Author Topic: A2A refueling options for the FA-50  (Read 19162 times)

adroth

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A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« on: December 05, 2016, 01:02:00 AM »
The FA-50 has "short legs". Its range is limited. Airforce-technology.com cites a range of 1,851 km for the pure trainer version of this aircraft: the T-50 . While the Fighting Eagleís actual range is classified, the fact that itís external dimensions are virtually identical to the T-50, it stands to reason that itís range would be no better, and could only be worse given the range-sapping external weapons pylons and the weight of additional equipment of the FA-50. In contrast, the smaller of the multi-role fighters cited above ó the F-16 ó has range of 3,221 km.

To put these figures into a counter-China context, Pag-asa island is approximately 852.77 kilometers from Metro Manila ó a one-way flight thatís already almost half the aircraftís range . This leaves the FA-50 little time to remain on station over Pag-asa before it needs to return to an airfield to refuel. It also has no in-flight refueling capability, therefore to reach, and loiter, over Philippine garrisons in the West Philippine Sea, it would need to sacrifice its precious few under-wing pylons to carrying fuel tanks, much as it did during its ferry flight from South Korea to the Philippines. Fuel tanks in lieu of weapons.

To improve the FA-50PH's usefulness in this role, the addition of air-to-air refueling capability would be worth investigating. There are two basic options. Both, however, require significant modification that will require assistance:

  • Probe drogue
  • Flying boom

Lets discuss both here.

adroth

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2016, 01:06:19 AM »
Probe-and-drogue

KAI has conducted studies about adding this capability to the basic T-50 platform. These have largely been a theoretical capability. It is unclear what systems would have to be removed from the FA-50PH -- if any -- to accommodate the additional equipment. The following photos and diagrams are c/o KAI.

The key advantage of this option is interoperability with many of our allies, which prefer this method for its simplicity, as well as the US Navy. Although the C-130Ts in PAF service currently lack this capability, all it would require would be the re-addition of the equipment that these "T" versions originally had. The disadvantage is that it is a purely theoretical capability at this point and would require development assistance from KAI and any other air force that would need it.









« Last Edit: December 06, 2016, 11:17:28 AM by adroth »

adroth

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2016, 01:07:34 AM »
Boom and receptacle / Flying-boom

The flying boom option was a requirement for participation in the USAF T-X program. The following photograph from Popular Mechanics shows the receptacle behind the cockpit.

The principal advantage of this option is that it is in active development c/o of the USAF T-X program. It's disadvantage is that there are very few users of this method -- namely the USAF which needed a faster refueling capability than what the probe-drogue method could provide.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a21437/lockheed-t-50a-training-aircraft/

« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 01:18:28 AM by adroth »

adroth

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2016, 01:29:18 AM »
Refueling pods -- where probes from the receiving aircraft are contained in underwing pods -- would be a happy middle for the probe-drogue solution and represents less development time. However, it would still require the sacrifice of a single weapon station fighting with a pod attached would arguably be a disadvantageous and would require abandonment of the pod prior to a merge.

From: https://airrefuelingarchive.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/sargent-fletcher-art-s-pod-aerial-refueling-tank.jpg

« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 01:35:50 AM by adroth »

horge

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2016, 03:29:48 AM »
To improve the FA-50PH's usefulness in this role, the addition of air-to-air refueling capability would be worth investigating. There are two basic options. Both, however, require significant modification that will require assistance:

  • Probe drogue
  • Flying boom

Lets discuss both here.

Probe drogue

 :)

I believe it's properly probe and drogue, but I suppose an intervening
slash would serve as well (probe/drogue): the 'probe' being the recipient
aircraft's extended fuel receptacle, and 'drogue' being the shuttlecock-ish
array around the fuel nozzle of the supplier aircraft. The drogue literally
provides drag, which helps pay out (extend) the fuel hose and stabilize
and orient the outlet nozzle's position during AAR/IFR.


As discussed in the old thread (timawa), flying boom is not an economical
option for PAF, even in a context of inter-operation with allies: Only USAF
uses it, and the most likely ally to provide AAR/IFR services would provide
it in the form of USN or USMC assets, which speak probe and drogue.

