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[*] posted on 9-6-2018 at 10:09 PM


Conclusive Tests for the A400M's Ability to Refuel Rafale

(Source: Directorate-General of Armaments, DGA; issued June 8, 2018)

(Issued in French; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)


The Airbus A400M airlifter has successfully completed in-flight refueling trials with the Rafale fighter using underwing pods. DGA expects to issue clearance “very shortly,” allowing the French Air Force to work up on this new capability. (DGA photo)

The A400M, a tactical airlift aircraft with strategic range, is capable of refueling several types of aircraft, including fighter aircraft.

Refueling is possible through two lateral points via a refueling pod attached under the wing (for fighters) or by a fuselage-mounted HDU (Hose Drum Unit) refueling unit for transport aircraft and fighters. An forthcoming specific version of the underwing nacelle will allow refueling of helicopters.

After a flight test campaign conducted by the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) with the support of the French Air Force, the A400M has just passed a new milestone by demonstrating its ability to refuel the Rafale fighter using its underwing nacelles.

During these tests, the Rafale was refueled by the A400M throughout its flight envelope (at various altitudes and speeds) including in so-called degraded aircraft modes of the aircraft: simulated failure of an engine and flight controls.

The tests were conducted by day and night, including with night vision goggles, in several Rafale configurations (light aircraft, rear-heavy attitude with high drag generation).

DGA’s In-Flight Trials unit conducted, with the support of the Air Force’s Military Air Expertise Center (CEAM), these tests that will allow DGA, acting as technical authority for State-owned aircraft, to very shortly authorize the Rafale to be refueled on A400M.

The Air Force, for its part, is working to determine the conditions for putting of this new capacity into service in an operational context, by setting up the means of its implementation (procedures, technical support, training, etc.). The A400M will then be able to offer a theater refueling capacity.

Further flight refueling campaigns are planned for 2019, such as the twin refueling of the Mirage 2000 via the nacelles, and of other transport aircraft through the centerline HDU refueling point.

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[*] posted on 9-6-2018 at 10:52 PM


Incidentally, the French are coming to Pitch Black this year. It's been more than a decade since they were last here for Pitch Black.

The reason I mention it in this thread is that they are deploying from metropolitan France with 3 x Rafales, a KC-135 tanker, an A310 passenger bird for the ground crews and an A400 transport to carry the spares.

The KC-135 can't make the long haul with all those birds from the Middle East to Darwin, so they are getting a fighter drag from the RAAF, with a KC-30 dragging the Rafales from the UAE to Singapore then Darwin.



MELBOURNE, Australia ― France will be deploying a detachment of combat aircraft to the Indo-Pacific region for a major air exercise in Australia and for additional interactions with Asian air forces, as France seeks to increase its presence in the region.

According to an announcement by the French Air Force, three Dassault Rafale fighters will leave France for Darwin in northern Australia in late July via stopovers in Al-Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.

The Rafales will be joined by a French Air Force Boeing C-135FR Stratotanker, an Airbus A400M strategic airlifter and an Airbus A310 passenger transport aircraft for the deployment. From the UAE, a single Royal Australian Air Force Airbus KC-30A multirole tanker transport will accompany the French aircraft for the journey to Australia.

In Australia, the French will participate in Exercise Pitch Black, a biannual large-scale multinational air-combat exercise involving approximately 80 aircraft and personnel from 16 countries that will take place during three weeks in August.

Following Pitch Black, the French contingent will visit Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and then India before the Rafales return to Al-Dhafra between Aug. 19 and Sept. 4. The French deployment, code-named PEGASE 2018, will involve 90 French airmen and commandos along with 40 tons of technical and support equipment.

The PEGASE 2018 deployment plan. (French Air Force) The PEGASE 2018 deployment plan. (French Air Force)
The PEGASE 2018 deployment is the largest French Air Force deployment to the region since six Dassault Mirage 2000s were deployed to the region in 2004, where they also took part in an earlier iteration of Exercise Pitch Black.

According to the French Air Force, the objectives of this deployment are to hone the ability of the French Air Force to deploy its air power globally, strengthen France’s presence in the strategic Indo-Pacific region and deepen relations with key regional countries.

The deployment will also serve as an opportunity to showcase the French defense and aerospace industry, with Indonesia and Malaysia being seen as like export opportunities for the Rafale and India looking for more fighters, having already purchased 36 of the French jets.




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[*] posted on 27-6-2018 at 11:27 AM


KC-46 Tanker Inches Toward Delivery Date

Jun 27, 2018

Jen DiMascio | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The U.S. Air Force and Boeing may have agreed on an October 2018 delivery date for the first KC-46A aerial refueling tanker, but the service is still trying to resolve deficiencies and testing software fixes.

Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force’s top military acquisition official, says issues could come up in testing, but he is hoping to speed up delivery: “We believe [the schedule] is aggressive but achievable.”

The agreement on a delivery date represents the next step in a saga two decades long to replace the service’s Eisenhower-era KC-135 tankers.

- Tests of Remote Vision System are ongoing
- Boeing has nearly three dozen aircraft in various stages of production

Just getting to the agreement has been typical of this program. It was more difficult than anyone thought possible for what might have been a simple retrofit: adding a refueling capability to the long-produced Boeing 767 commercial aircraft.

The U.S. government started looking for new tankers shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York. But it was not until 2011 that Boeing landed the eventual contract award for $3.5 billion for 18 tankers.

And now Boeing and its customer, the Air Force, finally have agreed on a path forward.

“As a result of months of collaboration, the Air Force and Boeing KC-46A teams have reached an agreed joint program schedule to get to the first 18 aircraft deliveries. This includes the expectation that the first KC-46A aircraft acceptance and delivery will occur in October 2018, with the remaining 17 aircraft delivered by April 2019,” Air Force Undersecretary Matthew Donovan says. “While the KC-46A flight-test program is nearly complete, significant work remains. The Air Force is looking forward to KC-46A first delivery and will continue to work with Boeing on opportunities to expedite the program.”

The feeling is mutual. Boeing now has more than three dozen KC-46s in the production flow, from nearly complete to the early stages of being built, and is eager to begin deliveries.

“We’re also very excited to start getting the aircraft in their hands,” says Leanne Caret, the president of Boeing Defense, Space and Security.


After nearly two decades, the Air Force appears months away from receiving KC-46A tankers to replace its aging fleet of KC-135s. Credit: Boeing

The pace of deliveries of about three per month is consistent with what the Air Force said it wanted in April.

But getting to this moment of agreement has not been easy.

Boeing already has incurred more than $3 billion in pre-tax charges on the program, which was awarded as a fixed-price contract to shield the government from cost overruns. However, it did not help with schedule delays. According to the Government Accountability Office, the original development contract mandated that Boeing would deliver the 18 aircraft by August 2017.

In addition to scuffling over the schedule, Boeing and the Air Force have been at odds over many technical issues, most recently about the need to fix the Remote Vision System sensor that enables the fuel-delivery boom to be operated from the tanker cockpit. The Air Force was concerned the boom could accidentally scrape the receiver aircraft during certain flight conditions; Boeing said its system met the service’s requirements. As of April, Boeing had agreed to upgrade the software in time to deliver the first aircraft.

The work is ongoing. Boeing and the KC-46A program office are still trying to find ways to resolve deficiencies, and the Air Force is testing Boeing’s software fix for the Remote Vision System.

“Boeing and the KC-46A program office agreed to incorporate additional test points to assess military utility of the current design,” the Air Force states in an email. “Laboratory testing of Boeing’s hardware and software fixes to the Centerline Drogue System also continues. Flight-test verification of the fixes is now forecasted for September 2018.”

And though Bunch says he would like to streamline the process and receive the aircraft before October, “It will all depend on how we get through the remainder of the test program.”

Asked to reflect on what could be learned from the program, Caret says, “I think that there are clearly lessons on both sides.” She notes that such complicated programs require that all parties speak the same language.

“I do think though that when you have a tough program like this, it’s easy for relationships to get strained over time—especially one that goes on for as many years as this has,” Caret says. “That’s not atypical for Boeing or any other contractor, they’re just hard. . . . We all had a shared destiny, which was getting this capability in the hands of the warfighter, and when you clear all the other mud away and you focus on that—the line of sight to getting through—any resolution becomes a lot easier.”
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[*] posted on 28-6-2018 at 09:26 AM


A400M nations qualify aircraft for air-to-air refuelling

Nicholas Fiorenza, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

27 June 2018

France has completed A400M-to-Rafale refuelling trials. Source: DGA

European air forces procuring the A400M are qualifying the transport aircraft for air-to-air refuelling.

The Luftwaffe reported on 25 June that an A400M of its Lufttransportgeschwader (Air Transport Squadron) 62 has conducted aerial refuelling of Spanish Air Force EF-18s to demonstrate the German aircraft’s capabilities to do so.

The German A400M recently flew from its base at Wunstorf to Zaragoza, from where it took off the next day to dispense 14 tonnes of fuel to a total of 10 EF-18s through air-to-air refuelling pods mounted on its wings tips. After a second day of testing, the German A400M’s aerial refuelling capability was proven, according to the Luftwaffe.

