveraging unmanned operations tech in lieu of co-pilot.

Downside
1)  Seems expensive - tough sell
2)  Have to work w/Boeing to develop new boom - telescoping to fit in area of bomb bay perhaps. 
3)  Add boom operator for initial version - dev program to work toward autonomous system

EDIT - Expect NG would work w/Airbus on the refueling boom.  I'm guessing that Boeing would have absolutely zero motivation to work with 'NG' on this. 


« Last Edit: September 21, 2016, 09:53:39 am by NeilChapman »

Online marauder2048

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2016, 11:14:22 am »
- the UARRSI receptacle is not stealthy, otherwise B-2s, F-117s, F-22 would not have that feature retractable.
- Flying booms are not stealthy
- two aircraft flying in formation more than double the individual RCS

so you can make a stealthy receiver and a stealthy tanker airframes, but how do you make a stealthy connection and transfer of fuel?
I dunno, i don't see penetrating assets refueling inside contested air space...i could see a reduction of the standoff distance required, that yes.
Not saying it can't be done, just that the physics and the penalties associated are against you.


My understanding is that a hose-reel system for B-2 -> F-22 refueling was seriously examined more than a decade ago and was shown to meet the survivability requirements.
It only fell down on the retrofit costs for both aircraft.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2016, 09:04:56 pm by marauder2048 »

Offline AeroFranz

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2016, 06:37:50 pm »
Interesting - i had never heard of that.
Do you know if it was a probe and drogue setup just like the Navy's or somehow it plugged into the current receptacle?
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Offline Dynoman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2016, 07:07:22 pm »
A couple more images of stealth tanker concepts:

Online marauder2048

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2016, 09:14:31 pm »
Interesting - i had never heard of that.
Do you know if it was a probe and drogue setup just like the Navy's or somehow it plugged into the current receptacle?

It was to be a probe retrofit for the F-22. This was during the era of Northrop Grumman's unsolicited B-2C proposal.

Offline Hood

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2016, 01:56:46 am »
I'm slightly confused as to where the KC-Z fits in and concepts like the Arsenal Plane.

According to a recent quote from Flightglobal Brig Gen Alexus Grynkewich, team lead for the 2030 air superiority study, said he sees the Arsenal Plane as a large platform with a heavy payload that would not need to be manoeuvrable or stealthy because its long-range would ensure its survival; “An Arsenal Plane is something that’s large, long-range, not very manoeuvrable, [with] very long weapons.”

So is KC-Z designed to go ahead of the Arsenal Plane? At what point do your tanker assets need to be ahead of your strike package. Of course the F-35s and F-22s need to be ahead of the arsenal plane to provide it with the targeting data, but the concept of the Arsenal Plane gives them some stand-off capability. A stealthy KC-Z would give the fighters more loiter time perhaps but it seems an odd choice.
Though I must admit the Arsenal Plane seems the odd one out, there seems to be some overlap, F35 + AP and B21 + PCAP; in effect a fighter-led strike package and a fighter-supported strike package.
Just trying to make sense of the choices or is the DoD just chucking around ideas?

Offline Archibald

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2016, 02:13:30 am »
Sounds obvious to me - There is a very simple way of having a stealth tanker. Just put some fuel tanks in a Northrop B-2A bomb bays, and use the Navy probe-and-drogue system (no need for a fixed boom)
According to Wikipedia,
Quote
The B-2 is capable of carrying 40,000 lb (18,000 kg) of ordnance

Not a lot of fuel, but well enough for a F-35 or even a F-22.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2016, 02:15:35 am by Archibald »
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Offline hesham

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2016, 05:48:17 am »
A couple more images of stealth tanker concepts:

Nice find my dear Dynoman.

Offline TomS

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2016, 06:14:12 am »
Sounds obvious to me - There is a very simple way of having a stealth tanker. Just put some fuel tanks in a Northrop B-2A bomb bays, and use the Navy probe-and-drogue system (no need for a fixed boom)

And retrofit every F-22 and USAF F-35 with a probe instead of (or in addition to) a receptacle.  Suddenly not so trivial a process.


Offline kagemusha

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2016, 09:19:57 am »
Why not a KB-21 with fuel tanks into the bomb bay and a retractable boom?

Offline FighterJock

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2016, 10:29:14 am »
Why not a KB-21 with fuel tanks into the bomb bay and a retractable boom?

That could work if the USAF puts up a future requirement, just look at what happened to the RAF V-Force bombers towards the end of their lives?  They were converted to tankers.

Online marauder2048

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2016, 12:44:45 pm »
Sounds obvious to me - There is a very simple way of having a stealth tanker. Just put some fuel tanks in a Northrop B-2A bomb bays, and use the Navy probe-and-drogue system (no need for a fixed boom)
According to Wikipedia,
Quote
The B-2 is capable of carrying 40,000 lb (18,000 kg) of ordnance

Not a lot of fuel, but well enough for a F-35 or even a F-22.

Part of the question might be: what was the planned operating empty weight of the B-2C?

Offline _Del_

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2016, 03:08:45 pm »
I would think a true "stealth" tanker would be very low on the priority list for a service which desperately needs to recapitalize nearly every facet of its fleet.
A big flying wing might make some sense and incorporate some signature reduction methods, but a truly stealthy tanker seems like a giant waste of money and a guarantee for delays and cancelation.
Does a B-2 have a useful offload capacity? I wouldn't think so.

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2016, 03:11:04 pm »
Sounds obvious to me - There is a very simple way of having a stealth tanker. Just put some fuel tanks in a Northrop B-2A bomb bays, and use the Navy probe-and-drogue system (no need for a fixed boom)
According to Wikipedia,
Quote
The B-2 is capable of carrying 40,000 lb (18,000 kg) of ordnance

Not a lot of fuel, but well enough for a F-35 or even a F-22.

upside
B-2 carries ~170klbs of its own fuel.  As a tanker it wouldn't need a 6000 mi range.

downside
B-2 is a 35yo design.  All tech has come a long way since then (engines RAM etc)
B-2 carries MOP.  I wouldn't expect B-21 to have that capability.
B-2 is a pig for maintenance - also needs unique hangers.  Tankers need to operate from more widespread locations.
There is no existing production line.  Retrofitting a single-purpose built aircraft is extremely expensive.   
US has ~100 (97?) combat coded bombers.  Retrofitting a US$2billion aircraft that has life left as a bomber and constitutes ~15-20% of that figure won't happen

It may be that the B-21 maintenance will also be a pig.  But I doubt it.  It's one reason I like the T/A-21 variant idea.

The biggest reason I like the T/A-21 idea is that the US is already spending US$23.5Billion on EMD for B-21.  The subcontractors, assembly line and workers are being lined up.  Creating a T/A variant is going to be much cheaper than developing a new stealth airframe of about the same size.  B-21 will probably carry 150k lbs of it's own fuel.  Modifying it for a tanker/attack variant is not a herculean effort. 

I wouldn't expect a T/A-21 to carry it's own armament.  T/A-21 would defend itself by providing targeting information for munitions from other systems then vanish 'like a f*rt in the wind'.  Those systems would include any of the ~1,000 US F-35's (by 2030), AEGIS systems and perhaps even some type of future arsenal platform such as a variant of the AC-130.








Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2016, 04:01:54 pm »
I would think a true "stealth" tanker would be very low on the priority list for a service which desperately needs to recapitalize nearly every facet of its fleet.
A big flying wing might make some sense and incorporate some signature reduction methods, but a truly stealthy tanker seems like a giant waste of money and a guarantee for delays and cancelation.
Does a B-2 have a useful offload capacity? I wouldn't think so.



Programs take a decade to complete.  In some cases two.

Building a stealthy tanker is already part of the AF tanker development plan.  Perhaps they're making a case to skip KC-Y to actually save the development costs and skip directly to KC-Z utilizing the B-21 platform.  We all know that Boeing has spent ~US7Billion on modifying an existing platform.  It's not even a new airframe.  I write it but I still can't believe it.  I'm guessing no-one wants to go back to Boeing for a KC-Y platform for precisely the reason you stated - too many pressing priorities.  As a result, KC-46 will be around for 50+ years.

Skipping KC-Y for KC-Z is just recognizing the reality of the expected A2/AD expansion and the need to fuel 4th and 5th gen fighters within that expanded A2/AD area.  If one wants US Air supremacy in that environment in the 2030 timeframe a B-21 variant is likely the only viable option for a large stealthy tanker.  The US method of war fighting doesn't work without air supremacy.











Offline Rhinocrates

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2016, 06:36:18 pm »
A B-21 tanker variant would be expensive and have relatively low capacity, but not all tanker missions would be flown in contested airspace, so I could imagine an unmanned B-21 variant specialised to loiter at high altitude on the edge of the battle space and offer top-ups while the majority of the tanker force is non-stealthy.

As for Boeing having little incentive to work with NG on developing a boom, it would be a shortly-to-be-unemployed CEO that would let spite get in the way of an opportunity to make money, I would think.
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Offline TomS

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2016, 06:40:40 pm »
... I like the T/A-21 variant idea.

Just to nitpick, the designation of such an aircraft would be KB-21.  The basic mission designation (B for bomber) doesn't change and the modified mission designation for tankers is K, not T (that's for trainers).


Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2016, 06:58:56 pm »
... I like the T/A-21 variant idea.

Just to nitpick, the designation of such an aircraft would be KB-21.  The basic mission designation (B for bomber) doesn't change and the modified mission designation for tankers is K, not T (that's for trainers).

Thanks T -

If it were a variant with no bomber capacity would it still carry the B designation? 

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2016, 10:31:53 pm »
A B-21 tanker variant would be expensive and have relatively low capacity,


If the expanded A2/AD risk in 2030 is as portrayed then I don't think it is expensive relative to the risk.
It's not expensive compared to potentially losing pilots, an entire strike package of aircraft or multiple 46's.
It's certainly not expensive compared to the risk of no at-will air superiority.
KC-46 is ~US$250Million a copy.  B-21 is ~US$511Million a copy for 100 jets.  More jets would be lower per unit costs.

Low capacity compared to the KC-10 but not KC-135 or KC-46.  Recall that tankers don't typically separate their fuel from that which they pump.  There was a KC-135 version that did but that was because it carried JP-4 as well as JP-7 for the SR-71.  The B-21 is speculated to have a 5000nmi range.  That's not including the estimated 30k lbs of bomb load.  Don't know what the pumps and boom would weigh but I'm sure they're not light.  Might even use up that 'bomb' load capacity.

KC-135 -           ~200,000lbs of fuel
KC-10               ~350,000lbs
KC-46               ~200,000lbs
K-21 variant est ~150,000+lbs 

Granted it wouldn't serve a transport role as the 135, 10 and 46 but it would serve a niche that is needed in the not to distant future.


but not all tanker missions would be flown in contested airspace, so I could imagine an unmanned B-21 variant specialised to loiter at high altitude on the edge of the battle space and offer top-ups while the majority of the tanker force is non-stealthy.


That's what I was thinking.  USAF is still flying 415 KC-135's - model is ~55 years old.  USAF will have 25 more years of KC-10's.  USAF will have 50+ years of KC-46.  This variant would be an augmentation of the tanker fleet for those highly-contested environments.  The K-21 could run back out at will and gas up from 10's, or 46's. 

Risk is mitigated by showing your opponents that while they have expanded the A2/AD area, the US can still achieve air superiority at will.  You need enough K variants to ensure your opponent is not confident they can overwhelm your advantage - even for a short term gain.


As for Boeing having little incentive to work with NG on developing a boom, it would be a shortly-to-be-unemployed CEO that would let spite get in the way of an opportunity to make money, I would think.

Well, let me qualify.  If I were NG I'd work with Airbus on the boom.  One would be loath to work w/a company that requires US$7Billion for EMD on an existing airframe to be a tanker especially when the work was done 40 years ago for the KC-10. 

This boom would likely be somewhat different than that used in the past anyway.  May need to telescope more radically (bomb bay length limit) and you'd certainly want it to retract back into that space.  It may even drop down along the length of the bomb bay then extend back behind the airframe prior to a pivot down in a traditional way.  Who knows.  The fewer changes to the B-21 basic design equals less dev time, less EMD costs, less changes to production line.  You certainly don't want to change the cg.  Packaging matters.









Offline Rhinocrates

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2016, 02:00:18 am »
Thanks, very informative.
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Offline TomS

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2016, 02:52:17 am »
... I like the T/A-21 variant idea.

Just to nitpick, the designation of such an aircraft would be KB-21.  The basic mission designation (B for bomber) doesn't change and the modified mission designation for tankers is K, not T (that's for trainers).

Thanks T -

If it were a variant with no bomber capacity would it still carry the B designation?

Yep.  The basic designation stays with an aircraft design even when modified to the point that it can't perform the original mission.  To pick a relevant example, the old KB-50 tanker conversions of the B-50 bomber removed all of the plane's armament and bomb-aiming equipment but the B designation remained. 

Offline FighterJock

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2016, 08:04:59 am »
A couple more images of stealth tanker concepts:

Of the two designs above the one that I think that has the most going for it would be the Blended Winged Body tanker.  Also would it really be able to refuel two F-22As at the same time?

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2016, 11:52:35 am »
A couple more images of stealth tanker concepts:

Of the two designs above the one that I think that has the most going for it would be the Blended Winged Body tanker.  Also would it really be able to refuel two F-22As at the same time?



Seems like the two most limiting issues in fueling fighters is refueling rate, rate the receiver can take on fuel, and time waiting for your turn at the pump.  For fighters needing fuel every hour or so it's a logistical bottle-neck that takes them away from their cap mission.

