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william
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Naval refueling drones

Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:35 pm

 
mxaxai
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:55 pm

longer loiter times, lower risk for crew.
 
bigjku
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Tue Mar 27, 2018 4:08 pm

You should get more payload to offload as well. You should increase offload by whatever weight of human support equipment you eliminate which I would guess is substantial. Plus, while you wouldn’t do it regularly, you could basically make one expendable in extreme situations and increase the offload further.

Finally it’s a good place to proof test folding drones into the carrier fleet. It’s relatively low risk and a good way to debug that whole process.
 
muralir
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Tue Mar 27, 2018 5:52 pm

The biggest benefit to having a dedicated, low cost carrier-based tanker drone is you lower the number of F/A-18 flights doing tanker duty. I can't find the exact numbers right now, but a surprising number of flying hours of the F/A-18 fleet is as tankers. This is a phenomenal waste of flight hours leading to reduced service life for its primary mission as a fighter.

So instead of wasting the service life of an expensive fighter jet to do tanker duty, you can have a few dedicated drone tankers and reserve your F/A-18 flight hours for actual mission objectives.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:11 am

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.
 
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cjg225
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:26 pm

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.

Some of it was the desire to reduce even further the complexity of the MRO/parts shop needs by having the same platform do everything, but at some point you kinda need some level of complexity for the purpose of the mission and for capability. Keeping either the S-3 or the KA-6 would've been a smart move for the latter.
Restoring Penn State's transportation heritage...
 
salttee
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:59 pm

Besides, they have money to burn. The sooner they can use up the FA-18s the sooner they can go to all F-35s for strike aircraft.
A big problem for the Navy is that their stuff lasts too long.
 
INFINITI329
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sun Apr 01, 2018 3:21 am

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.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sun Apr 01, 2018 6:34 am

it's not too far fetched. The E2 will be in use for a long time to come. It isn't beyond the realm of possibility that the manufacturer could have just taken the E2 fuselage, automated the cockpit, and made a tanker that was as parts compatible as possible with the current E2 Hawkeye's that are in use. The platform already has considerable loiter time and range. Removing the crew and their stations and replacing that volume with additional fuel storage would have more than filled the refueling requirements. Modest automated sensors could have been included for the surveillance portion of the contract as well.
 
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SeJoWa
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:50 am

You don't have to pair these with a pilot each, who needs to be instructed, trained, evaluated, maintained, berthed, better protected than chips, and payed a pension.

Ready to fly off the factory floor into combat, join a networked swarm, and stay on station for extended times without succumbing to tedium.

Swarms win wars: the US built 74,564 combat and 21,706 support aircraft in 1944.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_St ... rld_War_II

The Navy has been dragging its feet in an unacceptable manner when it comes to autonomous vehicles - these need less refining of requirements, and a lot more focus on flexibly bringing successive generations of experimental squadrons into active service.

The first carriers didn't much resemble the ships integrated into American task forces later on either.

And what about a networked seaplane drone based on the same underlying technology?

And a substitute for the expensive Ospreys selected for shuttling supplies between shore and ship?
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:01 am

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that you build up experience operating UAVs in a naval environment. This will then lead directly into modifications or new designs for naval UCAVs.
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:42 pm

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.


From the buzz one hears for the net, it sounds like the existing C-2 fleet is overused, under-resourced, and in need of investment as it is.
As an outsider, I get an impression that the existing C-2 operation is hanging on by skin of the teeth of the mechanics, who keep these birds in the air, and perseverance of the flight crews, who accept to fly them as they are, despite all shortcomings. (Again, I'm an outsider, so maybe the problem is out of proportion, in my view.)

Do you mean pulling existing fleet back for modification, or do you mean fresh air-frames produced for the purpose?
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kanban
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:40 pm

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
 
INFINITI329
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:45 pm

Phosphorus wrote:

Do you mean pulling existing fleet back for modification, or do you mean fresh air-frames produced for the purpose?


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
 
angad84
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:53 pm

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

Can't tell if you're being serious or not.

The F-35C (in the pictures you saw) refuels via hose-and-drogue, as does the F-35B. Only the F-35A needs a boom.
 
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kanban
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:08 pm

aaagh!!! where is my coffee when I need it
 
Ozair
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:08 pm

INFINITI329 wrote:

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

I think a drone refueller is what the USN needs but it needs to be done correctly. 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.

Anyone know what the offload requirement is?

The V-22 refueller is going to happen, the USMC is planning for late 2019 for IOC. I believe it will provide a 10,000lb offload so could be a viable backup if necessary and better than using SH time.