Earlier in June, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, reported that its flight trials unit had conducted a campaign demonstrating a French Air Force A400M’s capability to refuel Rafale combat aircraft.

This included tests simulating a failure of the A400M’s engine and flight controls, in the dark with night-vision goggles, and with the Rafale in various configurations.

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[*] posted on 10-7-2018 at 05:27 PM


Anatomy Of The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus

Jul 10, 2018

Aviation Week & Space Technology

The U.S. Air Force will receive the first of its long-awaited Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tankers in October 2018 and another 17 by April 2019. Although deliveries were delayed by protracted development issues, the Air Force remains on track to take up to 179 KC-46As by 2027. Designed to replace the aging KC-135, the multirole KC-46A is capable of air refueling using both boom and hose-and-drogue systems. The aircraft also can carry cargo, passengers and patients.

Refueling System


Credit: Boeing Concept

R1 | Fuel tanks with 212,000-lb. capacity configured with onboard inert-gas-generating system
R2 | Additional lower-lobe fuel tanks, one forward and three aft, for 60,000 lb. added fuel offload
R3 | Aerial refueling operator/instructor stations with cross controls for redundancy/training
R4 | Air-to-air refueling receptacle capable of accepting 1,200 gal./min.
R5 | Removable Cobham wing aerial-refueling pod capable of 400-gal./min. delivery
R6 |Fly-by-wire refueling boom with 1,200-gal./min. delivery

Transport Capacity

T1 | Up to 18 back-to-back 463L cargo pallets or 11 loaded along centerline; 9g cargo barrier
T2 | Standard six foldaway litters with provision for up to 24 along centerline plus seating and medical support for up to 30 ambulatory patients
T3 | Palletized seating for up to 108 passengers in current USAF configuration
T4 | Large storage cabinets forward of aft bulkhead
T5 | Air transportable galley/lavatory module, movable to various deck locations
T6 | Main deck cargo door (134 X 105 in.)
T7 | Nose- gear-strut APU control unit and crew entrance hatch for quick-reaction starts
T8 | Aircrew compartment with galley, three bunks and eight airline seats

Structure & Changes


Credit: Boeing Concept

S1 | Revised wing leading-edge slat configuration
S2 | 767-300 wing with center-section fuel
S3 | 767-200 fuselage with modified Section 41 for aerial-refueling receptacle
S4 | Strengthened 767-300 landing gear and beam support fittings
S5 | Reinforced fuselage-body frame chords
S6 | 767-400 empennage and Section 48

Communications & Countermeasures

C1 |Satellite communications, and Link 16, VHF/UHF, VOR, ADF and anti-jam GPS antennas
C2 | Flight-deck armor for crew protection against small-arms fire; electromagnetic-pulse shielding including impregnated windshield; Flight deck compatible with night-vision goggles and chemical/biological/nuclear protection suits
C3 | Raytheon ALR-69A(V) digital radar warning receiver in antennas on nose, wingtips and tail
C4 | Nose-mounted infrared lighting for covert night operations
C5 | 787-style flight deck with Rockwell Collins 15.1-in. displays and Tactical Situational Awareness System
C6 | Aft ALR-69A(V) radar warning receiver
C7 | Integrated high-frequency antenna

Power & Propulsion

P1 | Pratt & Whitney PW4062 turbofans rated at 62,000 lb. thrust
P2 | Honeywell 331-400 auxiliary power unit (APU) with first FAA transport-certified non-halon fire suppression

Beneath the KC-46A


Credit: Boeing Concept

Refueling System

1. Combined fixed housing for centerline drogue and refueling boom.
2. High-resolution stereoscopic camera system.
3. Combined housing for 185-deg. panoramic camera system and elements of Northrop Grumman AAQ-24LAIRCM directed infrared countermeasures system.
4. Centerline for guiding-pilot roll/azimuth positioning.
5. LED pilot director lights. Left for fore and aft guidance right for up-down.
6. Rudder for directional control of fly-by-wire refueling boom.
7. Lighting for centerline drogue system.
8. Centerline drogue system tunnel.
9. Control panel and door for single-point ground refueling point; second door on right side.
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[*] posted on 11-7-2018 at 12:53 PM


FRANKENTANKER LIVES!



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[*] posted on 13-7-2018 at 08:32 PM


Airbus Performs World’s First Automatic Air-to-Air Refuelling Contact with Large Aircraft Receiver

(Source: Airbus; issued July 12, 2018)


After demonstrating automatic air-to-air refueling of a fighter, Airbus has now done it with a large aircraft receiver, with a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A acting as receiver from an Airbus-owned A310 tanker. (Airbus photo)

MADRID --- Airbus Defence and Space has followed its earlier achievement in demonstrating Automatic Air-to-Air (A3R) refuelling of a fighter with another world-first – the same operation performed with a large receiver aircraft.