Having two booms would be a game changer for refueling fighters.

The concern w/two booms is not refueling fighters but having three large aircraft in such close proximity.  If the solution is limited to fighters as receivers then it's much less of a problem.

Current tanker solutions are a combination of cargo and tanker requirements.  So the tanker has to be large enough to participate in the AMC requirement.  There just aren't enough C-17's and C-5's to meet the 1-4-2-1 needs.

At some point USAF will want a stealthy tanker w/C-17 capabilities and size.  With current stealth tech this is going to be extremely expensive.  This is why the KB-21 variant interests me as an interim solution. 

I'd be interested in a dual boom KB-21 based solution as perhaps a Block-20/30 target after autonomous boom refueling is perfected.  That aircraft would not need a boom operator and by then the lessons of initial, low risk Block 10 aircraft would be integrated into the tanker fleet.  That aircraft might have larger wings to accommodate the retracting dual boom design with perhaps wet tanks along the center of the airframe.  The unmanned capabilities of B-21 would also be further along should it make sense for KB-21.







Online marauder2048

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #30 on: September 23, 2016, 01:08:58 pm »
I think most of the blended wing body proposals (that the AF has funded at least) have had notional tanker variants.

Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #31 on: September 23, 2016, 03:48:48 pm »
The obvious solution is right here.  Tanker, transport, and cruise missile carrier, all in one.  And cheaper than a "stealth" tanker. 
"DARPA Hard"  It ain't what it use to be.

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2016, 05:56:57 pm »
The obvious solution is right here.  Tanker, transport, and cruise missile carrier, all in one.  And cheaper than a "stealth" tanker.

I like the LM design - C-5 cargo capacity with 1/2 the C-17 fuel consumption.  It's a 'technology leap' and the history of technology leaps is long development times, unexpected costs and under performance.  Like to see more risk reduction to better ensure the tech maturity is there before a program is begun.

Ran some numbers and a C-17 would be >~US$300Million including EMD costs in 2016 dollars.  Can't expect the LM design to be any less expensive in acquisition. Sounds like operational costs would be dramatically reduced though.

Don't see it going into a high contested area to bring back a receiver though.  Still see a need for a stealthy tanker (with a boom) in the 2025-2035 - if - the A2/AD projections are correct.


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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #33 on: September 23, 2016, 11:07:55 pm »
The obvious solution is right here.  Tanker, transport, and cruise missile carrier, all in one.  And cheaper than a "stealth" tanker.
And a couple hundred AMRAAMs or longer range next generation AAM cause you have lots of space now.
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Offline kaiserd

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #34 on: September 24, 2016, 12:30:03 am »
Realistically if we are talking about really survivable tanker assets to refuel in high-level contested airspace there will be the need for a multiple platform approach, while being realistic about what can be achieved.

The simplist and most obvious part of the solution would be to make greater use of buddy-refuelling; a F-35 refuelling a F-35, a B-21 refuelling a B-21, etc. This hasn't been part of US airforce culture/ thinking (luxury of large SAC sourced refuelling force) and has obvious limitations (some platforms having limited fuel loads they can give away, limiting the range extension for the receiver, etc). However has the advantage of being relatively cheap, potentialy providing many survivable platforms that are more "disposable" than a few very high cost but with higher refuelling capability platforms. Examples would include naval air arms and the French Mirage IV force (which also used KC-135 support for uncontested airspace refuelling). Not a perfect solution but part of a workable affordable solution.

A B-21 capable of refuelling a B-21 could also refuel smaller fighters but apart from relatively one-off specific missions not sure of the wider role/ utility as a more general tanker (B-21 not that big an aircraft, considerably smaller than a B-2 and with much smaller fuel load than an actual tanker aircraft - not much fuel to give away). Hence only likely to be a small niche player as a tanker.

As the range and capability of air defences improve there is an argument for making a whole range of aircraft filling a range of roles (transport, tanker, AWACS, CnC, ASW etc) more survivable so can enter future less-contested airspace. However the cost and technical challenges behind really pushing for high levels of survivability makes this a laudable but probably unrealisable goal - no one (not even China or the US) likely to prioritise this aspect, will just be another factor deterring peer powers from actually going to war with each other.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 12:44:59 am by kaiserd »

Offline TomS

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #35 on: September 24, 2016, 03:37:10 am »
The simplist and most obvious part of the solution would be to make greater use of buddy-refuelling; a F-35 refuelling a F-35, a B-21 refuelling a B-21, etc. This hasn't been part of US airforce culture/ thinking (luxury of large SAC sourced refuelling force) and has obvious limitations (some platforms having limited fuel loads they can give away, limiting the range extension for the receiver, etc). However has the advantage of being relatively cheap, potentialy providing many survivable platforms that are more "disposable" than a few very high cost but with higher refuelling capability platforms. Examples would include naval air arms and the French Mirage IV force (which also used KC-135 support for uncontested airspace refuelling).

Problem being that the USAF boom refuelling system is inherently incompatible with buddy fuelling.  You can't just strap a boom onto an aircraft in the same way you can put a hose reel in a pod and hang it from a hard point.  Even assuming the simple mechanics could be dealt with via, say, a pallet in the bomb bay, the crew skills are totally different.  The boom operator actually flies the boom onto to receiver; it's a highly specialized skill that you can't just make a secondary job for a normal navigator/copilot. 

The alternative is to switch to hose and drogue, which means a) refitting the entire Air Force and b) taking much longer to refuel large aircraft.  The USAF didn't adopt the boom just to be contrary.  It passes gas much faster than the hose and drogue approach.  Using a hose and drogue would mean staying connected and detectable for much longer in hostile airspace.

Offline kaiserd

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #36 on: September 24, 2016, 04:30:28 am »
The simplist and most obvious part of the solution would be to make greater use of buddy-refuelling; a F-35 refuelling a F-35, a B-21 refuelling a B-21, etc. This hasn't been part of US airforce culture/ thinking (luxury of large SAC sourced refuelling force) and has obvious limitations (some platforms having limited fuel loads they can give away, limiting the range extension for the receiver, etc). However has the advantage of being relatively cheap, potentialy providing many survivable platforms that are more "disposable" than a few very high cost but with higher refuelling capability platforms. Examples would include naval air arms and the French Mirage IV force (which also used KC-135 support for uncontested airspace refuelling).

Problem being that the USAF boom refuelling system is inherently incompatible with buddy fuelling.  You can't just strap a boom onto an aircraft in the same way you can put a hose reel in a pod and hang it from a hard point.  Even assuming the simple mechanics could be dealt with via, say, a pallet in the bomb bay, the crew skills are totally different.  The boom operator actually flies the boom onto to receiver; it's a highly specialized skill that you can't just make a secondary job for a normal navigator/copilot. 

The alternative is to switch to hose and drogue, which means a) refitting the entire Air Force and b) taking much longer to refuel large aircraft.  The USAF didn't adopt the boom just to be contrary.  It passes gas much faster than the hose and drogue approach.  Using a hose and drogue would mean staying connected and detectable for much longer in hostile airspace.

All reasonable points.
As stated above I appreciate it wouldn't be a perfect solution but considering the very low likelihood of any significant numbers of stealthy survivable tankers (with flying booms) ever being fielded then equipping at least part of your future deep strike force with both types of refuelling probes (and be able take fuel from Navy tankers too) has the advantages of at least being technically achievable and affordable.
And the buddy tanker would be more survivable than any likely new boom-equipped stealthy tanker/transporter.
All in all a solution scaled to the need (capability needed to help deter a major peer war but recognising the low likelihood it will be needed and if it is it won't be for long,  given likely nuclear escalation if not ended rapidly).

Offline r3mu511

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #37 on: September 24, 2016, 06:27:53 am »
- two aircraft flying in formation more than double the individual RCS

theoretically the total rcs from a collection of scatterers is the square of the phasor summation of the square-roots of the rcs of each scatterer...

so for two objects the maximum (ie. coherent sum) of the echo cross section would be (given: a=rcs of 1st object, b=rcs of 2nd object):

(a^1/2 + b^1/2)^2

if both objects had the same rcs value (ie. a=b) then the maximum coherent sum would be 4 times the rcs of the individual object...

if one object had a fractional rcs as compared to the other object's rcs, ie. b=k*a, where 0<k<1, then the coherent maximum would be:

a * (1 + k^1/2)^2

so if for example your "stealth" tanker had an rcs of 1 sqm and your fighter had an rcs of 0.001 sqm, the maximum coherent rcs of the two combined would be: ~1.06 sqm, or just a bit over 6% higher than that of the tanker alone...

if you got your tanker down to an rcs of 0.1 sqm together with the same 0.001 sqm fighter, then the coherent rcs of the two combined would be 0.121 sqm, or around 21% higher than your tanker alone...

one can also add in the rcs of the boom as a 3rd object in the system and work the math to figure out what ratios of rcs for each object in the system would be needed to get an acceptable rcs increase for the combined system over that of the tanker alone...

Offline AeroFranz

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #38 on: September 24, 2016, 07:53:08 am »
I appreciate the effort to put numbers to this - by the way, i had yet to see expressions like the ones you used in the discussion of RCS, this is very useful! The example doesn't make it sound too bad...
But just wondering if this (of necessity) simplification takes into account radar bouncing off one of the vehicles onto the second one. After all the majority of the signature reduction measures aim first and foremost at redirecting energy somewhere other than at the emitter. It seems like with multiple objects in close proximity you're going to have a hard time controlling unintended spikes. Granted, two bounces are going to decrease the amount of energy re-emitted, but I wonder if you don't unintentionally end up with an air vehicle formation which forms a corner reflector.
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Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #39 on: September 24, 2016, 08:48:18 am »
I like the LM design - C-5 cargo capacity with 1/2 the C-17 fuel consumption.  It's a 'technology leap' and the history of technology leaps is long development times, unexpected costs and under performance.  Like to see more risk reduction to better ensure the tech maturity is there before a program is begun.

I'd think this design would be less risky, and far more useful, than a full BWB or stealth solution.  Also, the only way "technology leaps" are accomplished are by doing them.  They don't come for free.

"Like to see more risk reduction to better ensure the tech maturity is there before a program is begun."

Like what?  They're already (supposedly) planning on flying a subscale X-plane.  Aside from that what else is there to be proven?  All the construction methods are already being used.  All the required avionics could be based on existing hardware.  Aside from the shape, there is no required new "tech" for this design. 
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 08:51:33 am by sferrin »
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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #40 on: September 24, 2016, 08:53:12 am »
The simplist and most obvious part of the solution would be to make greater use of buddy-refuelling; a F-35 refuelling a F-35, a B-21 refuelling a B-21, etc. This hasn't been part of US airforce culture/ thinking (luxury of large SAC sourced refuelling force) and has obvious limitations (some platforms having limited fuel loads they can give away, limiting the range extension for the receiver, etc). However has the advantage of being relatively cheap, potentialy providing many survivable platforms that are more "disposable" than a few very high cost but with higher refuelling capability platforms. Examples would include naval air arms and the French Mirage IV force (which also used KC-135 support for uncontested airspace refuelling).

Problem being that the USAF boom refuelling system is inherently incompatible with buddy fuelling.  You can't just strap a boom onto an aircraft in the same way you can put a hose reel in a pod and hang it from a hard point.  Even assuming the simple mechanics could be dealt with via, say, a pallet in the bomb bay, the crew skills are totally different.  The boom operator actually flies the boom onto to receiver; it's a highly specialized skill that you can't just make a secondary job for a normal navigator/copilot. 

The alternative is to switch to hose and drogue, which means a) refitting the entire Air Force and b) taking much longer to refuel large aircraft.  The USAF didn't adopt the boom just to be contrary.  It passes gas much faster than the hose and drogue approach.  Using a hose and drogue would mean staying connected and detectable for much longer in hostile airspace.

Buddy refueling is a terrible kludge.  (See the current USN situation where half their strike force has to be fitted out as tankers.)
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Offline r3mu511

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #41 on: September 24, 2016, 09:21:54 am »
@AeroFranz:

you can see the mathematical treatment for this in section 14.3 written by J. Shaeffer in the book "Radar Cross Section" by E. Knott... the treatment there assumed no mutual interaction between the individual scatterers (ie. no corner reflectors formed between objects, etc)...

---

corner reflection would require surfaces whose normals are perpendicular/orthogonal to each other (for the case of surface specular reflection), or edges whose normals are also perpendicular to one another (for the case of edge diffraction)... so I could imagine a case where if you had two aircraft (A and B ) flying side by side and both had wing leading edges swept back at 45 deg... given an incident wave whose direction of propagation is parallel to the fuselages would result in an edge diffraction off of aircraft A's wing leading edge which would result in a cone of diffraction with a half-angle of 45 deg which would then be incident onto the leading edge of aircraft B's wing, leading to another cone of diffraction also with a half-angle of 45 deg which would thus be in the backscatter direction, effectively giving a corner reflector for edge diffraction effects (the same result can be achieved by side by side aircraft with different leading edge sweepback angles so long as the sum of the two sweepback angles totals 90 deg)...

for the case of refueling where one aircraft is behind and slightly below the other aircraft, I can't really think of a way to form orthogonal surfaces or edges in a way to result in a corner reflector with it's axis of reflection in the forward direction...

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #42 on: September 24, 2016, 12:33:07 pm »
When the X47B was doing its aerial refuelling thing, there was talk of a low observable boom for high threat areas.

A faceted job like an RCS test pylon.

