Author Topic: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers  (Read 3130 times)

Ayoshi

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Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« on: February 04, 2019, 03:15:06 AM »
From: fas.org

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The idea of refueling aircraft in flight was born nearly 80 years ago, and, within a few decades aviation refueling moved from the age of dare devils and barnstormers to the routine refueling of all types of aircraft, in all conditions, all over the world. In the 1920s when aviators experimented with attempts to snag gasoline containers from propositioned floats with grappling hooks. In 1921, stunt pilot, Wesley May, put on a "refueling" demonstration for a crowd at Long Beach, California. May strapped a gas can to his back and walked out to the wing tip of his Lincoln Standard biplane, stepped onto the wing skid of a Curtis JN-4 and poured five gallons of fuel into the Jenny's tank. This feat was proclaimed the first "air-to-air" refueling.
Although these dare-devil feats were labeled barnstorming gimmicks, military aviators were the ones who recognized the value of air refueling. The basic complaint of aviators during World War I was that they could not stay aloft for more than 20-40 minutes before they had to return to base for refueling. Army Air Service Lieutenant John Richter sought help from Major Hap Arnold, then commander of Rockwell Field in San Diego to test the idea of using the force of gravity. They tested this refueling idea with success. In 1923, he and Lieutenant Lowell Smith flew their DH-4B aircraft aloft for more than 37 hours. They contacted each other fifteen times to receive oil, supplies and 75 gallons of gasoline by means of a fuel hose.

This exchange was followed by others, including a few that ended in tragedy. But, it was a Fokker C-2 trimotor monoplane called the Question Mark and two Douglas C-1 biplanes which demonstrated the value of mid-air refueling. The Question Mark was fitted with additional tanks to receive fuel; the biplanes, dubbed RP #1 and RP #2, were configured with two 150 gallon fuel tanks and a 50 foot hose with a lead weight attached to the end. The hose would be lowered through a trap door in the bottom of the C-1's fuselage. Despite numerous problems, which in themselves are a great story, the refueling was a great success. The Question Mark was kept aloft for more than six days during which time it had received 40 tons of material, including 5,660 gallons of gasoline, 245 gallons of oil, meals, water, batteries and other supplies.

Even with this success, refueling progress was limited. When the US was drawn into World War II, to reach their German targets bombers had to be based in England and the Mediterranean area. With no refueling capability, fighter escorts with limited range had to return to base for refueling. The Luftwaffe waited until the escorts headed for home and then attacked the bombers. On the Pacific front, inadequacies of long-range bombing also became clear. A proposed attack on Tokyo from Hawaii was scrubbed because of lack of refueling crews and equipment. Even though tests during 1943 and 1944 proved successful, the end of the war thwarted further development.

By 1946, when the Strategic Air Command (SAC) was activated at Bolling AFB, planners realized that in order for SAC to fulfill its global mission, in-flight refueling would have to be part of the program. The Air Materiel Command (AMC) contracted with Boeing Airplane Company to study transferring fuel by hose between two B-29s. The process called for the tanker and bomber to fly in formation at just under 200 knots and about 20 feet above and 75 feet behind, with the tanker above, ahead and to the left. A cable called a "contact line" with a 50 pound lead weight on the end trailed from the tanker; the receiving B-29 trailed a cable called the "hauling line" from its refueling receptacle. A grappling hook at the end of the hauling line caught the tanker's contact line during the crossover and a winch in the tanker wound in both lines. The tanker operator then attached the hauling line to the hose, another winch in the receiver aircraft pulled the hose out of the tanker. Once the hose nozzle was in place, it was locked with hydraulic toggles. A "contact made" signal was sent to the tanker and fuel transfer was started.

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2019, 03:21:14 AM »
USAF completes KC-10A modernisation programme

http://defenseph.net/drp/index.php?topic=1601.0

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Boeing KC-46 Tanker Program Completes FAA Certification
https://www.boeing.com/company/about-bca/washington/kc46a-certification-09-06-18.page
September 06, 2018
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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Boeing’s KC-46 tanker program a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), verifying that its refueling and mission avionics systems meet FAA requirements. The milestone marks completion of KC-46 FAA certification.

To receive its STC, Boeing’s team completed a series of lab, ground and flight tests, which commenced in 2015. As part of the required flight testing, the team validated the KC-46’s boom and drogue aerial refueling systems met FAA certification criteria.