In a joint operation with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), which is collaborating with Airbus in development of this pioneering technology, Airbus’ A310 company development tanker performed seven automatic contacts with a RAAF KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport, also made by Airbus.

The system requires no additional equipment on the receiver and is intended to reduce refuelling boom operator workload, improve safety, and optimise the rate of air-to-air refuelling (AAR) in operational conditions to maximise aerial superiority. Airbus has begun work towards introducing the system on the current production A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT).

During initial approach of the receiver, boom control is performed by the tanker’s Air Refuelling Operator (ARO) as usual. Innovative passive techniques such as image processing are then used to determine the receiver’s refuelling receptacle position and when the automated system is activated, a fully automated flight control system flies and maintains the boom aligned with the receiver’s receptacle.

The telescopic beam inside the boom can be controlled in a range of ways including: manually by the ARO; a relative distance-keeping mode; or full auto-mode to perform the contact.

In the 20 June flight off the southern Spanish coast, the A310 tanker performed the scheduled seven contacts over a two-hour test period.

David Piatti, who again acted as Airbus Test ARO, or “boomer”, on the A310, said: “It was extremely impressive to see how accurately the A3R system tracks the receiver. It can be very useful to be able to refuel another tanker or transport, for example to extend its deployment range or to avoid taking fuel back to base, but it is also a challenging operation and this system has the potential to reduce workload and the risk involved.”

The trial was conducted in conjunction with Test Pilots and Flight Test Engineers from the RAAF’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU).

Squadron Leader Lawry Benier, Executive Officer for ARDU, said the RAAF were assisting Airbus Defence & Space on the development of A3R and other technologies to increase the utility of the KC-30A within a battlespace.

“It’s very encouraging to come to Spain and see the progress that’s been made with A3R, and be able to witness it firsthand refuelling our KC-30A,” Squadron Leader Benier said.

“Refuelling large receivers is a role RAAF has conducted extensively on operations and exercises, allowing us to extend the reach and responsiveness of our air mobility fleet, as well as keep surveillance aircraft in the air for longer.”

The Airbus Defence and Space A330 MRTT is the only new generation strategic tanker/transport aircraft combat-proven and available today. The large 111 tonnes/ 245,000 lb basic fuel capacity of the successful A330-200 airliner, from which it is derived, enables the A330 MRTT to excel in air-to-air refuelling missions without the need for any additional fuel tank.

The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven air-to-air refuelling systems including an advanced Airbus Defence and Space Aerial Refuelling Boom System, and/or a pair of under-wing hose and drogue pods, and/or a Fuselage Refuelling Unit.

Thanks to its true wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry up to 300 troops, or a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC). To-date, a total of 57 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by 11 nations (Australia, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom), with two (Australia and Saudi Arabia) having already placed repeat orders.

The photos show the first automatic contact between the A310 MRTT demonstrator and the KC-30A, and an emulation of what the image processing system “sees”.

A video can be viewed and downloaded here: https://www.airbus.com/search.footage.html?tags=corporate-to...

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2017 it generated revenues of €67 billion and employed a workforce of around 129,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

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[*] posted on 14-7-2018 at 01:57 AM


Also handy for a UAV AAR eventually...



Paddywhackery not included.
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[*] posted on 14-7-2018 at 05:08 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Mupp  
Also handy for a UAV AAR eventually...


Both tanking to and tanking from UAVs




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[*] posted on 14-7-2018 at 08:13 PM


Quote: Originally posted by unicorn  
FRANKENTANKER LIVES!


Yea. I was not really aware of this or I forgot ... Not much COTS left in the actual aircraft structure in this low risk COTS procurement!

Quote:

Structure & Changes Credit: Boeing Concept
S1 | Revised wing leading-edge slat configuration
S2 | 767-300 wing with center-section fuel
S3 | 767-200 fuselage with modified Section 41 for aerial-refueling receptacle
S4 | Strengthened 767-300 landing gear and beam support fittings
S5 | Reinforced fuselage-body frame chords
S6 | 767-400 empennage and Section 48
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[*] posted on 18-7-2018 at 10:11 PM


FARNBOROUGH: New helicopter refuelling trials to boost A400M

18 July, 2018 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Craig Hoyle Farnborough

Airbus Defence & Space will launch flight tests in the first quarter of next year to prove the ability of its A400M tactical transport to refuel helicopters in flight.

Previous tests involving an Airbus Helicopters H225M exposed stability issues for the rotorcraft while it was operating near the Atlas, with the 90ft length of its refuelling hose also bringing it too close to the airlifter's tail.