Offline Mat Parry

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #43 on: September 24, 2016, 02:35:58 pm »
When the naval demonstrator (X-47B) was doing it's hose & drogue aerial refuelling thing, a low observable boom (faceted or not) would've been virtually useless. What would it be used for?

A stealthy boom mounted on a US navy X-47B's could:
(1) refuel lost US air force aircraft?
(2) refuel other X-47B's (but no other US navy carrier platforms).

If mounted on a non stealthy platform.... oh wait!


Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #44 on: September 24, 2016, 02:56:18 pm »
I like the LM design - C-5 cargo capacity with 1/2 the C-17 fuel consumption.  It's a 'technology leap' and the history of technology leaps is long development times, unexpected costs and under performance.  Like to see more risk reduction to better ensure the tech maturity is there before a program is begun.

I'd think this design would be less risky, and far more useful, than a full BWB or stealth solution.  Also, the only way "technology leaps" are accomplished are by doing them.  They don't come for free.

"Like to see more risk reduction to better ensure the tech maturity is there before a program is begun."

Like what?  They're already (supposedly) planning on flying a subscale X-plane.  Aside from that what else is there to be proven?  All the construction methods are already being used.  All the required avionics could be based on existing hardware.  Aside from the shape, there is no required new "tech" for this design.

Autonomous refueling
Simultaneous multiple boom operations w/large aircraft
Whatever is required to ensure loads and constructed weight of a blended wing this size
Engine tech maturity - 700k lbs w/2 engines ?
STOL performance expectations
What will it's Load Classification Number (LCN) be?  # of runways available to it

I'm concerned about a 'kitchen sink' approach that takes forever to accomplish.  Would rather see meeting the perceived needs w/multiple aircraft.

There is a need for an aircraft w/a C-5 load & LCN.  Don't know if it needs the austere airfield capability as well as a tanker role.




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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #45 on: September 24, 2016, 03:24:51 pm »
Commonality between

tanker
ElInt aircraft
AEW&C aircraft
A/G radar aircraft

as was achieved with the C-135 series (Boeing 707) would be very desirable.
Stealth makes sense only for the first two, while the other two are beacons with their huge radar emissions. Those others would rather benefit greatly from a very fast platform that allows to get away from threats or delay the time till supersonic threats have a situation for a promising missile shot at the platform.
Stealth would help them only if they would switch off their radars after missile launch was detected and then run to break contact, trying to avoid that the threat platform can send correct mid course updates. Yet even then the "run" part would greatly benefit of 20-25% more speed.

So if anything I'd say rear aspect LO modifications may make sense (though that's exactly where reducing RCS is the hardest), but in general go for minimum Mach 0.9 capability (with big radar antennas and 80% fuel). Also, towed decoys.







Online marauder2048

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #46 on: September 24, 2016, 03:29:34 pm »

Engine tech maturity - 700k lbs w/2 engines ?


Where are you getting those thrust requirements? The re-engined C-5s have ~ 200k lbs
or roughly the same output you get from 2 x GE9X which the LM guys modeled (roughly via the Genx)
for the HWB. 

Online marauder2048

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #47 on: September 24, 2016, 03:46:17 pm »
Commonality between

tanker
ElInt aircraft
AEW&C aircraft
A/G radar aircraft

as was achieved with the C-135 series (Boeing 707) would be very desirable.
Stealth makes sense only for the first two, while the other two are beacons with their huge radar emissions.

Assuming the last two aren't receivers in a bistatic configuration.

Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #48 on: September 24, 2016, 05:12:00 pm »
Autonomous refueling

That's not airframe specific.  There's no reason they couldn't build a new tanker without it and implement it at a later date.  For that matter, there's no reason they couldn't do that with older tankers.

Simultaneous multiple boom operations w/large aircraft

Given that no existing tanker has multiple booms, how would you test this without building an aircraft with multiple booms?  And why would you want or need to?

Whatever is required to ensure loads and constructed weight of a blended wing this size

?????

Engine tech maturity - 700k lbs w/2 engines ?

You mean like the 777-300ER that's been flying for well over a decade?

STOL performance expectations

???

What will it's Load Classification Number (LCN) be?  # of runways available to it

Why would it be any different than any other heavy aircraft?  The runway doesn't care what's above the wheels.  Furthermore, there's nothing that says you have to have a 700,000lb aircraft, or if you do, that it needs to weigh that going into every airfield. 

I'm concerned about a 'kitchen sink' approach that takes forever to accomplish.  Would rather see meeting the perceived needs w/multiple aircraft.

Don't see how that's the case here at all.  Pretty much every tanker in the US (aside from the Super Hornet) is a tanker/cargo aircraft, hence the "KC".

There is a need for an aircraft w/a C-5 load & LCN.  Don't know if it needs the austere airfield capability as well as a tanker role.

So build the C-5 replacement as a HWB and make the KC-Z a smaller HWB. 
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Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #49 on: September 24, 2016, 05:41:39 pm »
- two aircraft flying in formation more than double the individual RCS

theoretically the total rcs from a collection of scatterers is the square of the phasor summation of the square-roots of the rcs of each scatterer...

so for two objects the maximum (ie. coherent sum) of the echo cross section would be (given: a=rcs of 1st object, b=rcs of 2nd object):

(a^1/2 + b^1/2)^2

if both objects had the same rcs value (ie. a=b) then the maximum coherent sum would be 4 times the rcs of the individual object...

if one object had a fractional rcs as compared to the other object's rcs, ie. b=k*a, where 0<k<1, then the coherent maximum would be:

a * (1 + k^1/2)^2

so if for example your "stealth" tanker had an rcs of 1 sqm and your fighter had an rcs of 0.001 sqm, the maximum coherent rcs of the two combined would be: ~1.06 sqm, or just a bit over 6% higher than that of the tanker alone...

if you got your tanker down to an rcs of 0.1 sqm together with the same 0.001 sqm fighter, then the coherent rcs of the two combined would be 0.121 sqm, or around 21% higher than your tanker alone...

one can also add in the rcs of the boom as a 3rd object in the system and work the math to figure out what ratios of rcs for each object in the system would be needed to get an acceptable rcs increase for the combined system over that of the tanker alone...

R3, thank you for running these numbers.  Any thoughts to what would happen if you added a third aircraft? 

Scenario is a four aircraft strike package converging on a tanker w/two fighters refueling on two booms simultaneously. 





Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #50 on: September 24, 2016, 08:28:09 pm »

Engine tech maturity - 700k lbs w/2 engines ?


Where are you getting those thrust requirements? The re-engined C-5s have ~ 200k lbs
or roughly the same output you get from 2 x GE9X which the LM guys modeled (roughly via the Genx)
for the HWB.

Sorry - wasn't clear.  I was talking about the max weight of the aircraft. 

I presume it starts w/where can these beasts operate.  US seems to experience a number of general limitations on moving material in wartime.
eg.
  Political limits - Countries refuse access.
  Runway strength - LCN
  Runway length for landing
  Runway length for take off
  Ramp area for the qty of aircraft
  Some airfields may be unavailable due to working Maximum On the Ground (MOG) or airfield damage
  Air mobility enterprise is dependent on commercial partners to meet surge wartime requirements

Austere airfields typically include the following

  Runways <4000ft and as narrow as 60 ft
  Payloads contained by runway length and weight bearing capacity
  Ramp space <100k sq ft w/single narrow taxiway and not turnaround areas at end of runway
  Ground support & equipment usually nonexistent

Ideally, new airframe designs will open up more airfields for operational use - not the same or less.  C-5 certainly doesn't use austere airfields.  My concern is that I wouldn't expect a 700-800k lb aircraft to have a critical field length for takeoff of ~8000ft (NATO spec) with qty 2 75k lb Genx engines.  If that's the design, I'd be concerned that weight gain during EMD would put right back where the C-5M is today.

So two concerns w/engine development.
1)  If the design is for use on austere airfields and C5 can't do it today then I don't see how 75k lb thrust GEnx accomplishes task.
2)  If design is for new C-5, concern is that 'weight gain' during EMD will get us right back to C-5 specs w/5000-6000 ft minimum runways.






Offline r3mu511

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #51 on: September 24, 2016, 08:42:22 pm »
@NeilChapman:

if you work the general equation for the case of 1 tanker and N fighters you get (again this is assuming no mutual interaction between scatterers, so no corner reflectors formed between objects, etc):

given:

a = rcs of tanker
b = rcs of fighter = some fraction of tanker rcs = k*a, where 0<k<1
n = no. of fighters

total echo cross section = a * (1 + n*k^1/2)^2

so for two fighters = a * (1 + 2*k^1/2)^2

using the rcs values in the previous example, "stealth" tanker rcs of 1 sqm, fighter rcs of 0.001 sqm, then total echo area is ~1.13 sqm, around ~13% higher than the tanker alone...

if tanker rcs is smaller at 0.1 sqm, fighter rcs is still 0.001 sqm, then total echo area is 0.144 sqm, 44% higher than the tanker alone...

---

if you explicitly include boom rcs in the system:

c = boom rcs = some fraction of tanker rcs = p*a, where 0<p<1

then the equation for 1 tanker, 2 fighters, with 2 booms would be:

a * (1 + 2*k^1/2 + 2*p^1/2)^2

if you used for example, tanker rcs of 1 sqm, fighter rcs of 0.001 sqm, and boom rcs of 0.002 sqm (boom isn't as "stealthy" as your fighter), then the total echo area would be ~1.33 sqm, 33% higher than the tanker alone...

for a smaller tanker rcs of 0.1 sqm and with the same fighter and boom rcs used previously, total area is now ~0.22 sqm, a full ~2.2x larger than that of the tanker alone...

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #52 on: September 24, 2016, 09:20:57 pm »
Autonomous refueling

1.  That's not airframe specific.  There's no reason they couldn't build a new tanker without it and implement it at a later date.  For that matter, there's no reason they couldn't do that with older tankers.

Simultaneous multiple boom operations w/large aircraft

2.  Given that no existing tanker has multiple booms, how would you test this without building an aircraft with multiple booms?  And why would you want or need to?

Whatever is required to ensure loads and constructed weight of a blended wing this size

3.  ?????

Engine tech maturity - 700k lbs w/2 engines ?

4.  You mean like the 777-300ER that's been flying for well over a decade?

STOL performance expectations

5.  ???

What will it's Load Classification Number (LCN) be?  # of runways available to it

6.  Why would it be any different than any other heavy aircraft?  The runway doesn't care what's above the wheels.  Furthermore, there's nothing that says you have to have a 700,000lb aircraft, or if you do, that it needs to weigh that going into every airfield. 

I'm concerned about a 'kitchen sink' approach that takes forever to accomplish.  Would rather see meeting the perceived needs w/multiple aircraft.

7.  Don't see how that's the case here at all.  Pretty much every tanker in the US (aside from the Super Hornet) is a tanker/cargo aircraft, hence the "KC".

There is a need for an aircraft w/a C-5 load & LCN.  Don't know if it needs the austere airfield capability as well as a tanker role.

8.  So build the C-5 replacement as a HWB and make the KC-Z a smaller HWB.

1.  Wasn't suggesting it's aircraft specific.  It's an advantage that reduces complexity/crew in the mission and if you want it it should work prior to having airframes waiting for the tech.  Sort of like the AAG problems on the Ford-Class.

2.  a.  I'm not an AE but I expect it can be modeled then tested.  b.  Lot's of airspace and ramp space around a tanker.  Also reduces wait times for fighters on cap missions or striking time sensitive targets of opportunity.  Strike mission of 4 F-35's refueling time cut in half + requires two tankers today increasing airspace and ramp space.

3.  Can they build a blended wing this size that meets the load requirements within the weight target or will it end up heavier which cuts into aircraft capability?

4.  777 has a 10k foot takeoff requirement.  NATO spec is for 8k foot runways.  Austere is 4k ft.

5.  LM provided fuel savings and load info.  Provide specs comparing it to C-5 or C-17 for other design expectations like runway requirements, single engine takeoff limits at specific temp requirements, fuel load at max load, etc etc.

6.  I agree.  C-5 was designed to fly into unimproved airfields.  AF doesn't use it for that because the MCR has been so crappy, it's not capable of reversing unless it's basically empty and engine blast creates a FOD hazard.  If the LM proposal is basically for outsized material only and will fly into basically the same 5 pacific en route airfields and still won't do airdrop missions then set that exception up front.

7.  LM proposal looks like a C-5 replacement w/tanker thrown in - hence kitchen sink comment.  There are divergent requirements for inter-theater lift vs intra-theater lift vs tanker cargo augmentation.  It will be incumbent upon the USAF to set requirements and not change them - and not want a 100% solution.

8.  Whatever fits the mission.  Just want the technology maturity (for whatever particular purpose) to be there prior to getting started on the new airframe.






Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #53 on: September 24, 2016, 09:50:26 pm »
@NeilChapman:


if tanker rcs is smaller at 0.1 sqm, fighter rcs is still 0.001 sqm, then total echo area is 0.144 sqm, 44% higher than the tanker alone...

---

for a smaller tanker rcs of 0.1 sqm and with the same fighter and boom rcs used previously, total area is now ~0.22 sqm, a full ~2.2x larger than that of the tanker alone...

Thanks for doing that!

Isn't that still pretty low compared to the RCS of a KC-46 which is probably, what, 100?

This rcs would allow the stealth tanker to operate much closer to the battlespace than the KC-46 - no?  Perhaps with the advantage that should a threat approach the stealth tanker can button up and disappear - or - use whatever remote weapons systems control the b-21 will have (same as F-35?) to engage the threat.

Well, it's a lot of conjecture.  Too many 'ifs'.