The KC-46 prepares to refuel a KC-46. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has granted the KC-46 tanker program a Supplemental Type Certificate. John Parker photo

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Boeing KC-46 program wins $2.9 billion order for more aerial refueling tankers
https://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2018/09/10/boeing-kc-46-pegasus-program-usaf-order-fourth-lot.html
Sep 10, 2018, 6:19pm EDT
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The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $2.9 billion contract for 18 more KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tankers in a deal that includes parts, support equipment, spare engines and wing refueling pod kits.

Boeing announced the latest order on Monday, saying it's now on contract to deliver 52 of the tankers to the U.S. Air Force after months of delays and cost overruns.

The latest order is good news for Puget Sound region aerospace suppliers who build and sell components for the tanker, which is built on a specially modified Boeing 767 airframe and upgraded with military equipment, systems and more powerful engines.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2019, 01:37:51 AM by Ayoshi »

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2019, 03:27:04 AM »
https://www.airbus.com/defence/a330mrtt.html

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The most capable new-generation tanker, with unique multi-role capabilities and combat-proven now. Based on the successful A330-200 airliner, the A330 MRTT is The Benchmark for new-generation multi-role tankers.

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France orders three more Airbus A330 MRTT tankers
https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2018/12/France-orders-three-more-Airbus-A330-MRTT-tankers.html
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Madrid, 13 December 2018 – Airbus Defence and Space has received a firm order from the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) for a further three A330 MRTT Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft.

The aircraft, known as Phénix in French service, constitute the third and final tranche of the multi-year contract for 12 A330 MRTTs signed by the French Ministry of Defence in 2014.

< snipped >

In French service the A330 MRTT will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and equipped with a combination of the Airbus Refuelling Boom System and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods. The aircraft can be configured in a variety of layouts carrying up to 272 passengers as well as medevac arrangements including the French MORPHEE intensive care module carrying up to ten patients as well as 88 passengers.

The combat-proven A330 MRTT has been ordered by 12 nations which have now placed firm orders for 60 aircraft, of which 34 have been delivered.


Photo taken from airbus.com

« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 03:32:07 AM by Ayoshi »

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2019, 03:32:40 AM »
New Hampshire Air Guard to receive new Air Force tanker | Airforce Times


The New Hampshire Air National Guard will receive 12 of the Air Force's new aerial refueling tanker, the KC-46A Pegasus. Pictured: The Air Force's second KC-46 Pegasus touches down at McConnell AFB in Kansas. (Jeff Martin/Staff)

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Republic of Korea Air Force receives first Airbus A330 MRTT
https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2019/01/republic-of-korea-air-force-receives-first-airbus-a330-mrtt.html

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Busan, 30 January 2019 – The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has taken delivery of its first Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.

The new-generation A330 MRTT extends the endurance and range of the ROKAF’s fighter aircraft, and provides the service with strategic transport capability for passengers and freight.

In South Korean service the A330 MRTT will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, be equipped with the Airbus Refuelling Boom System, and can be configured in a variety of layouts to carry passengers and freight or for medevac purposes.

South Korea becomes the seventh member of the worldwide family of A330 MRTT operators and is one of 12 nations to have ordered the aircraft. This latest delivery brings the total in-service fleet to 35.


Photo taken from airbus.com

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2019, 01:15:03 AM »
See also: C-130 Hercules/Super Hercules

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From: fas.org
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KC-130

The KC-130 is a multi-role, multi-mission tactical tanker/transport which provides the support required by Marine Air Ground Task Forces. This versatile asset provides in-flight refueling to both tactical aircraft and helicopters as well as rapid ground refueling when required. Additional tasks performed are aerial delivery of troops and cargo, emergency resupply into unimproved landing zones within the objective or battle area, airborne Direct Air Support Center, emergency medevac, tactical insertion of combat troops and equipment, evacuation missions, and support as required of special operations capable Marine Air Ground Task Forces.

The KC-130 is equipped with a removable 3600 gallon (136.26 hectoliter) stainless steel fuel tank that is carried inside the cargo compartment providing additional fuel when required. The two wing-mounted hose and drogue refueling pods each transfer up to 300 gallons per minute (1135.5 liters per minute) to two aircraft simultaneously allowing for rapid cycle times of multiple-receiver aircraft formations (a typical tanker formation of four aircraft in less than 30 minutes). Some KC-130s are also equipped with defensive electronic and infrared countermeasures systems. Development is currently under way for the incorporation of interior/exterior night vision lighting, night vision goggle heads-up displays, global positioning system, and jam-resistant radios.