Successful windtunnel testing has already been conducted using an updated hose design produced by Cobham. Housed within the same under-wing refuelling pod, this has an increased length of 120ft, with the use of a thinner hose to result in a slower rate of fuel flow.

The earlier problems with clearing the A400M for helicopter refuelling contributed to decisions by France and Germany to each order a small number of Lockheed Martin KC-130J tankers.

"The next test will be done with a pod and aircraft in the first quarter of 2019," says head of military aircraft Fernando Alonso.

The activity will involve either an H225M or a Leonardo Helicopters AW101.

Meanwhile, Airbus and UK personnel recently advanced air-to-air refuelling trials in Spain involving a "Grizzly" test aircraft and a Royal Air Force A330 Voyager, with the Atlas receiving fuel "over a wide range of altitudes and air speeds".

Elsewhere, the A400M programme is also advancing on a permanent solution for a propeller gearbox (PGB) issue which has affected its Europrop International TP400-D6 engine.

Alonso says an interim truncated plug fix for the PGB has already been installed on all in-service aircraft, and that a permanent, "Pack 2" update developed by EPI and Avio has been certified following extended bench testing.

He says discussions are ongoing to determine when the update will be introduced to new-build aircraft, and that the interim solution is performing well in service.
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[*] posted on 19-7-2018 at 10:22 PM


Farnborough 2018: Singapore expands digital technology partnerships

Jon Grevatt, Bangkok - IHS Jane's Defence Industry

18 July 2018


Airbus and Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency will look to ‘3D-print’ spare parts for Singapore’s new Airbus A330-200 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft. Source: Airbus

Rolls-Royce and Airbus have announced collaborative projects with Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), with both programmes looking to optimise digital technologies in enhancing the maintenance of Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) aircraft.

On 18 July at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom, Rolls-Royce said its new accord with the DSTA will boost the support of engines on board RSAF aircraft while Airbus said its implementation agreement with DSTA will support the RSAF’s new fleet of Airbus A330-200 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.

Rolls-Royce said its memorandum of understanding with the DSTA will focus on using data analytics and digital twin systems, which integrate artificial intelligence, machine learning, and software analytics, in improving the availability and performance of aero-engines fitted onto RSAF aircraft.

“Rolls-Royce supports an extensive and diverse fleet of aircraft, which provides a data source to dive deeper and generate insights on aircraft engine performance for defence,” said DSTA Chief Executive Tan Peng Yam. “Partnering Rolls-Royce to co-develop data-driven digital solutions will boost DSTA’s efforts in enhancing the efficiency of aircraft maintenance and operations.

Airbus said under the terms of its implementation agreement with the DSTA, which follows the signing of a preliminary digital-technology accord in late June, the two sides will develop capability in the 3D printing of spare parts for the A330 MRTT aircraft. In addition, the two sides will also expand co-operation on data analytics.

Head of military aircraft services at Airbus Defence and Space, Stephan Miegel, said, “Following this first agreement on 3D printing, we have further agreed to collaborate on data analytics for predictive maintenance.”

Singapore ordered six A330 MRTT aircraft in 2014. In its statement, Airbus said the first of these aircraft will be delivered to Singapore in the coming months.

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[*] posted on 31-7-2018 at 03:31 PM


IAI CEO Comes Out Swinging Over KC-46, US FMF Money

It began in low voices behind closed doors but some days ago the battle for US military aid turned to open war. The first skirmish is being fought over the Israeli Air Force's (IAF) advanced aerial refueling aircraft meant to replace its aging converted Boeing 707s.

By Arie Egozi

on July 30, 2018 at 1:43 PM


KC-46 refuels F-35; artists rendering

It began in low voices behind closed doors but some days ago the battle for US military aid turned to open war.

The first skirmish is being fought over the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) advanced aerial refueling aircraft meant to replace its aging converted Boeing 707s.

Until some months ago there were two options on the table: the Boeing KC-46A and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) converted Boeing 767s. IAI was confident that its offer would be evaluated seriously, especially in light of the delays to the KC-46. But this confidence was destroyed when IAI learned that the IAF is locked on buying the KC-46A.

IAI was shocked, but the they initially kept their reaction behind closed doors. This changed when I met with Joseph Weiss, president and CEO of IAI in his office. Weiss spelled out all his anger and frustration when i asked him if the company is in the competition for the new aerial refueling aircraft

“We are not. We have not been given a chance to compete in spite of the fact that we can supply the best cost-effective solution. It is very strange that the Israeli air force ignores our proposal. The Ministry of Defense has not even begun a dialogue with us on our proposal. That is wrong, very wrong.