Offline CiTrus90

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #54 on: September 25, 2016, 01:26:33 am »
Just thinking out of the box here: wouldn't creating and deploying a dedicated LaWS interceptor, maybe based on the B-21 platform, and flying close to tankers, solve the issue without the need for building a complex large stealth aircraft for the tanker role?

You'd just have a laser equipped aircraft (stealth in this case) working as a sort of goalie for all kind of threats to the tanker force, which could then fly pretty much in the same way they've usally done.

Moreover, I suppose laser weapons will be operational between early to late 2020's, while developing a large stealth tanker would at least take 15 to 20 years (being overly optimistic...) from now.

And while at it add ECM capabilities to said LaWS interceptor.
Regards.

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Offline AeroFranz

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #55 on: September 25, 2016, 05:33:27 am »
@ r3mu511: thanks for the reverence and working out the examples  :D
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Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #56 on: September 25, 2016, 07:40:46 am »
1.  Wasn't suggesting it's aircraft specific.  It's an advantage that reduces complexity/crew in the mission and if you want it it should work prior to having airframes waiting for the tech.  Sort of like the AAG problems on the Ford-Class.

There's no reason to hold up hardware development while waiting on software, when one isn't dependent on the other.  A new tanker can function just fine without autonomy, or reduced manning.  You're holding up production of the 2017 Corvette while waiting for the perfect sound system to come along.  It's not justifiable.

2.  a.  I'm not an AE but I expect it can be modeled then tested.  b.  Lot's of airspace and ramp space around a tanker.  Also reduces wait times for fighters on cap missions or striking time sensitive targets of opportunity.  Strike mission of 4 F-35's refueling time cut in half + requires two tankers today increasing airspace and ramp space.

The point remains: how are you going to test an aircraft with two booms without building an aircraft with two booms?  Any aircraft you tried to scab two booms on wouldn't be a BWB and therefore the results would be of limited use. 

3.  Can they build a blended wing this size that meets the load requirements within the weight target or will it end up heavier which cuts into aircraft capability?

How will you know without doing?  How do you know what you propose isn't already being worked?

4.  777 has a 10k foot takeoff requirement.  NATO spec is for 8k foot runways.  Austere is 4k ft.

And?  Your comment was about the viability of a 700k twin.  You just tacked on shorter runways after the fact, but that really changes nothing.  It's a function of lift, drag, and power, all of which can be dealt with. 

5.  LM provided fuel savings and load info.  Provide specs comparing it to C-5 or C-17 for other design expectations like runway requirements, single engine takeoff limits at specific temp requirements, fuel load at max load, etc etc.

See above.

7.LM proposal looks like a C-5 replacement w/tanker thrown in - hence kitchen sink comment.  There are divergent requirements for inter-theater lift vs intra-theater lift vs tanker cargo augmentation.  It will be incumbent upon the USAF to set requirements and not change them - and not want a 100% solution.

Are the KC-135, 10, 130, and 46 "kitchen sink replacements"?  Why would this be any different?

8.  Whatever fits the mission.  Just want the technology maturity (for whatever particular purpose) to be there prior to getting started on the new airframe.

Powerpoint only takes you so far.  A big part of the problem things are so expensive anymore, and progress is so slow, is because we're terrified of risk and would prefer to endlessly navel-gaze.  And no, nobody is proposing we be reckless.  (Unless you consider those who produced the Blackbird, F-117, 747, XB-70, KC-135, B-52 etc. etc. etc. "reckless"?)  The HWB could easily be done with today's technology.  The only thing in question is the shape which is being tested with a demonstrator. 
« Last Edit: September 25, 2016, 08:54:25 am by sferrin »
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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #57 on: September 25, 2016, 07:58:31 am »
Isn't that still pretty low compared to the RCS of a KC-46 which is probably, what, 100?

Maybe rather 10 sq m.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/stealth-aircraft-rcs.htm

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #58 on: September 25, 2016, 10:33:57 am »
Isn't that still pretty low compared to the RCS of a KC-46 which is probably, what, 100?

Maybe rather 10 sq m.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/stealth-aircraft-rcs.htm

Guess I figured KC-46 would be closer to B-52 than B-1.  Dimensions are similar and it's a wide-bodied jet whereas the B-1 has that nice narrow frontal aspect.




Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #59 on: September 25, 2016, 11:24:32 am »

There's no reason to hold up hardware development while waiting on software, when one isn't dependent on the other.  A new tanker can function just fine without autonomy, or reduced manning.  You're holding up production of the 2017 Corvette while waiting for the perfect sound system to come along.  It's not justifiable.

Well - that was the plan for F-35. 

I disagree with your premise.  But I don't hold it against you.   ;)


The point remains: how are you going to test an aircraft with two booms without building an aircraft with two booms?  Any aircraft you tried to scab two booms on wouldn't be a BWB and therefore the results would be of limited use. 


Don't know.  If the requirement is formulated such that dual-boom is only for smaller aircraft then it's moot.  USAF dual fuels fighters daily today via drogue.  Much less critical to dual fuel aircraft on long inter-theater runs.


How will you know without doing?  How do you know what you propose isn't already being worked?


That's my point.  I hope it is.


And?  Your comment was about the viability of a 700k twin.  You just tacked on shorter runways after the fact, but that really changes nothing.  It's a function of lift, drag, and power, all of which can be dealt with. 


Comment was about viability of C-5 size replacement that is part of the Air Mobility Command. 

Yep - Hate to have an airframe that, by design, is close to the margins in its ability to meet the mission requirements prior to EMD.  Weight tends to grow when providing engineering solutions to problems encountered during EMD.  So this includes the engines planned for the aircraft.  Engines seem to take the longest to develop.  Perhaps it's a no-brainer to scale up a GEnx to 100k lbs of thrust - don't know.  I'm sure you're right that it can be dealt with.  Rather it's before there's a plane waiting for the solution.



Are the KC-135, 10, 130, and 46 "kitchen sink replacements"?  Why would this be any different?


They are primarily tankers w/a cargo augmentation.  The aircraft the size of a C-5 is primarily an outsized cargo aircraft.  You just can't fill it with enough pallets to get close to it's load capability so maybe adding a tanker capability makes sense.  But it may be that it wouldn't be used enough in that context to make it worth the added costs.  It may be that it takes up too much space on the ramp.  The question is whether it 'works' as a tanker in the AMC model for moving equipment around the world. 


Powerpoint only takes you so far.  A big part of the problem things are so expensive anymore, and progress is so slow, is because we're terrified of risk and would prefer to endlessly navel-gaze. And no, nobody is proposing we be reckless.  (Unless you consider those who produced the Blackbird, F-117, 747, XB-70, KC-135, B-52 etc. etc. etc. "reckless"?)  The HWB could easily be done with today's technology.  The only thing in question is the shape which is being tested with a demonstrator.

I'd disagree.  There is a reality that B-2, F-22 and F-35 all took an extremely long time to produce.  Changing specs and co-development are significant factors.  US built US$48Billion worth of MRAPS very quickly.  B-21 is hopefully a 10 yrs IOC (still too long).  I like what's going on today where US is looking around to see how they can reuse existing solutions to meet new requirements. 

Critical point is that there are other ways of doing things.  Come up with the business case for what's needed and see if you've got the tech to accomplish it.  If not, change the strategy of accomplishing the business case and start a program to buy-down the risk on the preferred solution for future development.

Can't wait to see the demonstrator.

Offline Sundog

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #60 on: September 26, 2016, 08:16:34 pm »
It seems to me that this could be one for NG to have the advantage on, by modifying the B-21 into a tanker. It may not be ideal for the specs, but if they can offer it at substantially lower cost due to using a common airframe, since it will be going into production, it would also lower operational costs. BTW, was it Northrop that demonstrated the unmanned hose and drogue refueling technique?

Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #61 on: September 27, 2016, 04:25:27 am »

There's no reason to hold up hardware development while waiting on software, when one isn't dependent on the other.  A new tanker can function just fine without autonomy, or reduced manning.  You're holding up production of the 2017 Corvette while waiting for the perfect sound system to come along.  It's not justifiable.

Well - that was the plan for F-35. 

I disagree with your premise.  But I don't hold it against you.   ;)

Cheap shot.  The F-35 REQUIRES its software to perform its mission.  The software required to perform autonomous refueling needn't be a requirement out of the box.  A KC-Z could be a great success without ever getting software for autonomous refueling at all.  In other words, apples and oranges.  Also orders of magnitude different in complexity. 


And?  Your comment was about the viability of a 700k twin.  You just tacked on shorter runways after the fact, but that really changes nothing.  It's a function of lift, drag, and power, all of which can be dealt with. 


Comment was about viability of C-5 size replacement that is part of the Air Mobility Command. 

Yep - Hate to have an airframe that, by design, is close to the margins in its ability to meet the mission requirements prior to EMD.  Weight tends to grow when providing engineering solutions to problems encountered during EMD.  So this includes the engines planned for the aircraft.  Engines seem to take the longest to develop.  Perhaps it's a no-brainer to scale up a GEnx to 100k lbs of thrust - don't know.  I'm sure you're right that it can be dealt with.  Rather it's before there's a plane waiting for the solution.

The GE90 has been rated at 115k, and used in service on several models of the 777 as such for over a decade.  It actually holds the world's record at 128k.  Rather than trying to uprate a GEnx to 100k just use a GE9X, which would already be there, and is being developed for the 777X.  Considering the C-5A has been successful for most of its life on a grand total of 164k I'm not seeing what the concern is, particularly since an HWB would have much more lift. 

http://www.geaviation.com/newengine/

http://www.geaviation.com/commercial/engines/ge9x/


Are the KC-135, 10, 130, and 46 "kitchen sink replacements"?  Why would this be any different?


They are primarily tankers w/a cargo augmentation.  The aircraft the size of a C-5 is primarily an outsized cargo aircraft.  You just can't fill it with enough pallets to get close to it's load capability so maybe adding a tanker capability makes sense.  But it may be that it wouldn't be used enough in that context to make it worth the added costs.  It may be that it takes up too much space on the ramp.  The question is whether it 'works' as a tanker in the AMC model for moving equipment around the world. 

Either it would be or it wouldn't be.  The fact of the matter is having tanker and cargo capability in the same airframe is nothing new, certainly nothing to be considered "risky". 
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 08:30:56 am by sferrin »
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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #62 on: September 27, 2016, 07:01:11 am »
It seems to me that this could be one for NG to have the advantage on, by modifying the B-21 into a tanker. It may not be ideal for the specs, but if they can offer it at substantially lower cost due to using a common airframe, since it will be going into production, it would also lower operational costs. BTW, was it Northrop that demonstrated the unmanned hose and drogue refueling technique?

NG also did unmanned boom refuelling demonstration. There were pics online a while back on  their site.

Offline Mat Parry

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #63 on: September 27, 2016, 01:32:54 pm »
In the public domain NG did some demonstrations with 2 global hawks using a hose and drogue set up. Albeit a reversed situation where the aircraft being refuelled took position upfront & extended a hose and drogue, the plan was that the buddy tanker would insert it's probe into the drogue and pump the fuel forward /uphill to the receiver. (I never figured out the reasons for this set up). As I recall no fuel was actually exchanged

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/status_reports/global_hawk_status_10_05_12.html

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/darpa-completes-autonomous-high-altitude-refuelling-377447/
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 01:36:30 pm by Mat Parry »

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #64 on: September 27, 2016, 01:49:44 pm »
In the public domain NG did some demonstrations with 2 global hawks using a hose and drogue set up. Albeit a reversed situation where the aircraft being refuelled took position upfront & extended a hose and drogue, the plan was that the buddy tanker would insert it's probe into the drogue and pump the fuel forward /uphill to the receiver. (I never figured out the reasons for this set up). As I recall no fuel was actually exchanged

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/status_reports/global_hawk_status_10_05_12.html

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/darpa-completes-autonomous-high-altitude-refuelling-377447/


This is an interesting concept.  It's been researched (IIRC) in Europe.  The basis of the research was to determine what level of fuel savings one would achieve by launching commercial aircraft 'light' for long trips and refuel in the air en route.  This keeps the weight down thus the fuel savings.  Expectation was for up to 30% fuel savings.   

Concept is for traditional USAF boom method, but in reverse - with the receiver above and in front of the tanker. 

The receiver would have a drogue type basket extended from the tail and the boom would intercept from below and behind.  Tanker would 'fly' the boom into the drogue.  Much simpler and likely much safer and requires much less modification to the commercial fleet.

Pretty cool stuff.


Offline Mat Parry

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #65 on: September 27, 2016, 02:04:52 pm »

This is an interesting concept.  It's been researched (IIRC) in Europe.  The basis of the research was to determine what level of fuel savings one would achieve by launching commercial aircraft 'light' for long trips and refuel in the air en route.  This keeps the weight down thus the fuel savings.  Expectation was for up to 30% fuel savings.   

Concept is for traditional USAF boom method, but in reverse - with the receiver above and in front of the tanker. 

The receiver would have a drogue type basket extended from the tail and the boom would intercept from below and behind.  Tanker would 'fly' the boom into the drogue.  Much simpler and likely much safer and requires much less modification to the commercial fleet.

The set up is almost identical to any commonly used hose and drogue except that the fuel exchange is reversed. I'm surprised at this as I imagine the hose, drogue and reel would be heavier than the probe (note this is not the same as a boom).

Question, Why would the aircraft being refuelled carry all the heavy kit?