The problem with ART/S, also discussed previously, was one of safety:

At the time, the known drop-tank clearance for the FA-50 was for Aero 1C
of the 150 gallon persuasion, which have a diameter (not counting fins,
and depending on the fins, if any, one may not need to) of a bit less than
.55 meters and more importantly a length of only 4.5 meters.

ART/S has a 25+% larger diameter of nearly .69 meters (not counting fins,
again) and more importantly, a length of 7.5+ meters(!), which potentially
creates landing-clearance issues. Granted, most of the extra length hangs
forward of the wing, and maybe someone can say if clearance is an issue.

It's not that technically-difficult to plumb a fixed refueling probe in FA-50PH,
similar to what IAI did for Chile's old F-5E, but such modification will likely
violate applicable KAI warranties on the new PAF birds.

Assuming a refueling probe could be provided for the FA-50PH, there were
three options explored in the old thread, for PAF acquisition of the supply
end of any AAR/IFR capability (necessarily of probe and drogue format):


http://users.skynet.be/exotic.planes/pictures/spain/
C-130. Plenty of speculation surrounded the plan to acquire C-130T some
time back, but turns out USMC removed the AAR/IFR kit prior. Using C-130
as an AAR/IFR platform could however be as simple as hanging a 31-301
store from a wet wing station, and drop tanks elsewhere, and the platform
can have 1320 US gals of fuel on offer, more than enough to top up a flight
of FA-50 after takeoff. Absence of a large fuel bladder in the hold leaves a
Hercules free to function as a standard transport.


http://www.strangemilitary.com
A-4 Kahu. Yes, I know, but at the time of the old thread, timawan memory
of the Kiwi angle was still short of ancient, and Skyhawk did offer proven
legacy as a fuel truck. Again, a 31-301 buddy store and extra drop tanks
would have to be fitted. The problem here is that the Kahu's are gone, in
several senses of the word. Note in the above photo, an F-16 (a Sufa FT?)
features a "probe" mod to accept a "drogue" fuel outlet.



http://www.crviewer.com/targets/060215/
S3 Viking. Again, back then, we were all a bit more carefree, lol. There
was also, back then, an ongoing search for a new MPA/ASW air-platform,
and however fanciful an option, the S3's were newly out on the block for
potential disposal. Again, a 31-301 buddy store and extra drop tanks
would accrue.

then of course, there's the (mere) possibility of using...
FA-50PH as a 31-301 platform. The two inboard wing stations are both
plumbed wet, and a topped up 31-301 weighs about 1290kg, so if one
underloads by, say, 10 (ish) gallons, ...and if landing clearance is not an
issue (mind you, a 31-301 store is a full 2.5 meters shorter than ART/S,
but has a belly hanging a quarter-meter lower than a Geagle-standard
Aero 1C) then FA-50PH might possibly be its own refuel buddy, akin to
USN Bugs: if we can imagine Geagle somehow (Jesus help us) hauling a
31-301 store, then imagining it can sling an FPU-8(x) from the opposite
inboard wet is easy dreaming.

Note that the 31-301 isn't interchangeable between USN platforms: the
buddy store for the Bug, the Viking, etc all have differences in internals,
hence customization for FA-50PH would be a given, assuming the fit is
even possible/safe.




In any case...
Where "bringing something to the table" for allies counts, and beyond
the self-interest of a Philippine TD context, any of the above platforms,
if made to work, can provide refueling support to transiting allied air.







« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 07:57:17 AM by horge »

gemini1

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2016, 04:11:44 AM »
Instead of drop tanks that takes up precious hardpoint spaces, why not a conformal fuel tank? KAI had already designed one, for the USAF TX program a few years back. Would it be cost effective for KAI/AFP to have the probe installed, instead of the flying boom?


horge

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2016, 04:22:29 AM »
Instead of drop tanks that takes up precious hardpoint spaces, why not a conformal fuel tank?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you?
CFT alone does not address the lack of a fuel inlet for AAR/IFR.
Air-to-air refueling is, after all, the topic of this thread, specifically for FA-50.

KAI had already designed one, for the USAF TX program a few years back. Would it be cost effective for KAI/AFP to have the probe installed, instead of the flying boom?