We only ask for a fair chance to compete”

Weiss will soon end his office as president and CEO of Israel’s largest aerospace industry, and it was obvious that he felt more free to go public.

IAI has been offering converted 767 for special missions, including aerial refueling, for years. In 2010, the Bedek division of IAI delivered a converted B767-200ER (Extended Range) to the Colombian Air Force (CAF). The aircraft was converted to a Multi-Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) configuration for the Colombian government and the end-user, the Colombian Air Force.

According to IAI, its 767 conversion offers four possible options for the air refueling capability: flying boom; hose & drogue; hose & drogue and three points combi-hose & drogue plus flying boom, and Fly-By-Wire (FBW) Boom, Remote Aerial Refueling Operator (RARO) station and upgraded avionics.

Sources that asked not to be identified say that the KC-46 A is the optimal solution for the IAF.

This frontal attack by Weiss reflects a wider concern among the Israeli defense and aerospace companies. These companies say that the diminishing percent of the FMF grants that can be exchanged to Israeli Shekels , will hit them in the worst spot. “The fact that U.S $ will be available and less local currency, will force the Ministry of Defense to buy almost only U.S-made systems. This is the direct effect but not a less crucial one is the decreasing R&D budget that this situation will cause,” says Weiss.

Israel has been for many years the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. In the last 10 years the U.S foreign military funding (FMF) to Israel totaled $31 billion.

With the new FMF Memorandum of Understanding , the sum the government will have to buy from Israeli companies will decrease gradually and vanish in 2024.

The companies fear that without that money, the Ministry of Defense buy directly from U.S companies. That will harm the local defense industries and force them to lay off employees, slash R&D budgets and further reduce their ability to compete with the American manufacturer.

Some observers, including opponents of U.S. aid to Israel, argue that U.S. assistance to Israel supports Israeli arms purchases without providing sufficient scrutiny of controversial Israeli military actions.

While Weiss targets the tanker program, other Israeli companies have started to get ready to cope with the new situation.

Some, like Elbit Systems, have very active U.S subsidiaries.

Others like IAI have US subsidiaries but, so far, they have not proven their ability to compensate for the new reality.

A few months ago IAI said that it is changing its activity pattern in the U.S market to better deal with the changing conditions and especially with the new Foreign Military Financing (FMF) agreement with the U.S. “We are reorganizing our activities in the U.S to be ready for the changes in the market,” Weiss told me.

IAI currently operates in the U.S through its local companies, IAI North America, Stark Aerospace and ELTA U.S. “We are in the process of building a new strategy for our operations in the U.S. It will be based on proxy companies that will have U.S boards and will act separately from our other activities,” Weiss said.

He added that IAI is now evaluating some opportunities to purchase local American companies that could serve as “proxy” companies to allow IAI to increase its sales in the U.S market.

Now with the aerial refueling deal slipping out of IAI’s hands, the other Israeli companies are beginning to understand just how tough the new reality is going to be.

Efforts to get comment from the Defense Ministry and IAF met with standard responses: “The process is still on. No official decision has been made.”
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[*] posted on 1-8-2018 at 03:26 PM


Anyone who is surprised that US FMS and financial Defence aid is going to be tied to buying US gear under a Trump Administration is obviously delusional and hasn't been keeping up with current events.



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[*] posted on 1-8-2018 at 05:05 PM


The Israeli manufacturers are more than aware of it.................it's a MAJOR concern for the Defence Industry, ESPECIALLY with the range and quantity of new production imminent including, but not limited to:

- Production of EITAN 8x8 APC/IFV
- MERKAVA 5 MBT development and production
- Main production of ATMOS 2000 8x8 SPG
- Ditto DAVID's SLING missile system
- Ditto ARROW 3
- Various UAV's and UCAV's
- And a mass of on-going R&D that the US Companies will be desperate to lead or participate in.

The obvious spin-off could be nothing is left as a genuine Israeli-only production capability..........
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[*] posted on 1-8-2018 at 06:01 PM


I guess that's the catch when they're so heavily reliant on a non-Israeli only defence budget.



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[*] posted on 14-9-2018 at 08:35 PM


Europe urged to provide more aerial refuelling capacity

Brooks Tigner, Brussels - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

13 September 2018


Domecq has warned of a continued European tanker shortage if more MRTTs (pictured) and A400M refuelling kits are not purchased. Source: Dutch MoD

More nations need to join Europe’s Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) programme and to buy many more refuelling kits for the A400M if the region is to avoid a 30% gap in its air-to-air refuelling needs in the coming years, European military planners and defence policy officials said.