(1) Is it to give the tanker more range?
(2) Is the pumping kit that the tanker carries actually quite heavy? (Might have to be a bit more robust due to pumping uphill?)
(3) Are they going for a more equal weight distribution between tanker and reciever, might be an advantage in a buddy refuelling set up ?(which is what this really is)
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 02:07:37 pm by Mat Parry »

Offline Mat Parry

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #66 on: September 27, 2016, 02:13:15 pm »
NG also did unmanned boom refuelling demonstration. There were pics online a while back on  their site.

Do you recall which platforms were involved, I have only seen speculation & simulation regarding autonomous boom refuelling

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/is-this-proof-that-the-us-air-force-can-aerially-refuel-1702048915

http://news.northropgrumman.com/news/releases/northrop-grumman-u-s-navy-test-autonomous-aerial-refueling-for-unmanned-combat-air-system-demonstration

Offline CiTrus90

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #67 on: September 27, 2016, 02:23:19 pm »
The set up is almost identical to any commonly used hose and drogue except that the fuel exchange is reversed. I'm surprised at this as I imagine the hose, drogue and reel would be heavier than the probe (note this is not the same as a boom).

Question, Why would the aircraft being refuelled carry all the heavy kit?

(1) Is it to give the tanker more range?
(2) Is the pumping kit that the tanker carries actually quite heavy? (Might have to be a bit more robust due to pumping uphill?)
(3) Are they going for a more equal weight distribution between tanker and reciever, might be an advantage in a buddy refuelling set up ?(which is what this really is)

I think the answer is more simple: you don't want to maneuver a commercial liner for aerial refueling due to passengers comfort.

This way, the job would be all up to the tanker aircraft and its crew.
Regards.

L. Landino

Offline Mat Parry

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #68 on: September 27, 2016, 02:28:25 pm »
I think the answer is more simple: you don't want to maneuver a commercial liner for aerial refueling due to passengers comfort.

This way, the job would be all up to the tanker aircraft and its crew.

Thanks for the answer, but Please note I was only discussing autonomous refuelling of 2 global hawks as per NG demonstrations. I didn't bring the commercial airliner red herring to the table. So I'm afraid your answers don't relate to my question

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #69 on: September 27, 2016, 02:31:48 pm »
I think the answer is more simple: you don't want to maneuver a commercial liner for aerial refueling due to passengers comfort.

This way, the job would be all up to the tanker aircraft and its crew.

Thanks for the answer, but Please note I was only discussing autonomous refuelling of 2 global hawks as per NG demonstrations. I didn't bring the commercial airliner red herring to the table. So I'm afraid your answers don't relate to my question

Oh, I'm sorry. I thought your question was related specifically to that. My bad.
Maybe, in this case, it was just to demonstrate the proof of concept, though.
Regards.

L. Landino

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #70 on: September 27, 2016, 02:35:20 pm »

Cheap shot.  The F-35 REQUIRES its software to perform its mission.  The software required to perform autonomous refueling needn't be a requirement out of the box.  A KC-Z could be a great success without ever getting software for autonomous refueling at all.  In other words, apples and oranges.  Also orders of magnitude different in complexity. 


Didn't mean for it to be a cheap shot.  Just pointing out that co-development has had it's drawbacks.  DoD seems to have been getting away from this process since F-35 and Ford-class.



The GE90 has been rated at 115k, and used in service on several models of the 777 as such for over a decade.  It actually holds the world's record at 128k.  Rather than trying to uprate a GEnx to 100k just use a GE9X, which would already be there, and is being developed for the 777X.  Considering the C-5A has been successful for most of its life on a grand total of 164k I'm not seeing what the concern is, particularly since an HWB would have much more lift. 

http://www.geaviation.com/newengine/

http://www.geaviation.com/commercial/engines/ge9x/

Great news. 



Either it would be or it wouldn't be.  The fact of the matter is having tanker and cargo capability in the same airframe is nothing new, certainly nothing to be considered "risky".

It's important for the USAF to determine how they want to augment the current capability of the AMC.  If they want a replacement for the C-5, great.  Build a replacement for the C-5. 

For reasons mentioned in prior posts a KC replacement that carries much more fuel than the KC-46 would be helpful as the KC-10's start to age out in 2040.  That aircraft doesn't need to be stealthy nor fly into austere airfields. It would be great if it were dual boom for low threat air cap support but it's less necessary for inter-theater flights.  If the USAF feels differently then I'd hope they will help us understand that new requirement.  They typically do a good job of that in congressional hearings.

I definitely see a potential need for 'more stealthy' intra-theater C-17 sized transport that will fly into non-traditional, makeshift, austere airfields as A2/AD areas are expanded.  But I don't see it rising to a critical need.  There are lot's of ways to provide C-17's with more protection w/o a new airframe - and - they are generally in pretty good shape today.

But because of the USAF requirement for air supremacy in its battleplans my immediate concern is for a 'very stealthy' tanker in support of its current fleet of fighters and bombers, including B-21 in high threat environments.  With B-21 in EMD, it's expected sensor, network, and data fusion capabilities, along with an ability to conduct electronic warfare and surveillance, to me, this is an obvious choice for a tanker variant in the 2025-2030 timeframe.

Just my opinion.




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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #71 on: September 27, 2016, 02:40:41 pm »
I think the answer is more simple: you don't want to maneuver a commercial liner for aerial refueling due to passengers comfort.

This way, the job would be all up to the tanker aircraft and its crew.

Thanks for the answer, but Please note I was only discussing autonomous refuelling of 2 global hawks as per NG demonstrations. I didn't bring the commercial airliner red herring to the table. So I'm afraid your answers don't relate to my question

Sorry Mat et al. - didn't mean for it to be a red herring.  When you mentioned the reverse refueling it reminded me of the 'other' reverse refueling research.  I mentioned it only as an 'interesting aside'.  Probably should have sent that as a message instead of a post.


Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #72 on: September 27, 2016, 04:10:34 pm »
Didn't mean for it to be a cheap shot.  Just pointing out that co-development has had it's drawbacks.  DoD seems to have been getting away from this process since F-35 and Ford-class.

Again, apples and oranges.  A bit like saying we should have not produced the F-16 until the AIM-120 was ready because "co-development is bad".  One has very little to do with the other. 
"DARPA Hard"  It ain't what it use to be.

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #73 on: September 27, 2016, 05:51:41 pm »
Didn't mean for it to be a cheap shot.  Just pointing out that co-development has had it's drawbacks.  DoD seems to have been getting away from this process since F-35 and Ford-class.

Again, apples and oranges.  A bit like saying we should have not produced the F-16 until the AIM-120 was ready because "co-development is bad".  One has very little to do with the other.

What exactly would need to be co-developed for the HWB?  I would think the greatest risk (after control laws) would be
achieving good STOL performance without the C-17's externally blown flap; the LM guys have some ideas from CCW to various forms of TVC.

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #74 on: September 27, 2016, 06:06:44 pm »
What exactly would need to be co-developed for the HWB?  I would think the greatest risk (after control laws) would be
achieving good STOL performance without the C-17's externally blown flap; the LM guys have some ideas from CCW to various forms of TVC.

Or just a huge lifting surface. 
"DARPA Hard"  It ain't what it use to be.

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #75 on: September 27, 2016, 06:50:34 pm »
What exactly would need to be co-developed for the HWB?  I would think the greatest risk (after control laws) would be
achieving good STOL performance without the C-17's externally blown flap; the LM guys have some ideas from CCW to various forms of TVC.

Or just a huge lifting surface.

It wasn't clear to me how much lift the forebody generates at high AoA.
It's not inconceivable that conventional high lift devices would enable it to meet the STOL requirements
but the LM paper spends some time on dedicated powered lift systems.

Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #76 on: September 28, 2016, 03:31:02 am »
Not only must it be stealthy but it also has to fire lasers as well.

http://m.aviationweek.com/defense/us-air-force-wants-stealthy-laser-shooting-next-gen-tanker


Offline CiTrus90

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #77 on: September 28, 2016, 06:01:33 am »
Not only must it be stealthy but it also has to fire lasers as well.

http://m.aviationweek.com/defense/us-air-force-wants-stealthy-laser-shooting-next-gen-tanker

For the life of me I can't understand why that would make sense in their opinion.

As I wrote 2 pages ago, just having dedicated Laser Interceptors flying in protection of the Tankers could solve the issue, with a sort of aerial Aegis system, without the need to make overly complex "stealth-airborne laser-tankers".

Stealth is not magic, you can't just say "we need a stealth tanker, and while at it make it capable of this, this and that".

Tankers, cargos and AWACS, at large, are not survivable assets, and will probably never be. They need to operate in safe areas as long as air superiority and the removal of A2/AD are not established.

If the enemy defenses range increases, the focus should be on changing tactics or adapting technologies in a reasonable way to get around a problem, not on creating a panacea/miracle aircraft to operate as in previous air-campaigns (and for the time being, "waiting" till that happens).

Moreover, there is no way a stealth-tanker could be reasonable from a cost-effective point of view, with 2 of its main capabilities (stealthiness and laser defences) that will be of use only in conflict.

And, once more, if radar developments catch up before a stealth-tanker reaches IOC we're back to square one, with a large aircraft which, at that far point in the future, may even have laser defences on board, but which stealthiness would be pretty much useless (unless, in the meanwhile, that too doesn't make exponential advancements, like being cheaper for example).

The people making the choices should ask themselves: "Is the problem now, in 10 years or in 60 years?".

Throwing ideas around is fine for creating a fertile environment, able to come up with solutions, but certainly not for much else.
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Offline Sentinel36k

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #78 on: September 28, 2016, 12:47:44 pm »
The stealth tanker isn't all that new of an idea, this strike tanker wind tunnel test is from the airforce in 2005.

Sentinel
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 01:37:33 pm by Sentinel36k »

Offline Mat Parry

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #79 on: September 28, 2016, 01:17:35 pm »
http://m.aviationweek.com/defense/us-air-force-wants-stealthy-laser-shooting-next-gen-tanker

"The KC-Z would likely come online in the 2030-40 time frame"

How does this compare with production schedules for B-21? Gut feeling, this indicates that they aren't considering a B-21 based solution.

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #80 on: September 28, 2016, 03:56:11 pm »
Not only must it be stealthy but it also has to fire lasers as well.

http://m.aviationweek.com/defense/us-air-force-wants-stealthy-laser-shooting-next-gen-tanker

For the life of me I can't understand why that would make sense in their opinion.


Stealth is not magic, you can't just say "we need a stealth tanker, and while at it make it capable of this, this and that".

Tankers, cargos and AWACS, at large, are not survivable assets, and will probably never be. They need to operate in safe areas as long as air superiority and the removal of A2/AD are not established.



The progress they are making in active aircraft defensive systems may change that assessment.
Large aircraft could carry a relatively deep magazine of towed decoys, kinetic intercept countermeasures, defensive DEWS etc. without much penalty.

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #81 on: September 28, 2016, 08:03:50 pm »
http://m.aviationweek.com/defense/us-air-force-wants-stealthy-laser-shooting-next-gen-tanker

"The KC-Z would likely come online in the 2030-40 time frame"

How does this compare with production schedules for B-21? Gut feeling, this indicates that they aren't considering a B-21 based solution.

Perhaps. General Everhart seems to have a great deal of AMC experience.  These guys know what's required to get the job done.  I'm sure he's thinking about how to ensure he provides his troops with the platform to succeed.

That being said, B-21, as a program, is a massive, expensive, critical, strategic imperative with lots of moving parts.  Getting anyone to consider a B-21 variant before the bomber is IoC is not something even a four star can accomplish.  Even if he's thinking about it you're not going to suggest it. 

This is the sort of program that comes down from above. 
1.  You come up with requirements for a large, stealthy tanker, make the survivability case, let industry submit ideas and develop cost estimates. 
2.  The fighter & bomber jocks get involved and start asking questions about how they're expected to get their packages home in the expanded A2/AD environments. 
3.  Congress holds hearings about the plans for the large, stealthy tanker. 
4.  There's consensus that a outsized cargo inter-theater transport with tanking capability and a stealthy tanker are necessary.  But not necessarily the same platform.
5.  AF wonders where the $ will come from for two new airframes.
6.  Then, at some point, the SecAF or SecDef says - hey, can't we accomplish the stealthy tanker requirement with a B-21 variant and save the development costs? 

And you say, "Great idea, Sir.  That's why you're the boss!"

---

On another note, it may not even be AMC that get's a stealthy tanker.  It could be the AFSOC or even embedded in the AFGSC.






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Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #83 on: October 17, 2016, 04:10:49 pm »
Almost looks small enough to fold its wings and stick it on a carrier.
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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #84 on: October 17, 2016, 07:06:50 pm »
Guessing that the bumps top and bottom are laser turrets.
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Offline bobbymike

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #85 on: October 17, 2016, 08:34:27 pm »
Future arsenal plane.
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Offline AeroFranz

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #86 on: October 18, 2016, 10:55:18 am »
Not to nit-pick, but that doesn't look like a HWB. To me it looks more like a tube and wing with generous blending, i.e., it looks like there's a pretty distinctive transition between the fuselage and the wing, unlike the pictures above.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2016, 10:56:58 am by AeroFranz »
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Offline TomS

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #87 on: October 18, 2016, 11:26:23 am »
Wonder if that changes with the proportions corrected.  That image looks pretty distorted.

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #88 on: October 18, 2016, 03:44:51 pm »
Vertical axis compressed taking the half moon as a guide, contrast altered.
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Offline Mat Parry

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #89 on: October 19, 2016, 01:53:42 am »
To my eye this configuration looks more like a enlarged (manned) General Atomics Predator C avenger, not a HWB.