As already referenced in this thread's first few posts, it's important to note
that those primarily bore fruit for USAF's T-X requirement, thus necessarily
in "flying-boom" context. There's no clear profit to KAI, investing further in a
probe-and-drogue mod, (which is what PH needs), since only USAF is ready
to pony up for AAR/IFR modding, and because the other big Golden-Eagle
operator, ROKAF, already has its KF-16 and F-15K to handle longer-range
servicings.

So PH has to hard-plumb one in (as IAI did for lots of aircraft, including F-16,
albeit with a non-retractable probe) via third-party and eat the loss of all
applicable KAI warranties, or wait for KAI to offer the conversion, or else go
for some hypothetical modification of Cobham/Sargent-Fletcher's ART/s...
which by the way seems to have gone nowhere since 2009, and has since
been overtaken by LockMart's own CARTS (see below):


http://www.f-16.net/f-16-news-article4163.html

There remains, however:
1. No conformal fuel tank (CFT) mod offered for FA-50PH
2. No conformal fuel tank (CFT) mod with refuel probe offered for FA-50PH

As nearly all the applicable technology lies in US and UK control (w/ notable
exception of IMOD-SIBAT), nothing can happen wrt AAR/IFR in PAF without
the blessing of US.gov, and there is basis for a suspicion that FA-50PH will
have to retain its short legs* and its lack of teeth, at least until PAF, DND and
yes, Malacanang, evidence more maturity as operators of combat jets (and
also as befits a treaty ally).


*MGEN Deuk Hwan, K. (ROKAF DAPA) 2006, "T-50 Application in an Interdependent
Warfighting Environment"
p.5 provides a very coarse graphic suggesting
a Geagle operating radius, apparently from Yecheon AB out to Jeju, of about
380km, with a CAS or light DCA loadout. 

« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 07:43:04 AM by horge »

LionFlyer

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2016, 07:25:49 AM »

Note in the above photo, an F-16 (a Sufa FT?)
features a "probe" mod to accept a "drogue" fuel outlet.



IAI Lavi being refuelled by the IAI A-4 Skyhawk "Ayit".

Conversion is probably done by IAI Bedek. They are the go-to-guys for aftermarket AAR capabilities. (Mirages family (Cheetah, Pantera), Skyhawks)

horge

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2016, 07:43:41 AM »
IAI Lavi being refuelled by the IAI A-4 Skyhawk "Ayit".

Conversion is probably done by IAI Bedek. They are the go-to-guys for aftermarket AAR capabilities. (Mirages family (Cheetah, Pantera), Skyhawks)

Thanks, LF.

mayk

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2016, 09:23:54 AM »
But giving the FA-50PH more range would give more justification that it is "the" PAF's MRF.

gemini1

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2016, 09:41:43 AM »
Maybe I'm misunderstanding you?
CFT alone does not address the lack of a fuel inlet for AAR/IFR.
Air-to-air refueling is, after all, the topic of this thread, specifically for FA-50.

You did get what I meant on your succeeding post sir H, so no worries.  8)

You really think KAI will still require US blessings for an accessory(?) like a CFT for the AFP?
I was wondering, since it was mentioned on other threads, that when IMI made offers of their missile systems for the FA50, there was no notable objections coming from the US?


As for KAIs' warranty on the FA50, wasn't it just 2 years from aircraft delivery date? Chances are, if the PAF does decide to retro its birds for any type of AAR, via 3rd party or even through KAI, the warranty period would probably be over, by the time DND/PAF sources funds for it.     

If KAI has designed a flying boom fitted CFT for the T50 TX program, and with no assurance that they'll bag the contract. Would it not make sense to also have a design fitted with probe/drogue, which they can sell to other 50s user?

 

horge

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2016, 10:38:23 AM »
But giving the FA-50PH more range would give more justification that it is "the" PAF's MRF.

The quotation marks and bolding also belong around the term MRF.  :P

It can only be considered a "MRF" via leveraged semantics: the sort that, in the
old 2008 Jet Pool, semantically considered F-5A/B to be an MRF. Think about it:
F-5A (and by some transitivity, F-5E) was the armed variant of an advanced jet
trainer (the T-38), in the same way that the FA-50PH is the armed variant of the
advanced jet trainer T-50.

