LightningZ71 wrote:It was a pennywise and pound foolish decision to retire the S3 tankers in favor of buddy tanking with the F-18s. The S3 fleet still had plenty of life left in it for continued use as a tanker, but the desire to trim down the logistics train lead to it getting the boot. Instead, we put about 20% of the flight time on the F-18s as buddy tankers (from what I've read), thus shortening their lives.
INFINITI329 wrote:I always thought bringing old C-2s up to C-2A (R) standards as well as outfitting with applicable refueling gear (to include a fuel bladder in the cargo area) would have been a possible cost-effective solution for the Navy as far as refueling is considered.
Do you mean pulling existing fleet back for modification, or do you mean fresh air-frames produced for the purpose?
kanban wrote:puzzling, I look at the pictures and see an F-35 lined up for refuel by drone... yet the drones appear to be drogue only... and with all the noise about the F-46 dinging the paint what is the probability that a drone operated from 200 to 2000 miles away won't do the same
Either...which ever would be cheaper for the USN. I wouldn't be surprised if new build would be cheaper. I am not sold on the drone proposition. I think it needs to be a larger airplane with a greater fuel capacity and longer loiter times and this why a modified C-2 came to mind. However, these frames are 25 years plus. Maybe modified V-22s or modified E-2D minus the dish and related comm equipment are the real answers
The US Marine Corps expects to declare initial operational capability for the Bell Boeing V-22 Aerial Refuelling System (VARS) in late 2019, with the milestone to represent the availability of an initial four mission-equipped aircraft.
VARS will be qualified with the USMC’s Boeing AV-8B, F/A-18 and Lockheed Martin F-35B strike aircraft and Sikorsky CH-53 fleets, although a testing timeline has yet to be worked out, says Lt Col Douglas Ogden, MV-22 military platform lead at the V-22 joint progamme office. The service had originally hoped to have the in-flight refuelling system ready to support initial operations with the F-35B, but a contract award was delayed until October 2016.
Cobham Mission Systems will begin delivering production VARS sets during 2018, with the equipment based on its existing FR300 hose-drum unit. Proximity trials performed with F/A-18s in 2013 and 2015 identified no issues with the fighters flying close behind the tiltrotor, Ogden told the IQ Defence International Helicopter Conference in London on 1 February.
Ozair wrote:It would make sense to use an engine already on a USN platform, such as the F404 or F414, reuse parts, systems and sensors on any current platforms, else the whole point of rationalizing the shipboard fleet of aircraft is lost.
Lockheed Martin’s unmanned MQ-25 tanker drone proposal for the Navy will incorporate some familiar equipment, including the General Electric F404 turbofan engine that powers the Super Hornet and the F-35C landing gear made by United Technologies Corp., company executives announced Monday.
Triumph Aerostructures, which will manufacture the internal structure of the drone, rounds out the list of suppliers disclosed by Rob Weiss, outgoing head of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, and Jeff Babione, who will take over Skunk Works this summer.
“We’ve done a great job of pulling together a real proven set of aerospace technology providers,” Babione told reporters during a briefing at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference.
Triumph has manufactured structures for a wide range of aircraft including Northrop Grumman’s E-2D Hawkeye, the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey and Lockheed’s F-35 joint strike fighter, he said. Meanwhile UTC’s landing gear has proven its utility in a “difficult use environment,” and the F404 has clocked more than 13 million flight hours.
“That engine is already on the carrier and they would have everything they would need to support the MQ-25, no innovation required — extremely important in reducing the risk and overall cost,” Babione said.
Although Lockheed’s MQ-25 offering is re-using equipment from legacy airframes, Skunk Works is arguably taken the most risk in its design, putting out a tanker drone concept that doesn’t look much like its competitors.
For one, the company ditched its previous design after the Navy ended its program for an surveillance and strike drone and began an effort to develop an unmanned aerial refueling asset, whereas competitors General Atomics and Boeing heavily reused their MQ-25 designs.
But perhaps even more noticeably, Lockheed is the only competitor offering a flying wing aircraft after Northrop Grumman dropped out of the competition last year. Both General Atomics and Boeing have notably put forward wing-body-tail aircraft.
“We did a number of trade studies,” but found its previous design “was a compromise, as frankly most derivatives end up being,” explained Weiss. The company viewed wing-body-tail configurations as “big, heavy, expensive” and “not as high performing an airplane as we would like,” and returned to a flying wing configuration.
Lockheed liked the higher range and low fuel consumption of a flying wing design, Weiss said. Another Lockheed official on the program added that most tankers store fuel in its wings, “but all we are is a wing,” potentially allowing it to carry more fuel.
Another big departure from its competitors is Lockheed’s sales approach, which has showcased the aircraft’s room to grow into other applications, including a penetrating strike mission.
A video revealed during the briefing Monday showed Lockheed’s MQ-25 launching two AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapons from the hard points that would usually carry its drop tank and refueling pod.
Meanwhile, while the MQ-25 is not a stealth aircraft, it’s a “a plane form that would lend itself to a low observable design,” Weiss said, and could be modified to be LO in the future if the Navy wishes.
LightningZ71 wrote:I'm not sold that LM's plan for using the F404 is a great idea. The Navy is already looking at drawing down it's legacy hornet fleet. The instant that happens, that engine becomes an orphan, only to be used on this tanker.
LightningZ71 wrote:I think that they may have been better served in the long run to integrate around the F414 from the Super Bug. Yes, it's larger, heavier, and would likely be somewhat less efficient in this use case, but it is not only already integrated on the carriers, it's going to be there for at least a decade or two longer. Not going that route, they should have chosen an engine that was more heavily optimized for the efficiency and thrust class that optimizes the frame.
LightningZ71 wrote:I'm a long way removed from my days as an aerospace engineering student in college (before I changed majors) and the F404 just makes me uncomfortable with the project for longevity reasons.
tommy1808 wrote:LightningZ71 wrote:I'm a long way removed from my days as an aerospace engineering student in college (before I changed majors) and the F404 just makes me uncomfortable with the project for longevity reasons.
I think its a typo, the article says super hornet, and it is a 414.
ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:tommy1808 wrote:LightningZ71 wrote:I'm a long way removed from my days as an aerospace engineering student in college (before I changed majors) and the F404 just makes me uncomfortable with the project for longevity reasons.
I think its a typo, the article says super hornet, and it is a 414.
I'm seeing F404 referenced in several areas. So either a typo in the press release or it's the actual choice.
http://aviationweek.com/awindefense/sku ... a-proposal
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... ng-447457/
LightningZ71 wrote:With the recent article on thedrive.com stating that the Legacy Hornet's have seen their last mission deployment on a USN carrier, there will be no navy planes regularly using those engines anymore. The Marines will still have many in service, but I fear that they will only briefly be in use on the carriers themselves going forward. The F404 will be an orphan on the refueling platform in a very short time.
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