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Stealth Tankers?

Unread postPosted: 03 Jul 2018, 06:16
by geforcerfx
What's your opinion on how they should be approached? Full size 4 engine stealth replacement for the KC-10 or something more MQ-25 like. I wondered if the MQ-25 could have a stealthy boom pod created for it, then it could be tanked at the larger tankers and shuttle fuel up to the F-35's and F-22's closer to the front. I don't think we would need a lot of these, by a few days into the fight we would have most of the major threats to the conventional tankers destroyed or degraded.

Re: Stealth Tankers?

Unread postPosted: 03 Jul 2018, 10:05
by Corsair1963
Well, you need the most bang for the buck or in this case Stealth vs Cost! Personally, I would prefer a purely stealthy design. Something like a B-2 in general shape. Yet, you have to be able to afford it. So, likely we will have to settle for some type of compromise..... :?

Re: Stealth Tankers?

Unread postPosted: 03 Jul 2018, 10:06
by zero-one
I like the MQ-25 approach.
Strategy could be

Large KC-10s will be way outside hostile AO while MQ-25 are just inside.
Once 5th gens reach Hostile airspace they can top off from the MQ-25s before proceeding to their missions.
MQ-25s then run to the KC-10s to refuel.
They'll meet the fighters on their way out of hostile air space.

If you think about it,
MQ-25 is similar to F-35
Large 4 engined Stealth tanker similar to B2

Which one is cheaper to mass produce, maintain, operate, which one is more flexible, deployable specially in short notice, easier to replace if one crashes

Re: Stealth Tankers?

Unread postPosted: 03 Jul 2018, 11:19
by madrat
B-2 is being retired relatively young. It would be an interesting tanker conversion.

Re: Stealth Tankers?

Unread postPosted: 03 Jul 2018, 21:27
by geforcerfx
zero-one wrote:I like the MQ-25 approach.
Strategy could be

Large KC-10s will be way outside hostile AO while MQ-25 are just inside.
Once 5th gens reach Hostile airspace they can top off from the MQ-25s before proceeding to their missions.
MQ-25s then run to the KC-10s to refuel.
They'll meet the fighters on their way out of hostile air space.

If you think about it,
MQ-25 is similar to F-35
Large 4 engined Stealth tanker similar to B2

Which one is cheaper to mass produce, maintain, operate, which one is more flexible, deployable specially in short notice, easier to replace if one crashes


I also like the MQ-25 route as well, operate like the special operations tankers run right now, designed to keep tactical assets close to the front line. Problem is how do we get a boom onto the mq-25? I don't think we can do a boom pod judging by the size of the boom. Only way I see that working is having the F-35A be dual refuel, have both a boom and probe, do the same on PCA. F-22 we will have to come up with something else (stealth EFT's or a conformal solution maybe). The we can use a normal straight off the shelf MQ-25, drops the price for the Navy, allows the air force and navy to refuel each others stealth aircraft up front.

madrat wrote:B-2 is being retired relatively young. It would be an interesting tanker conversion.

B-2's are insanely expensive to operate, I would rather they have a B-21 offshoot with as much commonality with the basic B-21 as possible for cost savings, not to mention the B-21 prob being a 2 engine vs 4 engines design, and having newer less maintenance heavy stealth tech.

Re: Stealth Tankers?

Unread postPosted: 04 Jul 2018, 00:12
by rheonomic
MQ-25 is too small.

Re: Stealth Tankers?

Unread postPosted: 04 Jul 2018, 00:31
by zhangmdev
Wait for the airliner design to evolve into blended body wing.

Re: Stealth Tankers?

Unread postPosted: 04 Jul 2018, 15:17
by count_to_10
It’s almost certainly cheaper to use the same airframe as the B-21.

Re: Stealth Tankers?

Unread postPosted: 05 Jul 2018, 03:29
by Corsair1963
count_to_10 wrote:It’s almost certainly cheaper to use the same airframe as the B-21.



That is a good idea.....

Re: Stealth Tankers?

Unread postPosted: 05 Jul 2018, 07:27
by weasel1962
The USAF needs to study “future-based” tanker options. MCRS-16 only looked at current air tanking inventories based on current scenarios. Notwithstanding the gap in 2 out of 3 scenarios with current inventories (474+79), its not that big a gap. It does not factor potential allied support, the 179 KC-46 which has bigger fuel loads than KC-135, potential UAV tanker, V-22 tanking capabilities or, I’m guessing, even the future increased combat radius of the F-35.

A significant chunk of tanking is taken up by B-52s. Once B-21 kicks in, B1/2 retired and only 76 re-engined B-52Hs, heavy bomber won’t need as much tanking, most of it in safe locations way out of reach of potential aggressors.

At the tactical level, the F-35A will have 800+nm combat radius once F-135 option 3 kicks in. That’s not even taking into account external fuel tanks. Rather than a gas station concept, it would be interesting to see how the MQ-25 tanker works out for the navy.

The last was that the AMC was looking at KC-Y comp for buy of 15 a year from 2024-36 and KC-Z at 9 a year from 2036-48, where the flying wing is being considered (108 units).

The B-21 airframe has some advantages, compared to the MQ-25. It will be significantly larger and can carry a lot more fuel. B-2 carried 167,000 lbs of fuel, not including payload, which is way much closer to a KC-46 than the MQ-25 is. However, the difference between using a bomber airframe vs a dedicated airframe is a lot of wasted/unnecessary space. Hence a redesign would be needed which would probably be as costly as a new design.

Thought the models in recent article below does seem to address the issue a bit more.

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/21 ... conference