The mere fact of FA-50PH (allegedly) retaining LIFT avionics means some combat
capability, in terms of the space, weight and power allowances for it, has been
compromised in favor of training benefits.

In terms of speed, combat loadout, range with combat loadout, avionics,
etc., FA-50PH is just grossly inferior to even the lightest of true LWF jets (Gripen,
Falcon, Viper), which in turn suffer in comparison to fuller MRF (the "M" in "MRF"
lending weight to heavier-payload attack, and not just to DCA/OCA), like USN's
Rhino. There was an old thread on timawa that made this point with full citations.
Maybe I'll reiterate/repost the comparison tables from it, one day.

You really think KAI will still require US blessings for an accessory(?) like a CFT for the AFP?

For CFT tech, maybe not... but then CFT's are borderline irrelevant.
It's more about a refueling probe, whether retractable or (more likely) fixed.
Look at the supply-side of the refueling proposition, too: if PAF is to operate an
aerial refueling platform, it will have to look chiefly to US or UK vendors for the
technology, with the notable exception of...

Quote
I was wondering, since it was mentioned on other threads, that when IMI made offers of their missile systems for the FA50, there was no notable objections coming from the US?

That's why I notable-exception'ed IMOD SIBAT earlier, with all of the various
Israeli vendors it stoplights. Israel has a funny way of flouting US tech-license
restrictions, lol.

Quote
As for KAIs' warranty on the FA50, wasn't it just 2 years from aircraft delivery date? Chances are, if the PAF does decide to retro its birds for any type of AAR, via 3rd party or even through KAI, the warranty period would probably be over, by the time DND/PAF sources funds for it.

2 years is what I heard a long time ago. I don't have the specific terms actually
inked. I will also note DND's record on "fitted for but not with" options. If an item
wasn't delivered initially with X widget, don't hold your breath for an upgrade to
install it.

Quote
If KAI has designed a flying boom fitted CFT for the T50 TX program, and with no assurance that they'll bag the contract. Would it not make sense to also have a design fitted with probe/drogue, which they can sell to other 50s user?

The money dangled by T-X more than justifies investment in a flying boom mod.
What "other user" is there to promise revenue for a probe and drogue mod??
TNI-AU isn't asking for it. I've already said ROKAF isn't either.
Only the Philippines actually needs it, and the Philippines didn't even ask upfront.

While FA-50PH is superior to a non-existent M-346 LCA, I'd always thought it was
a special kind of retarded, to go for a platform that had intrinsically-short legs and
ZERO aerial refueling capability ... and then try to "sell" it to the Filipino public as
a proper MRF for TD applications.


« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 02:27:14 PM by horge »

mayk

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2016, 05:59:04 PM »
But giving the FA-50PH more range would give more justification that it is "the" PAF's MRF.

The quotation marks and bolding also belong around the term MRF.  :P

Which is where my objection to Mr. Evans' post in facebook comes from. But I'm no expert, and according to him the FA-50PH is more MRF than LIFT.

Mr. Evans also said in the comment section:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/781170378635478?view=permalink&id=1143575255728320

Quote
Essentially, the FA-50PH is a light MRF which can carry out training duties. As you've rightfully explained, there are political motives for calling it a trainer, or LIFT, when in reality, the FA-50 version is more a MRF than a LIFT.

I'm thinking that the FA-50PH would not just be interim but defacto MRF of the PAF for the next decade. The PAF must have hedged with the procurement of the FA-50, that even with the horizons and flight plan 2028, any plan can be changed by a different administration, its better to have a light MRF than be stuck with a pure LIFT config for the next decade.

horge

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2016, 08:01:12 PM »
Okay mayk, what you quoted above has officially triggered me.  ;D

Here's why it's misleading to slippery-slope argue FA-50 is an "MRF".