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.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... it-433899/
 
Planeflyer
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:59 pm

This is a first step. Lots of learning is going to take place over the next 10 years. I think not only will UAV refueling become wide spread but will be carried out on stealth platforms.
 
Ozair
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:44 pm

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.

Looks like LM is going with what I suggested above,

Lockheed announces industry partners on Navy’s MQ-25 tanker drone offering

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.

https://www.defensenews.com/digital-sho ... -offering/

Image
 
Ozair
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:40 pm

So Boeing have now released a full image of their submisison for the MQ-25 and it includes an interesting choice on the location of the intake.

Image

Some images of all three can be found on this twitter page, https://twitter.com/JamesDrewNews/statu ... 3343500288
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:43 am

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. 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.
 
Ozair
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:53 am

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.

While I agree the USN is drawing down their classic Hornet fleet the USMC currently plans to maintain the classic Hornet until 2030 and a significant number of those are designated for carrier airwings. Hence the F404 still has some live left. It also benefits from having an existing maintenance infrastructure, industrial base, spares pool, training pool and knowledge.

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.

I think the F414 is probably too big but I agree the life will be a lot longer on the carrier. Both Boeing and GA have gone for smaller engines which are probably better suited to the size of the airframe so it may be a trade off with size, efficiency, existing infrastructure and any requirement for growth potential. LM are trumping up their platform as multi-role which, depending upon how the competition is graded, is probably not going to win them any more points since the USN de-scoped the ISR/Strike mission so the F404 may end up hurting their bid.

The other side is how long do we expect this tanker UAV to serve? I can see the MQ-25 being on the deck for 5-10 years max before it is superseded by a higher spec or newer UAV platform that will truly be multi-role.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:19 pm

Well, considering the information that's out there on how few of them are expected to be purchased from the program in the first place, I suspect that it won't serve overly long either. It looked like that only 5 of them would be firm purchases in the first 5 years of the program, with maybe enough purchased to have a handful per carrier available at max. At such a slow rate of production, the last of the purchased run of frames won't even be leaving the factory until 2025 or so. If the Marines somehow manage to keep their Legacy Hornets running through some sort of voodoo and liberal amount of speed tape to get to 2030, that will only be 5 years of life with another frame in the fleet to spread the engine costs over.

I just don't see that being a good business case.

I am beginning to think that a better approach for this whole project may have been to use a pair of considerably smaller engines, some sort of compact sized turbofan for maximum efficiency. If it's small enough, it can more easily be stored in quantity. Broken ones can be sent off for depot level maintenance instead of having to maintain the needed machinery to do intensive service on the carrier. Transporting them can be done in numbers in even the CV-22 frames. And, there's always the Navy's predisposition to prefer multi-engine designs in the first place. Another bonus is that, with smaller fan diameters, they can be more easily integrated into the lifting-body/flying wing without requiring it to bulge out too much. It's also easier to conceal multiple smaller ducts instead of one larger one, or both can be fed from one large duct instead.

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.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:07 am

drones are in their early stage, like when jet fighters first came in. Some models back then had 5 year life in service but were developed in just a few years. There will be a lot of lessons learned.
 
tommy1808
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:08 pm

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.

Best regards
Thomas
This Singature is a safe space......
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:23 pm

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.

Best regards
Thomas


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/
 
Ozair
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:00 pm

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.

Best regards
Thomas


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/

It is definitely the F404, defence news got the engine right and the aircraft wrong in their initial write up that I posted.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:01 am

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.
 
Ozair
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Re: Naval refueling drones

Mon Apr 16, 2018 2:19 am

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.


Lightning, the 2018 Marine Aviation Plan is available online, and linked by myself here on multiple occasions, that clearly show Marine use of the classic Hornet to 2030, including continued attachment to Carrier Air Wings until at least 2027. The plan for USN Hornets is to give them to the USMC, thereby extending the USMC fleet until that 2030 timeframe. The USMC also expects to pick up some legacy Hornets from other partners who will divest to the F-35.

While I agree that at this time the F404 will not see out the 2020s on carrier decks what you are choosing to ignore is the entire logistical chain than is currently built for that platform. That is a huge reduction in risk for the LM proposal as well as a reduction in starting costs for the platform to bring it into service. If you consider the capability acquisition only then an alternative engine looks good, but looking beyond than narrow mindset brings a continuation of operation of a known and reliable engine for USN operations.

The other side is the F404 will be an orphan just like the other proposed engines, which the USN has never used in a carrier at sea environment. The Boeing proposal at least uses the same engine as the MQ-4C but will obviously be based in very different locations and see very different operating environments. GA’s engine has no USN use at all.

I'm not in favour of any particular candidate as they all bring a different perspective and cost curve to the acquisition but let us at least view these proposals based on the facts.

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