The C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, which is still in production, first flew 42 years ago and has been delivered to more than 60 countries. The C-130 operates throughout the military services fulfilling a wide range of operational missions in both peace and war situations. Basic and specialized versions perform a diversity of roles, including airlift support, Distant Early Warning Line and Arctic Ice re-supply, aero-medical missions, aerial spray missions, fire fighting duties for the U.S. Forest Service, and natural disaster relief missions. The C-130E is an extended range development of the C-130B, with large under-wing fuel tanks. A wing modification to correct fatigue and corrosion on C-130Es has extended the life of the aircraft well into the next century.

The basic C-130H is generally similar to the C-130E model but has updated T56-A-T5 turboprops, a redesigned outer wing, updated avionics, and other minor improvements. While continuing to upgrade through modification, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has budgeted to resume fleet modernization through acquisition of the C-130J version. This new model features a two-crew member flight system, Skip Allison AE2100D3 engines, all-composite Dowty R391 propellers, digital avionics and mission computers, enhanced performance, and improved reliability and maintainability.
The new KC-130J, with its increase in speed, range, improved air-to-air refueling system, night systems, and survivability enhancements, will provide the MAGTF commander with a state-of-the art, multimission, tactical aerial refueler/transport well into the 21st century. The KC-130J aircraft is a medium sized transport and tanker with capability for intra-theater and inter-theater airlift and aerial refueling operations. The KC-130J is capable of in-flight refueling of both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. The fuel system is a common cross-ship manifold that serves as a refueling system, a fuel supply crossfeed, a ground refueling system, and a fuel jettisoning system. It also retains the capability for worldwide delivery of combat troops, personnel, and cargo by airdrops or airland to austere, bare-base sites. The KC-130J is capable of day, night, and adverse weather operations.

The KC-130J provides rapid logistic support to operating forces. It can be configured to provide transportation of personnel or cargo. Delivery of cargo may be accomplished by parachute, low level fly-by ground extraction, or landing. As a tactical transport, the KC-130J can carry 92 ground troops or 64 paratroopers and equipment. It can be configured as a medical evacuation platform capable of carrying 74-litter patients plus attendants. The KC-130J can land and takeoff on short runways and can be used on primitive landing strips in advanced base areas. The KC-130J is also capable of providing mission support in emergency evacuation of personnel and key equipment, advanced party reconnaissance, and special warfare operations.

From: airforce-technology.com
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The KC-130J is a multi-role tanker aircraft designed and developed by Lockheed Martin to replace the KC-130F/R/T aircraft. The KC-130J is in operation with the US Navy, the US Marine Corps (USMC), the Italian Air Force, the Kuwait Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force.

Primary missions of the KC-130J tactical aircraft include air-to-air refuelling, tactical transportation of passengers and cargo, aerial delivery, ground refuelling and emergency re-supply.

The first KC-130J completed its maiden flight in June 2000 and achieved initial operational capability in February 2005. A fleet of 47 KC-130J Hercules aircraft are being operated by the US Navy and the USMC. The total requirement of these two operators is 104 aircraft.


Photo taken from fas.org
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Photo taken from lockheedmartin.com
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 01:29:23 AM by Ayoshi »

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2019, 01:20:55 AM »
See also: Airbus A400M Atlas

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Airbus’ A400M tanker simultaneously refuels two F/A-18 jet fighters | airforce-technology - 18 February 2015
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During the four flights, the aircraft performed 74 contacts and dispensed 27.2t of fuel to the Spanish Air Force F/1-18s at altitudes of 20,000ft-33,000ft, and airspeeds of 180k-300k, which is the preferred refuelling envelope for fighters.

The A400 is designed to be a dual-role transport and tanker aircraft, and is claimed to be the most capable tactical tanker in the market. It has a basic fuel capacity of 50.8t, which can be increased by the use of extra cargo hold tanks.

The aircraft is already installed with full provisions for after-action review (AAR) operations and only requires installation of the optional air-to-air refuelling kit to turn into a tanker.