Offline George Allegrezza

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #90 on: October 19, 2016, 03:08:04 am »
To my eye this configuration looks more like a enlarged (manned) General Atomics Predator C avenger, not a HWB.

Agreed. One could also make a case for a variation of the TR-X shape as well.

Offline flateric

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #91 on: October 19, 2016, 03:09:10 am »
...
« Last Edit: October 19, 2016, 03:15:27 am by flateric »
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stealth, more than a few of them truly technically ignorant and proud of it." Sherm Mullin, Skunk Works

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #92 on: October 19, 2016, 08:42:54 am »

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #93 on: October 19, 2016, 08:51:13 am »
...

They both look distorted, just in different ways.  ???
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Offline hesham

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #94 on: October 20, 2016, 05:08:01 am »
Good Projects,thank you my dear Flateric,

but for this aircraft,it is just dream,never to be built,we heard about many tailless
transport and tanker airplane Projects from 1940s,1950s & 1960s,but nothing at
all we got.

Offline Mark S.

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #95 on: October 20, 2016, 03:39:54 pm »
I don't know if it will be built but per a Aviation Week article article L-M addressed the tail issue.  Said it was to have a "H" tail.  Time will tell.


Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #96 on: October 24, 2016, 07:33:26 am »
Lockheed Details Hybrid Wing-Body Future Tanker

Quote
As the U.S. Air Force sets its sights on a more survivable next-generation tanker that will be able to support strike assets in increasingly dangerous battlespace, Lockheed Martin believes it has the answer: a fuel-efficient, hybrid wing-body aircraft that can take off and land on short runways for maximum operating flexibility. Gen. Carlton Everhart 2nd, chief of Air Mobility Command, recently kicked off an effort to study a next-generation “KC-Z” tanker—one that may look ...

http://m.aviationweek.com/defense/lockheed-details-hybrid-wing-body-future-tanker

Offline gtg947h

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #97 on: October 31, 2016, 03:31:29 am »
In the public domain NG did some demonstrations with 2 global hawks using a hose and drogue set up. Albeit a reversed situation where the aircraft being refuelled took position upfront & extended a hose and drogue, the plan was that the buddy tanker would insert it's probe into the drogue and pump the fuel forward /uphill to the receiver. (I never figured out the reasons for this set up). As I recall no fuel was actually exchanged

The idea was that the aircraft with the probe had to have the "smarts" to fly to the drogue and connect.  Better to put that part on a handful of dedicated tanker aircraft and let the receiver fly along straight and level, instead of having to have every aircraft get the specialized equipment.

Whether the trade in weight vs. specialized components works out in favor of this scheme, I don't know.  I guess it depends on how much the system costs...

Offline George Allegrezza

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #98 on: January 11, 2017, 09:18:15 am »
Lockheed Martin KC-Y/Z concept on display at AIAA Sci-Tech Conference.  Some Speed Agile similarity, especially the tail section.

https://twitter.com/TheWoracle/status/819210345659174912

https://twitter.com/TheWoracle/status/819211171442081792

(Moved from USAF future transports topic.)

Offline Triton

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #99 on: January 11, 2017, 03:49:32 pm »
Lockheed Martin KC-Y/Z concept on display at AIAA Sci-Tech Conference.  Some Speed Agile similarity, especially the tail section.

https://twitter.com/TheWoracle/status/819210345659174912

https://twitter.com/TheWoracle/status/819211171442081792

(Moved from USAF future transports topic.)

Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #100 on: January 11, 2017, 04:57:13 pm »
Wonder where the boom would go and how the engine exhausts being where they are would effect stability when trying to refuel.
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Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #101 on: January 11, 2017, 05:26:15 pm »
Wonder where the boom would go and how the engine exhausts being where they are would effect stability when trying to refuel.

I'm not an AE so I'm really just asking.  With that wing design and expected load what kind of take-off roll would be expected?  Less than a KC-46?

It'd be nice to get tankers in to more potential airfields, not less.





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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #102 on: January 11, 2017, 05:37:59 pm »
Arsenal Plane, arsenal plane, arsenal plane please.
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Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #103 on: January 11, 2017, 05:58:40 pm »
Arsenal Plane, arsenal plane, arsenal plane please.

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What should we do about lunch, the lobster or the cracked crab? 
     What do you think?
Can't we have both?
     Why not.



Online marauder2048

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #104 on: January 11, 2017, 10:27:25 pm »
Wonder where the boom would go and how the engine exhausts being where they are would effect stability when trying to refuel.

At a guess...

Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #105 on: January 12, 2017, 02:33:34 am »
If the airforce decides to skip KC-Y and go to Z this LM's entry for the competition.

Lockheed Martin unveils wing-body tanker concept for refuel stealth aircraft

http://defence-blog.com/news/lockheed-martin-unveils-wing-body-tanker-concept-for-refuel-stealth-aircraft.html


Offline DrRansom

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #106 on: January 12, 2017, 09:29:34 am »
What is interesting I'd that this is the most recent, or maybe first?, stealthy jet transport.

And it looks really weird. Fuselage lift, relatively highly swept wings. Just looks strange. The Speed Agile aircraft looked much more normal than this.

Offline red admiral

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #107 on: January 12, 2017, 11:51:33 am »
Probably not that low RF signature beyond something like Avro Vulcan. Not much in the way of planform alignment, hardly any cant on the tails. The only thing a bit "stealthy" is the engine installation, which still has clear los from frontal aspects unless some sort of radar blocker is used - with consequences for aircraft performance.

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #108 on: January 12, 2017, 02:52:20 pm »
That Lockheed model certainly is sexy. It looks like a 21st century B-1B, but sexier than the Bone. The tail looks like it could be a dubious moniker, kind of like the canards on the Lockheed ATF proposal.... the tail could be a bit stealthier. Fit it with 4x F135s and a weapons bay and it would be a cool jack of all trades A2G platform.
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Offline Foo Fighter

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #109 on: January 12, 2017, 07:16:49 pm »
The blended wing/body designs will no doubt look odd until we get used to them.  When the F-117 was first announced I thought it looked odd but now the blended wing/body looks like a development of that.  I tewnd to agree that tanker assets would be best used where they can be defended in depth rather than risked within range of target defences.
What do you think about drone tankers?  It would cut down on weight and make it easier to carry self defence weaponry.  Yes, I know I have no ecperience of the Air Force or its tactics it just makes sense to me.

Offline kaiserd

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #110 on: January 13, 2017, 10:48:16 am »
The blended wing/body designs will no doubt look odd until we get used to them.  When the F-117 was first announced I thought it looked odd but now the blended wing/body looks like a development of that.  I tewnd to agree that tanker assets would be best used where they can be defended in depth rather than risked within range of target defences.
What do you think about drone tankers?  It would cut down on weight and make it easier to carry self defence weaponry.  Yes, I know I have no ecperience of the Air Force or its tactics it just makes sense to me.

The idea that any airforce will field a large number of "ornate" highly stealthy highly expensive tanker aircraft that can and will be risked in areas where there stealthy capabilities are really needed sounds far fetched to me.
A reasonably large number of smaller some what cheaper but still relatively stealthy (trade-off of lower fuel to giveaway) drones which would be rather more expendable/ willing to risk (and complementing larger non-stealthy tankers and potential greater buddy refuelling by existing or future stealthy bomber and fighter types) would appear to be a more realisable and sensible goal.

Offline DrRansom

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #111 on: January 13, 2017, 01:43:10 pm »
Now that you say it, it does bear more than a passing resemblance to the F-117.

Which raises the question, wasn't the F-117 passed by more modern approaches to stealth? Interesting that this model looks like the older type.

Online marauder2048

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #112 on: January 13, 2017, 01:48:12 pm »

The idea that any airforce will field a large number of "ornate" highly stealthy highly expensive tanker aircraft that can and will be risked in areas where there stealthy capabilities are really needed sounds far fetched to me.
A reasonably large number of smaller some what cheaper but still relatively stealthy (trade-off of lower fuel to giveaway) drones which would be rather more expendable/ willing to risk (and complementing larger non-stealthy tankers and potential greater buddy refuelling by existing or future stealthy bomber and fighter types) would appear to be a more realisable and sensible goal.

But that's not LM's proposal: it's for an aircraft with a combination of active/passive signature reductions +
active/passive countermeasures to operate outside of SAM range but within GCI + AAM range.

I'm not sure how (absent a move to a higher energy density fuels) you build a drone that
could provide a meaningful amount of fuel to a B-2/B-21 and yet be
more affordable and therefore purchased in greater quantities that what LM is proposing.

Offline CiTrus90

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #113 on: January 13, 2017, 01:56:20 pm »
Wonder where the boom would go and how the engine exhausts being where they are would effect stability when trying to refuel.

I'd imagine here:

Edit:
The more I look at it, the more I'm inclined to think it depicts a probe & drogue system rather than a boom & receptacle one. Unless those pods are supposed to house magical-telescopic booms...
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 02:16:02 pm by CiTrus90 »
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Offline Mat Parry

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #114 on: January 13, 2017, 02:31:45 pm »
If you will forgive me, just a thought. This Lockheed model would appear to have inherited some of the features of its forebears (to my eye this looks like a sleeker sexier evolution of some of the speed agile concepts). I can also see some F-117 in it too. But I wonder if there are some features that might have been passed on from the loosing Lockheed LRS-B design?

It's been clearly explained elsewhere on this forum that a flying wing is the only sensible platform for LRS-B (so nothing like this stealth tanker model). However if, in years to come, artwork on the Lockheed design is released my guess is that there could be a family resemblance in say the intake designs.

Marauder's point on drones to refuel B-2/B-21 is a good one,  for aircraft of that size it's a very expensive option. Perhaps it might be possible for F-35/F-22 refuelling? Could a stealthy pod be designed that could contain a hose and drogue (a la F-18 buddy refuelling) the difference being that the refuelling is reversed and a drone pushes the fuel uphill via it's probe to the fighters via the drogue pod? It would avoid the cost of having to fit probes and plumbing to the entire fleet of Air Force F-35/F-22

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #115 on: January 13, 2017, 06:21:51 pm »
The blended wing/body designs will no doubt look odd until we get used to them.  When the F-117 was first announced I thought it looked odd but now the blended wing/body looks like a development of that.  I tewnd to agree that tanker assets would be best used where they can be defended in depth rather than risked within range of target defences.
What do you think about drone tankers?  It would cut down on weight and make it easier to carry self defence weaponry.  Yes, I know I have no ecperience of the Air Force or its tactics it just makes sense to me.

The idea that any airforce will field a large number of "ornate" highly stealthy highly expensive tanker aircraft that can and will be risked in areas where there stealthy capabilities are really needed sounds far fetched to me.
A reasonably large number of smaller some what cheaper but still relatively stealthy (trade-off of lower fuel to giveaway) drones which would be rather more expendable/ willing to risk (and complementing larger non-stealthy tankers and potential greater buddy refuelling by existing or future stealthy bomber and fighter types) would appear to be a more realisable and sensible goal.

Why would a large number would be necessary?  If the requirement is to provide relatively close refueling capabilities for stealthy strike formations such as B2, B21, F22 and future PCA, these assets are deployed in relatively small numbers.  You'd need quite a few MQ-25's to top off a B2/21 and get it back into the fight.  Guess it really depends on how close to the threat you expect the tanker to be.

If the mission profile is what we've seen w/B-2 the object will be to mission plan en-route for other than initial flights.  Transmissions will be limited.  Follow-on flights may need modified target lists based on prior flights BDA.  They may want to hit targets of opportunity if ordinance is left over. This means that they'll want tankers pretty close in.  Will require very stealthy tankers - but not necessarily large numbers.
















« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 06:30:58 pm by NeilChapman »

Offline Airplane

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #116 on: January 13, 2017, 06:31:22 pm »
Wonder where the boom would go and how the engine exhausts being where they are would effect stability when trying to refuel.

I'd imagine here:

Edit:
The more I look at it, the more I'm inclined to think it depicts a probe & drogue system rather than a boom & receptacle one. Unless those pods are supposed to house magical-telescopic booms...

If its usaf then there is a boom. Its not hard to imagine that its buried in the tail beneath a door.

I sincerely doubt the DoD would allow anything (shaping, size, and engines) of the Lockheed bomber to be made public until after the B21 is unveiled.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 06:34:24 pm by Airplane »
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Offline CiTrus90

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #117 on: January 14, 2017, 01:12:55 am »
Wonder where the boom would go and how the engine exhausts being where they are would effect stability when trying to refuel.

I'd imagine here:

Edit:
The more I look at it, the more I'm inclined to think it depicts a probe & drogue system rather than a boom & receptacle one. Unless those pods are supposed to house magical-telescopic booms...

If its usaf then there is a boom. Its not hard to imagine that its buried in the tail beneath a door.

I agree there should be a boom, but the high tail may also be suggestive of a cargo door (as seen with Speed Agile?). Otherwise this concept would be for a tanker only, without any multi-role mobility capabilities.
Regards.

L. Landino

Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #118 on: January 14, 2017, 02:36:10 am »
Wonder where the boom would go and how the engine exhausts being where they are would effect stability when trying to refuel.

I'd imagine here:

Edit:
The more I look at it, the more I'm inclined to think it depicts a probe & drogue system rather than a boom & receptacle one. Unless those pods are supposed to house magical-telescopic booms...

If its usaf then there is a boom. Its not hard to imagine that its buried in the tail beneath a door.

I sincerely doubt the DoD would allow anything (shaping, size, and engines) of the Lockheed bomber to be made public until after the B21 is unveiled.

Isn't a boom a lot more difficult to make stealthy though?