“Slowly we are catching up with the United States, but we are not there yet,” Jorge Domecq, chief executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA), told an aerial refuelling conference organised by his agency in Brussels on 12 September. “We will be 40 tankers short in 2025 if we don’t all step up our efforts.”

Currently, five nations have signed up to the EDA-initiated MRTT programme to cover the operational cost with specific numbers of annual flying hours: Belgium (1,000), Germany (5,500), Luxembourg (200), Netherlands (2,000), and Norway (100).

Their collective commitment rests on an order of eight A330 MRTTs, with an option to buy three more that depends on more countries joining the programme. The fleet will be collectively owned and based at Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and Cologne-Wahn, Germany.

According to sources at the conference, three countries – the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Spain – are considering the MRTT, although nobody is placing any firm bets that they will join the programme.

“There is lobbying within the Czech [Ministry of Defence] – there’s a letter on the deputy minister’s desk arguing to join the MRTT – but money is tight and there are competing pet projects of the other services,” one participant told Jane’s at the conference. “If they sign up, it would probably be for a modest number of [operational] hours.”

As for Spain, “it is sitting on the fence – desiring the MRTT’s cost advantages [since the operating cost for all falls with each additional nation], but wanting the capability kept on its territory,” one EU official said.

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[*] posted on 21-9-2018 at 08:48 PM


Skunk Works Talks Stealthy Aircraft Option For KC-Z

Sep 19, 2018

Steve Trimble | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report


MQ-25A concept: Lockheed Martin

A pure aerial tanker with a stealthy profile and the ability to refuel combat aircraft within defended airspace has emerged as a second option developed by Lockheed Martin’s advanced development arm for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-Z requirement.

The latest Skunk Works concept is likened to Lockheed’s losing proposal for the US Navy’s MQ-25 tanker program, but with two major differences.

“Imagine MQ-25 with that [improved stealthy] signature ability and perhaps longer legs,” says Jack O’Banion, vice president of strategy at Skunk Works.

In Lockheed’s view, a Boeing KC-46 flying just outside defended airspace could refuel multiple KC-Z aircraft, which would then penetrate into a combat area, using its reduced radar signature to survive. The Lockheed KC-Z also would use an unconventional refueling approach that preserves the aircraft’s stealthy profile, but O’Banion declines to elaborate.

“There are other ways of transferring the fuel where the receiver hardware is essentially the same, but what happens between two airplanes is where we’re looking at changing things up,” O’Banion says.

The new concept is Lockheed’s second option developed for KC-Z. Two years ago the company unveiled a hybrid wing body designed for both refueling and air-drop missions. As the Air Force settles on the requirements for KC-Z, Lockheed could offer one or the other.

“We wanted to make sure that we were materially communicating to [Air Mobility Command] that full range of possibilities,” O’Banion says. “And then as AMC considers which track they want to head down they’ve got a position that maximizes their level of understanding.”

The latest concept was developed in response to Skunk Works’ analysis of new threats. Some analysts consider new Chinese weapons, such as the PL-XX missile, as focused on shooting down command-and-control aircraft and tankers at long range, making it impossible for more stealthy aircraft, such as fighters and bombers, to perform their mission.

“They’re trying to find out where are there integrating nodes in our force structure that they can attack, whether it’s the overhead [satellites], or AWACS or J-Stars or tankers,” O’Banion says. “One of the easiest ways to defeat that strategy is dispersement, so if I can disperse the fuel … it’s harder to defeat the ability to fuel my assets and stay in the fight.”
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[*] posted on 22-9-2018 at 06:07 PM


France wants to buy Airbus tankers sooner

By: Pierre Tran   10 hours ago


An Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft refuels a fighter jet. France renewed a pledge to speed up by two years delivery of 12 Airbus A330 jets for the French Air Force by 2023.(Airbus)

PARIS — France renewed a pledge to speed up by two years delivery of 12 Airbus A330 multirole transport tanker jets for the French Air Force by 2023.

“At the ministerial investment committee, the Direction Générale de l’Armement received the mission to accelerate the delivery of the A330 MRTT Phénix,” the armed forces ministry said in a Sept. 20 statement.

A 12-strong fleet of the A330 MRTT by 2023 brings forward delivery of the air tankers by two years, the ministry said. A further three units will be ordered to bring the total fleet to 15 in the following years, the ministry added.

No dates were given for a contract for the A330 MRTT or the value of the planned order. No date was set for a further batch of three more units.

That boost for inflight refuelling was among the equipment modernization measures included in the 2019-2025 military budget law, formally signed by French president Emmanuel Macron just before an official garden party on July 13.

The French Air Force has long lobbied for renewing the aerial capability, as the present aging tanker fleet is a key element in the airborne nuclear deterrent. French air operations in allied operations in the sub-Saharan Sahel region and the Middle East rely heavily on U.S. air tankers.

