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USAF seeks bridge to cover air refueling gap

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The Air Force is facing a gap in aerial refueling capacity through the mid-2020s as it retires aged KC-10 and KC-135 tankers faster than they can be replaced by the troubled KC-46A Pegasus or a follow-on tanker aimed at serving as a bridge between existing and next-generation capabilities. In 2021, the Air Force’s 442 operational KC-10s and KC-135s and 50 partially operational KC-46As were “likely capable” of delivering approximately 33 million pounds of fuel at 2,500 nautical miles, said… (www.nationaldefensemagazine.org) 更多...

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upchucked
C. WESLEY GRADY 29
NOTE: Hey guys, here's a suggestion, only a suggestion, but .... why not wait to retire the KC10 & KC135 tankers until AFTER you have their replacement in place. Only a suggestion, mind you.
augerin
Dave Mathes 11
...in addition, make sure the replacement WORKS...just sayin'...
btweston
btweston 2
Because aircraft have hour and cycle limitations. Yep.
lead63
S A Fisher 2
Here's another thought, put a boom on the MQ-25 Stingray and fill the gap with this.
topgunnh
Peter McGrath 4
Or you could go with the plan the Biden admin is using now where you get rid of fossil fuel before you figure out what you're going to replace it with, as well as all the "little" things nobody's talking about like 2) what vehicle(s) the alternative will work with, 3) the mass availability of said vehicles, 4) the cost of replacement of current vehicles, 5) the disposal of vehicles replaced, and probably a couple of other things, but it's the government and they never plan or think about anything other than the idea they have!
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 2
They figured out what to replace it with , the problem is that the replacements aren't available. NOt available because the prices are too high and not available because the products are not in stock/they can't build it at scale yet. It only exists on paper. Dumbest shit ever. LEave it to puppet biden and his cronies to screw up just about anything.
phishhman
Brian Ratcliff 2
Yes, it must be Biden. This whole situation happened in the last year and a half. 🙄
MikeMohle
Mike Mohle 0
Government is great at everything!
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 -8
You obviously have no CLUE how hard it is to keep a 50+ year old plane flying.
srobak
srobak 9
Obviously a lot less than it takes to keep the KC-46 flying and mission capable. :)

Keeping the 135 and even the 52 in the air is a lot easier than you might think.... sure it takes lots of manhours, but the parts for both are in massive abundance due to the premature demilitarization of our country starting at the end of the cold war.

When it takes less effort and parts to keep a 50 year old plane in the air & ready to fulfill it's mission than it does a brand new one - well... there's a message in there.
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 -9
You just wrote that it's NOT easier. A lot of manhours = $$$$$. Parts are CERTAINLY not in abundance. The plan for the b52 is to run the plane until 2050. No way there are enough engines to replace those. It's going to take a long time to replace all of them hence the current decision. A decision made today will take years to execute. For instance the engine replacement on the b52 isn't fully done until 2038 !!!
gharper501
Gary Harper 10
The USAF doesn't seem to have a problem keeping their 50+ year old B-52's flying...
jbsimms
James Simms 4
Nor U-2’s
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 -9
Again, you have NO CLUE. The B52's require a LOT to keep them flying including but not limited to a big re-engine project ! Very costly.
21voyageur
Dan Chiasson 9
He did not state that there was not a lot to keep them flying. He stated they could keep them flying. Please avoid speaking before thinking. Works better the other way around.
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 -9
JC. Another clueless. It all comes down to $$$. YEs, you can keep them flying. You can also make pigs fly. IS it a wise decision? no. Same for these old planes. The b52 is kept flying because it's still cheaper to re-engine/etc them than to build (or worse DESIGN) a bomber. Not so w the kc10's. There IS a new tanker model which is MUCH cheaper to operate. Sure it's got issues but name me one airplane in the airforce from the last 40 years that hasn't had issues at the start? A depth perception in the av system isn't a difficult issue to overcome. It's not rocket science.
21voyageur
Dan Chiasson 12
Spoken from the absolute king of noise and fury.
srobak
srobak 6
Stop retiring the 10's and 135's. And in fact - regenerate some of the too many that are sitting at AMARC.

It's either that - or start picking up the A330's. They work and have already been in service for quite some time.

The 46 isn't going to cut it.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

srobak
srobak 6
grew up an AF brat, served in the AF - and my last assignment was at a KC-135 & B-52 base. I am well aware of what it takes - and understand this:

The ONLY reasons they were retired was because congress started gutting our military through 5 rounds of BRAC at the end of the cold war. They whacked a million troops across all the braches, closed over 400 bases, eliminated 40% of our ground power, 25% of our sea power and 60% of our air power. It cost more to shut down those bases and idle that equipment and force out those troops than it would have cost to keep them going for another 2 generations.

B-1 and B-2 are already being retired while the 52 keeps going - and the "new" replacement B-21 isn't even off the ground yet. KC-135 and 10s keep going while the 46 can't get cleared for service. F-15 and 16 keep going while the F-35 was and still plagued with issues and can't seem to do 1 role with excellence - instead trying to be a jack of all trades. The only good post cold war & replacement aircraft that has come out was the F-22, and they prematurely killed that because of crybabies on the F-35 project.