Keeping in mind that USN doctrinally limits Bug/Superbug CAP radius
and plays coy wrt attack radius; and also that Saab goes quite the
opposite direction with its slanted/silly parameters and rosy optimism,
lets compare some A2A loadouts and corresponding combat radii:

FA-50
OCA loadout      2x AIM-9, 3x EFT (300/150/300 gal)
OCA radius      ~537km (intercept without loiter/ACM)

JAS39 NG
DCA loadout      4x AIM-120, 2x AIM-9, 3x EFT (450/290/450 gal)
DCA radius      463km (with 50-minute CAP)

F-16C
DCA loadout      2x AIM-120, 2x AIM-9, 3x EFT (370/300/370 gal)
DCA radius      370km (with 130-minute CAP)

FA-18C
DCA loadout      4x AIM-120, 2x AIM-9, 3x EFT (FPU-8/A, 330 gal each)
DCA radius      >277km (with 105-minute CAP)

FA-18E
DCA loadout      4x AIM-120, 2x AIM-9, 5x EFT (FPU-11, 480 gal each)
DCA radius      >277km (with 135-minute CAP)


Pathetic, yes? But let's not stop there and go on with humiliating FA-50 by
comparing loadouts for moving mud, with corresponding combat radii:

FA-50
attack loadout      2x Mk.82, 2x AIM-9, 3x EFT (300/150/300)
attack radius      ~390km

JAS39 NG
attack loadout      2x Mk.83, 2x AIM-9, 3x EFT (450/290/450 gal)
attack radius      <650km (*for JAS39C)

F-16C
attack loadout       2x Mk.84, 2x AIM-9, 3x EFT (370/300/370 gal)
attack radius      1370km

FA-18C
attack loadout      2x Mk.84, 2x AIM-120, 2x AIM-9, 3x EFT (FPU-8/A, 330 gal each)
attack radius      >926km

FA-18E
attack loadout     2x Mk.84, 2x AIM-120, 2x AIM-9, 5x EFT (FPU-11, 480 gal each)
attack radius      >>926++km



It's just simply a wide gulf between FA-50PH and proper MRF.
It's even worse when you have to allot for the weight/drag of
targeting and ECM/ECCM pods, as the serious muscle of true
F/A MRF really leaves FA-50 in/under the dirt.

If you want to talk about credible OCA/DCA in a context where
opfor could be PLAAF Su-30 in quantity, you want credible A2A
muscle and teeth:


A pair of SRAAM heaters just doesn't cut it, on that playing field.

Flip it around to focus on operating radius:
If true MRF were to sling only 2xheaters plus EFT, the FA-50's
disadvantage in range when compared to said MRF, would be
exposed as frightening or embarrassing, or both.

Same goes for having true MRF hump only a pair of dinky 500lb
irons plus EFT... which ties back into the thread-topic, and the
critical lack of a refueling probe.



FA-50 sources
http://img.bemil.chosun.com/nbrd/files/BEMIL105/upload/2009/02/BEMIL105_1515_0.jpg
Strike radius is eyeballed from a graphic in Deuk-Hwan (2006:5)
OCA combat radius is my rough guesstimate based on powerplant SFC and loads

JAS39 NG sources
http://www.jsfnieuws.nl/wp-content/DutchAirForceAssociation_Gripen_2009.pdf
http://www.jsfnieuws.nl/wp-content/NLGRIPENPRESSBRIEFAug08.pdf
http://gripen4canada.blogspot.com/
https://defenseissues.net/2013/02/16/saab-gripen-analysis/

F-16C sources
https://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/f-16.htm

FA-18C sources
https://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/f-18.htm

FA-18E sources
https://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/f-18.htm
« Last Edit: December 11, 2016, 04:25:25 AM by horge »

LionFlyer

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Re: A2A refueling options for the FA-50
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2016, 11:06:51 PM »

Putting definitions aside, if sufficient numbers (+36) is acquired, the question of whether a MRF or not is rather muddled, especially if plans are made to prepare forward bases of operations to overcome known range limitations. If it was to meet basic air sovereignty needs and armed correctly (with a full set of BVR, SRAAMS), it will probably suffice.

Should PAF go for numbers rather than quality? A prospective MRF purchase is pretty dim right now and even IF it was to go ahead, it likely be in small numbers (<12), given the upfront capital cost.