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LM Skunk Works 2002 Force Employment Tanker (FET)

flateric

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http://www.flightglobal.com/PDFArchive/View/2002/2002%20-%202480.html

Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works
has unveiled the concept design for
a dedicated air-to-air refuelling
tanker, which it claims would be
smaller and cheaper than current
modified commercial airframes,
but be capable of off-loading
more fuel, and flying faster and at
greater range.
 

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Antonio

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Lockheed studied several advanced tanker concepts in the 90's but at the end, the USAF has choosen a modified airliner again.
 

Kim Margosein

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This is what burns me about the contract award to Airbus. Okay, we need some repeat some tankers like yesterday. So, you buy a few from Boeing, but with the understanding that the real money goes to Lockheed/Martin or Northrop/Grumman to design and build a new-generation tanker that can also provide the basis for a new generation of airliners. It is a shame that the world depends on a duopoly for wide-body airliners.

Kim M
 

Just call me Ray

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I guess it's the "single-purpose" and "untried" mentality. Just like how instead of ordering a brand new ASW aircraft, the RAF ordered the Nimrod MRA 4 which is pretty much a brand new ASW aircraft but looks the same, or how the USN instead of a new fighter ordered the Super Bug which is pretty much brand new but looks the same. The only reason why the USAF went with a brand-new all jet design (the KC-135) is because there was nothing "off-the-shelf" that was suitable, up until that point they had been using converted B-29s, B-50s and C-97s.

At least the new Airbus tanker will be a jolly good aircraft.
 

Kim Margosein

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This isn't a done deal by a long shot. For you folks outside the US, this is catching flak on political (local and national) and economic levels. Perhaps this should go on a separate thread?

What say you, moderator?

Kim M
 

CFE

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The Boeing BWB concept would make for an excellent tanker, if you've got the time and money required for its development. I really don't see the Air Force being able to afford it anytime soon.

The 787 is a better near-term solution if it can make good on its promises of 20% less fuel burn per seat-mile than the 767. I'd certainly like to see a KC-787, but I realize that the AF can't waint that long for slots to open up on the 787 production line.
 

Grey Havoc

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I'd say by this time there are a fair few people in both the USAF and the DOD who wish the Air Force had taken the leap and gone with the FET, even if only as a backup option. Yet again, the road not taken.... :(
 

Pat Flannery

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It would be interesting seeing them try to convert that into a airliner, as most of the passengers would find themselves sitting inside of the wing. :D
As to why the composite airframe has advantages by being proof against chemical and biological warfare is a good question... is there a danger that enemy cruise missiles loaded with nitric acid are gong to dissolve our current metal tanker fleet by hosing them down from above their home airfields?
 

TomS

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Pat Flannery said:
As to why the composite airframe has advantages by being proof against chemical and biological warfare is a good question... is there a danger that enemy cruise missiles loaded with nitric acid are gong to dissolve our current metal tanker fleet by hosing them down from above their home airfields?

It seems more likely that this refers to the relative ease of decontaminating a composite aircraft with fewer seams and exposed rivets that could retain CBW materials.

The problem with the FET is that it probably can't handle the same non-fuel cargo now carried by tanker aircraft. Sure, it isn't a "deployment tanker" like the KC-10, but even the KC-135 gets used to haul pallets and pax as well as gas. The unpressurized FET, not so much.
 

Pat Flannery

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In the painting of it from the front it looks for all the world like a giant business jet.
It's an interesting concept though; halfway between a conventional aircraft and a spanloader flying wing.
If they wanted to build it, it looks like a very workable idea.
 

taildragger

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The problem with the FET is that it probably can't handle the same non-fuel cargo now carried by tanker aircraft. Sure, it isn't a "deployment tanker" like the KC-10, but even the KC-135 gets used to haul pallets and pax as well as gas. The unpressurized FET, not so much.

I'm not sure that this would be a big problem. Yes, the current tanker force hauls pallets and pax, but that flexibility requires hauling around a lot of dead weight on tanking missions. The tanker gear also probably compromises the airlift mission. The Air Force is designed to respond to international crises and any I can't think of any requiring massive airlift that haven't also required massive tanking - ie: there's enough work to go around for two more efficient fleets of specialized aircraft.
Of course, tankers will be derived from airliners for the forseeable future, so the tanker/transport concept isn't going anywhere.
 
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