Airbus trials 'buddy-buddy' refuelling for A400M | IHS Jane's 360 - 14 November 2016
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Two flights were flown involving a pair of A400Ms, during which 50 contacts were made between the centreline hose and drum unit (HDU) of the tanker, and the probe of the receiver. This HDU station would typically be used to refuel large aircraft, with the two wing-top pods being used for fast jets and helicopters.


A pair of A400M aircraft made 50 contracts during two refuelling test flights flown in mid-November. Source: Airbus DS

French Air Force A400M airlifter concludes aerial refuelling test campaign with Rafale | Air Recognition - 08 June 2018
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Aerial Refuelling with the A400M is possible through two lateral points via a refueling pod attached to the aircraft – only for fighter aircraft - or by a fuselage-integrated refueling unit (HDU - Hose Drum Unit) - for transport aircraft and fighters. An upcoming version of specific gondola will help refuel the helicopters. After a flight test campaign conducted by the DGA with the support of the French Air Force, the A400M has just reached a new milestone by demonstrating its ability to refuel the Rafale with its pods.

During these tests, refueling of the Rafale with the A400M in all flight conditions (altitude, speed) including in so-called aircraft degraded modes (simulated failure of an engine and flight controls), has been evaluated. The tests were conducted day and night, including night vision binoculars, in several Rafale configurations (light aircraft, center-back and high drag).


A FAF A400M airlifter refuelling a Rafale B fighter jet (Credit: DGA/DICOD/French Armed Forces Ministry)


Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2019, 01:21:21 AM »
US Air Force eyes KC-46A aerial refuelling boom redesign | Janes - 29 January 2019
Quote
Key Points
* The US Air Force is planning to redesign the KC-46A boom to better accommodate lighter aircraft
* The USAF agreed to pay for this upgrade as Boeing met its international standard


The USAF will redesign the problematic boom on the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling tanker to better accommodate lighter aircraft such as the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. Source: Boeing

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2019, 04:20:28 AM »
Altus AFB gets its first KC-46A tanker | Shephard Media - 14th February 2019 - 12:30 GMT
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This is the fifth tanker delivered to the USAF in total. The first four multi-role KC-46 tankers were delivered to McConnell AFB in Wichita, Kansas in January.

< snipped >

Boeing is currently on contract for 52 of an expected 179 tankers for the air force.

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2019, 11:33:44 PM »
Tinker AFB readies for KC-46 maintenance | Shephard Media - 15th February 2019 - 16:30 GMT
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Construction is underway on the 158-acre, 14-dock maintenance campus at Tinker Air Force Base as part of work to prepare for maintenance of the incoming KC-46 aircraft, the US Air Force announced on 7 February.

The expansion of the taxiway and other infrastructure on the campus is 95% complete. A single-bay hangar is expected to be complete in May, and a further two-bay hangar will be ready in December.

The first aircraft is expected to arrive at Tinker for maintenance in June 2020. The multi-mission KC-46 aircraft will be used as an aerial refuelling and airlift aircraft.

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2019, 05:46:13 AM »
https://www.janes.com/article/87551/south-korea-receives-second-a330-mrtt-aircraft

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South Korea receives second A330 MRTT aircraft
29 March 2019

The aircraft is expected to become operational with the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) within a month, the MND said, adding that the two remaining platforms are expected to be delivered in November and December this year. The RoKAF officially introduced its first A330 on 30 January.

The tanker-transport aircraft, which is known as the KC-330 Cygnus in RoKAF service, is expected to extend the reach of the RoKAF’s strike aircraft into North Korea and improve strategic operations beyond the Korean Peninsula.

After examining rival proposals from Boeing, Israel Aerospace Industries(IAI), and Airbus, South Korea selected the A330 MRTT in 2015 in a deal valued at about KRW1.4 trillion (USD1.2 billion). Boeing had submitted its KC-46A Pegasus platform, while IAI proposed its B767-300 Multi Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT).

According to South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the A330 MRTT beat its rivals because of its superior performance (endurance, fuel capacity, personnel, and cargo capacity), its pricing, and the fact that it is already in service with several air forces around the world, as Jane’s reported at the time.