All of it was one giant short-sighted mistake and has turned into a gigantic ball of a mess - and the proof is in the fact that rather than retire even the antique 52 in favor of the 21.... they know their nuts are in a vice and instead opt to re-engine the remaining aircraft.

There's a message in there.... do you understand it?
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 -3
YEah, I get it loud and clear. IT's all about the $$$$
Old planes cost a lot of money, more money over time when ample supplies dry up and more and more has to be build from scratch. Why dump more money into an old plane that doesn't give you any advantage over a newer plane? IF there was any advantage in running old planes at high cost, why even build new planes? Do you understand ?
avionik99
avionik99 16
The " remote vision system" is a complete failure. Why they want to go all High Tech just for the sole purpose of being High Tech is beyond me. We have a tried and true method of a boomer with eyes on that has worked very well for decades. If they had kept that method we would not be having this conversation. Stupid Boeing
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 15
Absolutely. The simplest solutions are usually best. The good ole KISS principal.
21voyageur
Dan Chiasson 6
But there is a movement toward unmanned capabilities in this area. Apparently the road to get there is a bumpy one. If the USA can't address that development capability, someone else in Europe will/has, and once again, the US will be a consumer and not a developer. My 2 cents.
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 0
This isn't rocket science. It can easily be done the right way.
augerin
Dave Mathes 4
...Boeing can't seem to get their rocket science down either...
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 2
Shocker, right.
pwpereira
Pete Pereira 5
Before you go around calling anyone stupid, it would behoove you to learn who sets the requirements for the product.
jdriskell
James Driskell 2
Oh, no one would ever call the AF stupid. Especially when it comes to buying toilet seats!
augerin
Dave Mathes 2
...please feel free to call me stupid...
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 2
I know, and that wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular. I am well aware of the how and why a $20 wrench at you local Ace Hardware winds up costing the AF $200. There is a good reason the toilet seats for the C-5 were going to cost $10k, and a just as valid reason why they wound up costing ~$300.
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 3
yeah, some testing before hand would have shown the issue long before.
augerin
Dave Mathes 3
...a lot of money could have been used to make the boomers more comfortable...they're some hardcore folks...
augerin
Dave Mathes 8
...congratulations skyaware123...you are today's official authority on us 'stupid and clueless' peoples...well done!...
jbsimms
James Simms 4
Bless his heart, he just can’t help it. He just keeps shooting himself in the foot…. Maybe he’s the alter ego of MH 370?
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 -4
Says the guy too chicken to post under his own name and creating a new account. bravo, coward.
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 0
Happy to take the award. :-)
augerin
Dave Mathes 1
...like your style..if you don't have humor on this site, well, you don't have humor being in aviation...
fireboy9490
Bob Woodruff 5
Just remember, Airbus actually won the competition for this and was going to build a plant in the South to manufacture the airframes. They already had a boom that worked, but Boeing who sat on their laurels during the initial process, protested and somehow got the bidding done again and now we're stuck with a system that doesn't work, go figure!
jbsimms
James Simms 3
Airbus went ahead & built a plant in Mobile, AL for commercial aircraft where they were going to build the tanker. Lockheed Martin and European aerospace firm Airbus have announced that they will manufacture the LMXT strategic tanker aircraft in Mobile, Alabama, and Marietta, Georgia.

https://www.thedefensepost.com/2022/02/01/lockheed-airbus-tanker-aircraft/
21voyageur
Dan Chiasson 3
Yup. Says TONS! Wonder why Airbus even bothered. Guess they were outbid on the "grifting" side of the RFP.
jdriskell
James Driskell 6
Thanks to John McCain, the AF is twenty years behind in replacing the KC-135 tankers. Then of course, the AF tries to gold plate everything new including the toilet seats in the new tankers.
augerin
Dave Mathes 4
...here's one to start the day off...if the AF gold plates everything, imagine what the 'space force' is gonna' require for its bling...I'm out...
srobak
srobak 1
you know there's no toilets on the tankers, right?
augerin
Dave Mathes 1
...uh, last time I checked they did, right?...
srobak
srobak 3
On my 135's we had metal buckets and portable latrines.
ultramac
Andrew McNeil 4
Boeing needs to be held to account for their inept business practices, why do we allow the Pentagon to white wash this action?
21voyageur
Dan Chiasson 6
My thought in terms of possible reasons are:

1- made in the USA (for better or for worse)
2- employment
3- made in the USA
4- stockholder equity (including pension plans and investment firms)
5- made in the USA
6- politics
7- made in the USA
8- a need to have in-country development capabilities to support the "shining city upon a hill" persona (internal and globally)
9- made in the USA

and most importantly , , , ,

9- made in the USA
augerin
Dave Mathes 2
...you forgot 'grifting'...
21voyageur
Dan Chiasson 3
The list could, indeed, be very long but it was only intended to be a catalyst. Remind me. Is the USA a 1st or, heading toward 2nd world country status, where grifting is the oil in the machine?
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 1
Boom. When 'made in USA' has a higher priority over an actual working product you get this shit.
augerin
Dave Mathes 4
...'Boeing' and 'accountable' CANNOT be used in the same sentence...please clean up your grammar...
21voyageur
Dan Chiasson 4
Haha. Good one. Too big to fail syndrome. . . .
flybd5juan
Juan Jimenez 2
There's the solution to Malaysia Airline's problem getting rid of A380's. Make them tankers.
21voyageur
Dan Chiasson 2
Yeah but WAIT ! ! ! ! that is not an American-built airframe. Aint't gonna happen :-{)
srobak
srobak 1
That would be a very expensive retrofit. So much of the airframe would have to be redone. You know they just can't toss a bunch of plastic fuel containers in the cargo hold, right?
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 1
The problem isn’t with the airframe, it’s with the remote camera system for boomlet, as opposed to the Mk 1 eyeball system in the current tankers.
augerin
Dave Mathes 3
...lessee, we need a tanker to support the tanker to support the tanker 'cuz the original tanker just kept tickin' along...did I get that right?...
Justthefacs
Justthefacs 4
No big problem guys. We are destroying the petroleum industry and we won't have any fuel to transfer. Problem solved. One of Germany's big problems during WW2 was no petroleum. We are creating or have created the same problem for the USA.
MikeMohle
Mike Mohle 3
USAF, et al, is in the process of switching over to "renewable bio-fuels", so they will need to pump something.
flybd5juan
Juan Jimenez 3
You must be a special kind of stupid. The oil industry is making money hand over fist right now.
SkyAware123
SkyAware123 -1
lol. Because there is a shortage. You must be even more stupid.
srobak
srobak 4
there is no shortage. there is profit margin... and a shit ton of it. Q1 was a banner quarter for all the major oil companies... the highest profits they have had in years. Don't think Q2 will be any different. Same shit happened during the last major gas spike in the mid-late 2000's. I think it was either 05 or 07 - Exxon made more profits in one quarter than it did the entire previous year. F that.

Don't even think about parroting the "putin price hike" or "russian oil shortage" nonsense. Depending on who you believe - the US imported between 4 and 8% of it's oil from Russian sources. That in no way extrapolates out to a "shortage" or 200-300% price increases at the pump.
augerin
Dave Mathes 2
...ok bro. you got my vote on this one...
briansfreeman
Brian Freeman 2
www.omegaairrefuleing.com
srobak
srobak 3
which uses retired USAF 135's and KC-10s. They are also already contracted to the AF for work and have been for (too) many years.
ssobol
Stefan Sobol 2
Omega contracts with the Navy. Has been for over 20 years. The idea of contractor air-refueling is new to the AF, and they can't seem to get the contacts in order. Omega has the planes to do AF air-air refueling once the AF gets the paperwork in order.
cstew69
Chris Stewart 2
The USAF should have bought the A330 tanker. Far superior product, and ALREADY being delivered. This disaster is just another example of the slow-moving train wreck that is Boeing. But of course in ‘Merica, we can’t have one of them foreign airplanes in our Air Force.
srobak
srobak 2
They should have - but it's not up to the air force. It's all political bullshit. Just like the situation between the F-22 and the 35.
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 3
And, as I recall, a senior USAF civilian, Undersecretary level, went to jail for steering the contract to Boeing, rather than EADS.
satterwhite777
Jeff satterwhite 1
W/o reading the other posts. Boeing should own the A/R in the world!!! Put a refueler in the
belly of a tanker and have them give fuel to the planes!!
williampickett75
My opinion is to get rid of the "Flying Boom" and just go with what the Navy, Marin Corp, and the rest of NATO uses Probe-and-Drogue system. Which can also tank 2 aircrafts at a time. Or just keep it as it was. One airman lying on his belly and looking through a glass straight at the aircraft getting refueled. Unless you install a Multiple-Point Refueling System "Buddy Pod"
ToddBaldwin3
ToddBaldwin3 1
The USAF uses a boom system because they needed a higher flow rate than is possible with a drogue and probe system. The USAF tanker fleet was designed to support the need of fuel thirst aircraft like the B-52, the C-5, The C-141.
overpar56
Steve Stein 1
Every guy should be troubled by a stiff boom.
n7777r
Derek Vaughn 0
Democrats are like, we don't need to be burning fossil fuel anyway, so what's the problem...
mmc7090
mmc7090 -2
Brandon and the Demolition Party says Americans don't need AR15s. He has no need to project power with planet killing fossil fuels. To incompetent to kick Putin's ass out of Ukraine and green lighted a minor incursion. Total dunderhead loaded the Pentagon with CRT and global warming BS.
jdriskell
James Driskell 0
Why to some of the less informed always try to make a political statement about what they obviously know nothing about and apply it to a aviation subject? Enough already!

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