Online Dragon029

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #119 on: January 14, 2017, 03:08:33 am »
I don't see why; a drogue has a flexible hose (making the application of long-lasting RAM more difficult), as well as springs and a basket that has fairly reflective geometry. With a boom you can facet it fairly easily, apply RAM more easily, etc. The only difficult part would be the nozzle itself at the end, but I'm sure there are ways to minimise its signature.

Offline TomS

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #120 on: January 14, 2017, 04:05:32 am »
The more I look at it, the more I'm inclined to think it depicts a probe & drogue system rather than a boom & receptacle one. Unless those pods are supposed to house magical-telescopic booms...

If you look through the MACK thread on Postwar Projects, you'll see iterations of MACK or Speed Agile with almost the same tail configuration and a flying boom.  There are no lower stern quarter shots to show exactly how it stows but I'd bet on a retractable boom that would stow mainly inside the cargo bay.  The K-X version would essentially replace the ramp in the cargo version with a panel containing the boom and optics for the operator.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2017, 10:18:58 am by TomS »

Offline CiTrus90

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #121 on: January 14, 2017, 04:43:22 am »
The more I look at it, the more I'm inclined to think it depicts a probe & drogue system rather than a boom & receptacle one. Unless those pods are supposed to house magical-telescopic booms...

If you look through the MACK thread on Postwar Projects, you'll see iterations of MAK or Speed Agile with almost the same til configuration and a flying boom.  There are no lower stern quarter shots to show exactly how it stows but I'd bet on a retractable boom that would stow mainly inside the cargo bay.  The K-X version would essentially replace the ramp in the cargo version with a panel containing the boom and optics for the operator.

I had gone through all the 21 pages of the thread and had been able to miss the tanker configuration on the very first page, thanks for pointing out though ;D

Still, I don't think a stealth tanker makes much sense, but that's just my opinion.
Regards.

L. Landino

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #122 on: January 14, 2017, 08:41:34 am »

Still, I don't think a stealth tanker makes much sense, but that's just my opinion.

What are you suggesting in its stead?  e.g. how would the mission be handled?





Offline CiTrus90

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #123 on: January 14, 2017, 12:18:58 pm »

Still, I don't think a stealth tanker makes much sense, but that's just my opinion.

What are you suggesting in its stead?  e.g. how would the mission be handled?

At the present time, dealing with what we have?

I assume that:
1 - the mission is against a peer-State, with sophisticated air defenses (otherwise there wouldn't be much need for stealthiness);
2 - the conflict remains conventional, without nuclear escalation risks (which is a dubious assumption at best when dealing with a peer-State);

First thing would be to kick the doors down with BGM-109, AGM-158 and AGM-86C/D from the long distance. Targets should be radar sites, airbases, command and control nodes.
AGM-158 would be launched from B-2s and in the near future B-21s, which are stealth. CALCMs, with their greater range, would be delivered by B-1s and [my mistake here] B-52s, staying back in the field, as far away as possible from enemy air defenses.
BGM-109s would be deployed by submarines and naval assets. Subs should be considered inherently survivable. Surface ships instead would have to be at the edge of their weapons range and rely on AEGIS for their main defense, possibly on CAP but only as long as the air assets play defensively, as far away as possible from the enemy A2/AD threat.

If this phase does not succeed in taking out most of the enemy A2/AD threat (especially negating the use of airbases to enemy fighters and strike aircraft), the campaign doesn't proceed further. You'd have to, at least, create a relatively safe corridor for your fighters and strike packages to operate in. If you can't guarantee it, there's no second phase you can proceed to.

If this phase does indeed have success, you've drastically reduced the enemy counter air capabilities. It means you have air superiority over the battlefield and have reduced the SAM threat (e.g. S-400 operational range is estimated at 400km, the F-22 combat radius is 852km, so you have no need to move a tanker close to the S-400 range). There is now no need for a stealth tanker to conduct aerial refuelling deep into the enemy A2/AD bubble (which you will need to keep pushing back in the same way as above, if you want to advance further).

In regards to the future?

As I wrote a few pages ago in this thread, my idea is that a dedicated laser interceptor, possibly stealth, tasked with the protection of valuable assets (like tankers, AWACS, point defence of surface vessels, etc.) would be more useful than having a stealth tanker.
A stealth laser interceptor could also accompany strike packages deep into enemy territory, providing even more survivabilty to those aircraft.

Other things that should be worked upon, and fast, are the LRSO, the Arsenal plane and the PCA.

For any other scenario I don't see a need for a stealth tanker. OTOH I can see a niche for a STOL/STOVL/VTOL stealth cargo, but not for a tanker though.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2017, 02:44:46 pm by CiTrus90 »
Regards.

L. Landino

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #124 on: January 14, 2017, 03:40:05 pm »

Still, I don't think a stealth tanker makes much sense, but that's just my opinion.

What are you suggesting in its stead?  e.g. how would the mission be handled?

At the present time, dealing with what we have?

I assume that:
1 - the mission is against a peer-State, with sophisticated air defenses (otherwise there wouldn't be much need for stealthiness);
2 - the conflict remains conventional, without nuclear escalation risks (which is a dubious assumption at best when dealing with a peer-State);

First thing would be to kick the doors down with BGM-109, AGM-158 and AGM-86C/D from the long distance. Targets should be radar sites, airbases, command and control nodes.
AGM-158 would be launched from B-2s and in the near future B-21s, which are stealth. CALCMs, with their greater range, would be delivered by B-1s and [my mistake here] B-52s, staying back in the field, as far away as possible from enemy air defenses.
BGM-109s would be deployed by submarines and naval assets. Subs should be considered inherently survivable. Surface ships instead would have to be at the edge of their weapons range and rely on AEGIS for their main defense, possibly on CAP but only as long as the air assets play defensively, as far away as possible from the enemy A2/AD threat.

If this phase does not succeed in taking out most of the enemy A2/AD threat (especially negating the use of airbases to enemy fighters and strike aircraft), the campaign doesn't proceed further. You'd have to, at least, create a relatively safe corridor for your fighters and strike packages to operate in. If you can't guarantee it, there's no second phase you can proceed to.

If this phase does indeed have success, you've drastically reduced the enemy counter air capabilities. It means you have air superiority over the battlefield and have reduced the SAM threat (e.g. S-400 operational range is estimated at 400km, the F-22 combat radius is 852km, so you have no need to move a tanker close to the S-400 range). There is now no need for a stealth tanker to conduct aerial refuelling deep into the enemy A2/AD bubble (which you will need to keep pushing back in the same way as above, if you want to advance further).

In regards to the future?

As I wrote a few pages ago in this thread, my idea is that a dedicated laser interceptor, possibly stealth, tasked with the protection of valuable assets (like tankers, AWACS, point defence of surface vessels, etc.) would be more useful than having a stealth tanker.
A stealth laser interceptor could also accompany strike packages deep into enemy territory, providing even more survivabilty to those aircraft.

Other things that should be worked upon, and fast, are the LRSO, the Arsenal plane and the PCA.

For any other scenario I don't see a need for a stealth tanker. OTOH I can see a niche for a STOL/STOVL/VTOL stealth cargo, but not for a tanker though.

Who would you consider near-peers for the US?  Given the "today" scenario you mention above how would the US fuel that first strike I've emphasized from your text? 



Offline CiTrus90

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #125 on: January 15, 2017, 01:23:17 am »
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.
Regards.

L. Landino

Offline Hood

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #126 on: January 15, 2017, 02:38:48 am »
I find myself nodding in agreement with CiTrus90's argument.

The whole emphasis of recent developments has been about increasing range, whether its B-21, the Arsenal Plane or PCAP. That surely is as much about reducing the need for tanker support as it is about deep penetration of enemy defences. The current B-51, B-1 and B-2 fleet have operated globally without any problems regarding range so I can't see that becoming a problem now. In addition in the scenarios regarding China and Russia the USAF has a ready stack of bases to operate from within Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim. I wonder though if it signals a realisation that its forward operating bases in these are vulnerable and that fighter-based strike packages are going to have to be launched further back (CONUS) and topped up as they arrive nearer the engagement area?

As a means to top-off tactical fighters it seems a very expensive method though, its taken $1.5 billion just to get a over a dozen 767-based KC-46As and all 179 are likely to cost over $45 billion, a dedicated platform like this with RCS materials and self-defence equipment is likely to cost a lot more. An Arsenal Plane version might reduce that but that would just parallel the B-21 and the Arsenal Plane looks more likely just to be a B-52 or B-1 with extra stuff slung on it.

As to the model, it looks 'cool' but then how many 'cool' concept models of aircraft and warships have been displayed in the past that have been nothing more than attractive advertising materials?
« Last Edit: January 15, 2017, 06:53:15 am by Hood »

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #127 on: January 16, 2017, 05:46:45 am »
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. 










Offline CiTrus90

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #128 on: January 16, 2017, 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.
Regards.

L. Landino

Offline kaiserd

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #129 on: January 16, 2017, 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).

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #130 on: January 16, 2017, 12:07:40 pm »
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!



« Last Edit: January 16, 2017, 12:09:16 pm by NeilChapman »

Offline CiTrus90

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #131 on: January 16, 2017, 01:59:40 pm »
We probably have different approaches when confronted with the same difficulties, but the world is a richer and more interesting place thanks to people with different thoughts.

I'm thankful for this discussion and I'll think about your point of view ;)
Regards.

L. Landino

Online marauder2048

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #132 on: January 16, 2017, 08:45:48 pm »
It may have been posted elsewhere, but Lockheed had (practically) an entire session at AIAA Aerospace Sciences this
year devoted to the Hybrid Wing Body.  (GEPC-01: Hybrid Wing Body): http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/book/10.2514/MASM17

For those with AIAA ARC access I've attached some thumbnails of the abstracts. 

Offline kaiserd

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #133 on: January 17, 2017, 04:54:55 am »
It may have been posted elsewhere, but Lockheed had (practically) an entire session at AIAA Aerospace Sciences this
year devoted to the Hybrid Wing Body.  (GEPC-01: Hybrid Wing Body): http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/book/10.2514/MASM17

For those with AIAA ARC access I've attached some thumbnails of the abstracts.

Thanks marauder.
Am I correct to understand that such a Hybrid Wing Body is designed with efficiency and not with low radar signature or other "stealth" in mind?
With its big fans clearly visible a military version would not be a true stealth type but may (far more by coincidence than design) happen to have a appreciably lower signature than the conventional layout we are all familiar with.
Further to other contributors comments above this particular design wouldn't be looking to penetrate an peer opponent's airspace anytime soon.

Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #134 on: January 17, 2017, 11:48:33 pm »
It may have been posted elsewhere, but Lockheed had (practically) an entire session at AIAA Aerospace Sciences this
year devoted to the Hybrid Wing Body.  (GEPC-01: Hybrid Wing Body): http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/book/10.2514/MASM17

For those with AIAA ARC access I've attached some thumbnails of the abstracts.

Thanks marauder.
Am I correct to understand that such a Hybrid Wing Body is designed with efficiency and not with low radar signature or other "stealth" in mind?
With its big fans clearly visible a military version would not be a true stealth type but may (far more by coincidence than design) happen to have a appreciably lower signature than the conventional layout we are all familiar with.
Further to other contributors comments above this particular design wouldn't be looking to penetrate an peer opponent's airspace anytime soon.

This looks more like a semi-stealthy cargo proposal that was put out last year.

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #135 on: January 18, 2017, 08:43:39 pm »
It may have been posted elsewhere, but Lockheed had (practically) an entire session at AIAA Aerospace Sciences this
year devoted to the Hybrid Wing Body.  (GEPC-01: Hybrid Wing Body): http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/book/10.2514/MASM17

For those with AIAA ARC access I've attached some thumbnails of the abstracts.

Thanks marauder.
Am I correct to understand that such a Hybrid Wing Body is designed with efficiency and not with low radar signature or other "stealth" in mind?
With its big fans clearly visible a military version would not be a true stealth type but may (far more by coincidence than design) happen to have a appreciably lower signature than the conventional layout we are all familiar with.
Further to other contributors comments above this particular design wouldn't be looking to penetrate an peer opponent's airspace anytime soon.

I agree with you.  The LO intra-theater transport requirement is different than a stealthy aerial tanker.  Wouldn't expect that transport to penetrate airspace to intercept a 5th gen strike package for aerial refueling.  Would expect it to ferry in fuel, munitions etc to a FARP in a high threat environment though.



Offline autoeac

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #136 on: January 19, 2017, 06:31:27 pm »
Why not use the new B20 as a buddy tanker as navy F18s do. Hang a fuel tank on it to argument the fuel capacity with some sort of fueling system. Might not have to even develop a new version. 

Offline TomS

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #137 on: January 20, 2017, 01:58:55 am »
Because boom refuelling isn't something that you can easily just bolt on.  A hose reel is easy to put in an external pod, but the boom (and operator) takes a lot more work to integrate into the aircraft.

Offline NeilChapman

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #138 on: January 20, 2017, 03:18:52 am »

Why not use the new B20 as a buddy tanker as navy F18s do. Hang a fuel tank on it to argument the fuel capacity with some sort of fueling system. Might not have to even develop a new version.

Because boom refuelling isn't something that you can easily just bolt on.  A hose reel is easy to put in an external pod, but the boom (and operator) takes a lot more work to integrate into the aircraft.