South Korea’s MND announced on 28 March that the RoKAF had received the second of four A330-200 MRTTs, which are known as KC-330 Cygnus in RoKAF service. Source: South Korean MND


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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2019, 07:46:18 AM »
US Air Force eyes KC-46A aerial refuelling boom redesign | Janes - 29 January 2019
Quote
Key Points
* The US Air Force is planning to redesign the KC-46A boom to better accommodate lighter aircraft
* The USAF agreed to pay for this upgrade as Boeing met its international standard


The USAF will redesign the problematic boom on the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling tanker to better accommodate lighter aircraft such as the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. Source: Boeing

    A classic case, if it's not broke, don't fix it.

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2019, 03:38:54 PM »
https://www.janes.com/article/89850/luftwaffe-tests-a400m-as-aerial-tanker-for-foreign-deployments

Luftwaffe tests A400M as aerial tanker for foreign deployments
12 July 2019


The A400M has been certified to refuel German Tornados and German and Spanish Eurofighters. (Bundeswehr/Stefan Petersen)

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2019, 04:30:01 AM »
https://www.janes.com/article/91399/boeing-begins-building-first-kc-46a-for-japan

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Boeing begins building first KC-46A for Japan
18 September 2019

The loading of a 25 m-long wing spar into the company’s 767 production facility at Everett in Washington state marked a major milestone for the programme’s first, and to date only, export customer.

Boeing was awarded a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) contract for one KC-46A aircraft and logistics services for Japan in December 2017. The US Air Force (USAF) exercised an option for Japan’s second aircraft in December 2018.

Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2020, 01:51:07 AM »
First world tour of US Air Force KC-46A Pegasus refueling and strategic military transport aircraft | Air Recognition - 02 January 2020 11:30
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The KC-46 is currently conducting operational testing and evaluation as it prepares to serve as the next generation air refueling platform for the Air Force. The global mission was an important milestone, offering an opportunity for allies and partners to see first-hand one of the Air Force’s newest weapon systems, and hear the unique perspectives of those who operate and maintain the KC-46.

< snipped >

The KC-46A represents the beginning of a new era in air-to-air refueling capability for the joint force. The aircraft has been in development since Feb. 24, 2011, and its initial flight occurred in Dec. 2014. The current contract, with options, provides Air Mobility Command an inventory of 179 KC-46A tankers. The first KC-46A was delivered to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas on Jan. 25, 2019. The aircraft is will soon undergo operational test and evaluation on the way to initial operating capability.

The KC-46A is the first phase in recapitalizing the U.S. Air Force's aging tanker fleet. With greater refueling, cargo and aeromedical evacuation capabilities compared to the KC-135, the KC-46A will provide next generation aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and partner-nation receivers.

The KC-46A can accommodate a mixed load of passengers, aeromedical evacuation and cargo capabilities. Two high-bypass turbofans power the KC-46A to takeoff at gross weights up to 415,000 pounds. Depending on fuel storage configuration, the aircraft can carry a palletized load of up to 65,000 pounds of cargo. The KC-46A can carry up to 18 463L cargo pallets. Seat tracks and the onboard cargo handling system make it possible to simultaneously carry palletized cargo and passenger seats in a variety of combinations. The KC-46A is also equipped with a number of self-protection, defensive and communication features making it more survivable in a contested environment.


The KC-46A Pegasus represents the beginning of a new era in aerial refueling, providing vital capability to the U.S. Air Force and joint partners. (Picture source U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt Michael Jackson)


Ayoshi

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Re: Aerial refuelling aircraft / Aerial tankers
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2020, 01:38:17 AM »
https://www.janes.com/article/93997/pentagon-considering-leasing-aerial-refuelling-tankers-to-mitigate-kc-46-delays

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Pentagon considering leasing aerial refuelling tankers to mitigate KC-46 delays
29 January 2020

The Pentagon is considering leasing aerial refuelling tankers to mitigate Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker delivery delays to the US Air Force (USAF), according to the head of US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM).

< snipped >

An advantage of leasing tanker capability, he said, would be immediately relieving tanker pressure as the USAF continues to retire Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers and McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extenders. But Gen Lyons said a disadvantage would be that these leased tankers could not be used in contested or combat environments.


A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus KC-30 (A330 MRTT) refuels a Lockheed Martin F-35A. Airbus and Lockheed Martin are jointly exploring opportunities to offer the A330 MRTT as a leased tanker capability. Source: US Air Force