To the first point, it would not be necessary or advantageous to hang a fuel tank on a a B-21 to create a buddy-tanker for several reasons.
1.  It's likely they will carry 100-150k lbs of fuel internally already - extra load not necessary.
     -  This jet could top-off from traditional tankers then carry fuel close, or into hostile airspace while participating as a sensor if not a shooter.
3.  Hanging tanks (even conformal) would make it less stealthy, add dev time and certainly more cost.
4.  It's likely being built around a specific bomb load, (est. ~30k lbs) and adding significant fuel load is likely to change performance characteristics.

Some questions would be...

Is it worth it?  What is the radar risk of having two big jets in close proximity vs losing national assets & pilots to jets w/o fuel?
Is this risk acceptable inside hostile airspace, within 500 miles of hostile airspace?
Can a telescoping or folding boom system be developed that would fit in a bomb bay?
Does the B-21 have one or two bomb bays?  If two, would it be possible to carry some defensive/offensive load as well as a tanking mission?
Is refueling automation at a point where a boom operator wouldn't be required on the B-21?
Is this an case for an unmanned B-21 mission profile?
Regardless of all the above, this jet would still need a very long runway.  In an restrictive environment, is that available?
What would it cost to complete the above analysis?


They are interesting questions. 





Offline VTOLicious

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #139 on: January 30, 2017, 02:18:19 am »
The stealth tanker isn't all that new of an idea, this strike tanker wind tunnel test is from the airforce in 2005.
Sentinel

Hey Sentinel, can you provide the source document of the picture?

BR Michael

Offline flateric

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« Last Edit: January 30, 2017, 04:05:07 am by flateric »
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stealth, more than a few of them truly technically ignorant and proud of it." Sherm Mullin, Skunk Works

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Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #142 on: March 03, 2017, 12:08:28 pm »
Next-gen tanker must be survivable, not stealthy

The US Air Force’s KC-Z tanker may not be stealthy, but should be persistent and able to change its waveform signature management, according to the service’s head of air mobility command.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/next-gen-tanker-must-be-survivable-not-stealthy-434772/

Isn't waveform management actually a more radical solution than standard stealthy design features.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2017, 01:39:21 pm by Flyaway »

Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #143 on: May 10, 2017, 03:03:12 am »
Military Blended-Wing Body Variant Is Step Closer To Reality

The future development of Boeing’s blended-wing-body (BWB) configuration depends entirely on its suitability for carrying cargo, and in the case of a military tanker-transport in particular, its ability to perform airdrop missions. Key to this capability is an innovative cargo door that Boeing has designed to open like a clamshell in the trailing edge. However, it was unclear what effect such a radical door design opening in midair might have on the airflow around the trailing ...

http://m.aviationweek.com/defense/military-blended-wing-body-variant-step-closer-reality

Offline Airplane

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #144 on: May 10, 2017, 06:08:28 pm »
Money would be better spent on an aircraft like a VLO F-108 with very long range and with a long range follow on to AMRAAM... Something like Meteor. Money would also be better spent on VLO conventional ALCMs for Raiders and Bones. Money would be better spent on 140 to.200 Raiders.

And why the hell aren't we developing stealthy drop tanks? Material tech has come a long way, so its not impossible. I am ignorant of the F35s gun pod, but it appears it could be stealthy.

In this instance I think they are going overboard. Need more and better teeth instead of a gold plated tail.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 06:15:08 pm by Airplane »
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Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #145 on: May 11, 2017, 08:49:14 am »
Money would be better spent on an aircraft like a VLO F-108 with very long range and with a long range follow on to AMRAAM... Something like Meteor. Money would also be better spent on VLO conventional ALCMs for Raiders and Bones. Money would be better spent on 140 to.200 Raiders.

And why the hell aren't we developing stealthy drop tanks? Material tech has come a long way, so its not impossible. I am ignorant of the F35s gun pod, but it appears it could be stealthy.

In this instance I think they are going overboard. Need more and better teeth instead of a gold plated tail.

What's the point of developing stealthy fighters and attack craft like we are now unless we develop similarly stealthy support craft. At the moment conventional tankers are not operable over heavily contested airspace, therefore limiting the range of the more stealthy aircraft.

Offline Airplane

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #146 on: May 11, 2017, 06:18:45 pm »
Money would be better spent on an aircraft like a VLO F-108 with very long range and with a long range follow on to AMRAAM... Something like Meteor. Money would also be better spent on VLO conventional ALCMs for Raiders and Bones. Money would be better spent on 140 to.200 Raiders.

And why the hell aren't we developing stealthy drop tanks? Material tech has come a long way, so its not impossible. I am ignorant of the F35s gun pod, but it appears it could be stealthy.

In this instance I think they are going overboard. Need more and better teeth instead of a gold plated tail.

What's the point of developing stealthy fighters and attack craft like we are now unless we develop similarly stealthy support craft. At the moment conventional tankers are not operable over heavily contested airspace, therefore limiting the range of the more stealthy aircraft.

I thought it was obvious that is the exact opposite I was expressing . F-108 was a very long ranged escort for the Valkyrie. Why would anyone think it was similar to a tanker dependent F14 or Eagle!? We have never had an aircraft like the Rapier and the only thing close was the YF-12 which as you know was a very long legged plane. In the case of the Raider, I guarantee its got long legs.... Where in my post did I reccomend carrying on with tanker dependent planes??? More Raiders and a very long ranged air superiority platform with aams longer ranged than today. Where is that continuing on as we do today?

The idea of tanking up inside hot airspace to refuel a flight of Lightenings is prone to disaster. First of all the two most vulnerable events for a fighter are sitting in the ground and being refueled and unable to maneuver.

In fact the whole idea of the stealth tanker is as you say to continue on building tanker dependent platforms. So why do YOU want to not build long ranged platforms that are not tanker dependent?
"The test of success is not what you do when your on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.”
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Offline kaiserd

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #147 on: May 13, 2017, 08:02:30 am »
Money would be better spent on an aircraft like a VLO F-108 with very long range and with a long range follow on to AMRAAM... Something like Meteor. Money would also be better spent on VLO conventional ALCMs for Raiders and Bones. Money would be better spent on 140 to.200 Raiders.

And why the hell aren't we developing stealthy drop tanks? Material tech has come a long way, so its not impossible. I am ignorant of the F35s gun pod, but it appears it could be stealthy.

In this instance I think they are going overboard. Need more and better teeth instead of a gold plated tail.

What's the point of developing stealthy fighters and attack craft like we are now unless we develop similarly stealthy support craft. At the moment conventional tankers are not operable over heavily contested airspace, therefore limiting the range of the more stealthy aircraft.

I thought it was obvious that is the exact opposite I was expressing . F-108 was a very long ranged escort for the Valkyrie. Why would anyone think it was similar to a tanker dependent F14 or Eagle!? We have never had an aircraft like the Rapier and the only thing close was the YF-12 which as you know was a very long legged plane. In the case of the Raider, I guarantee its got long legs.... Where in my post did I reccomend carrying on with tanker dependent planes??? More Raiders and a very long ranged air superiority platform with aams longer ranged than today. Where is that continuing on as we do today?

The idea of tanking up inside hot airspace to refuel a flight of Lightenings is prone to disaster. First of all the two most vulnerable events for a fighter are sitting in the ground and being refueled and unable to maneuver.

In fact the whole idea of the stealth tanker is as you say to continue on building tanker dependent platforms. So why do YOU want to not build long ranged platforms that are not tanker dependent?

To be accurate neither the F-108 or the YF-12 were intended as long escort fighters. They were (relatively) long range interceptors intended to shoot down large bombers from long range with a forerunner of the Phoenix missile. As it neared cancellation the F-108 was also pitched as an escort for the Valkeryie but it (particularly its weapons) would not have been particularly well suited to to that role and tangling with its Soviet opposite numbers. Anyway it lacked the range to actually escort the Valkeryie (not the F-108s fault as a very different aircraft intended for a different role.
Essentially the same story with the YF-12 (faster and longer legged than a F-108 but even more unsuited to an escort fighter role.)

Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #148 on: September 20, 2017, 05:34:37 am »
USAF explores cloaking device for tankers

Quote
The US Air Force will next month unveil the results of a study into survivability gaps on its fleet of tankers and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, the service’s head of Air Mobility Command (AMC) says.

Quote
AMC chief Gen Carlton Everhart has previously discussed a "cloaking" capability for the USAF’s next-generation KC-Z tanker, which would allow the aircraft to fend off adversaries by manipulating its radar signature. This process would involve taking radiant energy from a radar and diffusing it to disguise a tanker or airlifter's outline, he says.

Speaking at the Air Force Association's annual convention, Everhart says: “It’s not as simple as I think it is. If you get one electron out, you just identified yourself to the adversary.”

Everhart has not commented on whether the USAF will release a request for information linked to the so-called cloaking capability, but confirms that he discussed the concept with industry on the floor of the Air, Space and Cyber conference.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usaf-explores-cloaking-device-for-tankers-441299/

Offline Grey Havoc

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #149 on: September 20, 2017, 05:59:18 am »
A deception jammer in other words.
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Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #150 on: September 20, 2017, 01:01:29 pm »
In relation to the above article.

Quote
tephen Trimble @FG_STrim
I can only guess Gen Everhart is talking about plasma stealth//USAF explores cloaking device for tankers

https://mobile.twitter.com/FG_STrim/status/910485936378712064

Offline Trident

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #151 on: September 20, 2017, 01:06:38 pm »
Sounds more like active cancellation to me, actually.

Offline flateric

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #152 on: September 20, 2017, 02:07:09 pm »
...
"There are many disbelievers in
stealth, more than a few of them truly technically ignorant and proud of it." Sherm Mullin, Skunk Works

Offline hesham

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #153 on: September 20, 2017, 02:59:23 pm »
Just dreams,who will do this ?.

Offline Triton

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #154 on: September 20, 2017, 07:59:59 pm »
Do you have information about this concept?

« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 08:04:18 pm by Triton »

Offline Grey Havoc

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #155 on: September 21, 2017, 03:11:32 am »
Do you have information about this concept?



Associated thread is missing or off limits for some reason.
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Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #156 on: September 21, 2017, 03:55:29 am »
I am also wondering why this has been moved out of the Aerospace forum when this is in relation to the KC-Z tanker requirement.

Offline flateric

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #157 on: September 21, 2017, 06:41:04 am »
KC-Z already build or what?
"There are many disbelievers in
stealth, more than a few of them truly technically ignorant and proud of it." Sherm Mullin, Skunk Works

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #158 on: September 21, 2017, 07:55:35 am »
Sounds obvious to me - There is a very simple way of having a stealth tanker. Just put some fuel tanks in a Northrop B-2A bomb bays, and use the Navy probe-and-drogue system (no need for a fixed boom)
According to Wikipedia,
Quote
The B-2 is capable of carrying 40,000 lb (18,000 kg) of ordnance

Not a lot of fuel, but well enough for a F-35 or even a F-22.
One weapons bay of the B-2 is plumbed for an auxilary tank.  Install refueling system of choice (IMHO, it's easier to do a LO probe and drogue system, but I could see a LO boom, too) and you're ready to go.  You could even make both modular.  If you want a dedicated aircraft, the boom operator could be placed in the unused third seat position.

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #159 on: September 21, 2017, 07:57:41 am »
Sounds obvious to me - There is a very simple way of having a stealth tanker. Just put some fuel tanks in a Northrop B-2A bomb bays, and use the Navy probe-and-drogue system (no need for a fixed boom)

And retrofit every F-22 and USAF F-35 with a probe instead of (or in addition to) a receptacle.  Suddenly not so trivial a process.
Well, at a cost of weight and system complexity, you could add a dual refueling capability to the F-35A.  The territory used for the probe on the F-35B and F-35C is left clear on the F-35A for commonality of systems installations.

Offline sferrin

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #160 on: September 21, 2017, 08:52:39 am »
Sounds obvious to me - There is a very simple way of having a stealth tanker. Just put some fuel tanks in a Northrop B-2A bomb bays, and use the Navy probe-and-drogue system (no need for a fixed boom)

And retrofit every F-22 and USAF F-35 with a probe instead of (or in addition to) a receptacle.  Suddenly not so trivial a process.
Well, at a cost of weight and system complexity, you could add a dual refueling capability to the F-35A.  The territory used for the probe on the F-35B and F-35C is left clear on the F-35A for commonality of systems installations.

The had both on the F-101 and F-105 so. . .
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #161 on: September 21, 2017, 09:13:51 am »
F-105D and F-105F/G only, IIRC.  The earlier F-105's had just probe and drogue; there's even, again IIRC, a picture of one F-105A doing a buddy refueling of a F-105B using an interesting centerline pod with a boom dropping down to deploy the drogue clear of the tanker aircraft.

Offline AeroFranz

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #162 on: September 21, 2017, 09:16:14 am »
Correct. The refueling pod has an interesting 'knee' joint to extend the length of the boom and achieve greater separation.
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Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #163 on: September 22, 2017, 04:00:34 am »
KC-Z already build or what?

What’s that got to do with it?

Offline flateric

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #164 on: September 22, 2017, 05:06:16 am »
"There are many disbelievers in
stealth, more than a few of them truly technically ignorant and proud of it." Sherm Mullin, Skunk Works

Offline Flyaway

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #165 on: September 24, 2017, 05:47:05 am »
KC-Z already build or what?

What’s that got to do with it?

Well perhaps if you’d bothered pointing that in your original post rather than being needlessly snarky I might have realised.

Offline royabulgaf

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Re: Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
« Reply #166 on: September 25, 2017, 08:17:57 pm »
I think two things are going on here-  First, some sort of active stealth system that might require a large aircraft to carry.  Second, this aircraft is not going over or near contested territory.  The stealt just has to be good enough to seem like something else.