The A330 MRTT will replace a mixed fleet of C-135FR and KC-135R tankers — some of which are close to 60 years old — and A310 and A340 strategic troop and transport aircraft. The A330 MRTT is a military conversion of the Airbus A330 airliner.
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[*] posted on 28-9-2018 at 08:27 PM


France receives first Phénix tanker-transport aircraft

Gareth Jennings, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

28 September 2018

The French Air Force (Armée de l'Air: AdlA) has received into service the first of an expected 12 Airbus Defence and Space (DS) A330-200 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.

One of the nine Phénix aircraft currently under contract arrived at its future-home station of Airbase 125 at Istres-Le Tubé on 27 September. The remaining eight aircraft and a further three that are expected to be ordered are all due to be delivered to the AdlA by 2023.

Set to replace the AdlA's Boeing KC-135R and C-135FR tankers, as well as the Airbus A340 and A310 passenger transports, the Phénix is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and equipped with a combination of the Airbus Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.

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[*] posted on 17-10-2018 at 09:56 AM


Phénix Takes Flight

(Source: French Air Force; issued Oct 12, 2018)


The French Air Force’s first Airbus A330 tanker takes off to begin its operational trials, due to be completed in late 2019 when it is due to attain its IOC. France plans to order 12, with another three to follow after 2025. (FR AF photo)

Fifty-five years after the arrival of the first Boeing C135 tanker aircraft, the A330 Phoenix on Friday, October 12, took off from Istres air base on its first flight after having officially joined the Air Force.

Piloted by a crew of the MRTT team of the Military Aviation Expertise Center (CEAM), the new tanker aircraft made a first flight of flight refueling trial with the aircraft of the 2/2 "Côte-d'Or" Calibration Squadron.

This first flight marks the beginning of the experimental and test campaign that will allow the aircraft to be reach initial operational capability within a year. Integrated into the 31st EARTS (strategic air refueling squadron), the trial team will perform many test flights to qualify the aircraft for all the missions it will carry out. The first phase will be dedicated to the air refueling missions of the various Air Force aircraft and those of our allies, in multiple configurations, by day or night and in all weathers.

Once the refueling capabilities are validated, the aircraft’s trials will be expanded to include strategic cargo and personnel transport and medical evacuation. The Phénix, so named by the Air Force as a symbol of the aircraft capable of "reborning" any aircraft it refuels in flight, will ultimately replace the Air Force’s entire fleet of strategic aircraft (C135, A310 and A340) which are now used for long-range missions.

Operated by the strategic air forces, the fleet of 12 aircraft (15 after 2025) will be stationed at the 125 Istres air base, whose role as our "logistics hub" will be increased tenfold.

Given that the A330 Phoenix is one and a half times larger than the C135, the entire infrastructure of Air Base 125 has had to be reviewed. A first maintenance hangar, a parking lot and new air traffic routes were thus created at the air base for the reception and implementation of the aircraft.

This site, the largest currently in terms of investments for the Ministry of the Armed Forces, will continue to accommodate 12 aircraft by 2023. In addition to two other maintenance hangars, Istres will have a new terminal for personnel and logistics transport missions which are currently carried out by the 1/60 "Estérel" transport squadron from Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle airport.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 28-11-2018 at 09:33 AM


China Develops Y-20 Variants to Perform Aerial Refueling Missions: Military Insider

(Source: Global Times; published Nov 26, 2018)


China is developing a tanker variant of its new Y-20 large transport aircraft as its twin-engined HU-6s do not have enough fuel capacity and its Russian Il-78MDs are too few to meet its growing requirements. (China MoD photo)

China is modifying its domestically made strategic transport aircraft Y-20 to take on new missions like aerial refueling, a military insider said.

A tanker variant for the Y-20 is now under development, the expert who is familiar with the matter, told the Global Times on Sunday on the condition of anonymity.

There were a series of reports over the past week, which claimed to have found a prototype for an aerial refueling version of the Y-20 in a commercial satellite photo in Yanliang Airport in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

China is in urgent need of an aerial refueling tanker that has a larger fuel capacity than the HU-6, a tanker developed from the H-6 bomber, for its air force to become a strategic one, said the expert, noting that aerial refueling enables a fighter jet to fly much farther without landing and reach more distant targets.

The J-20, China's most advanced stealth fighter jet, is able to receive aerial refueling, China Central Television (CCTV) reported earlier this month.

Although China also operates a few Russian II-78 tankers, which are much larger than the HU-6, Russia was reluctant to sell more at a reasonable price, leading China to decide to develop its own large tanker, the expert said.

China's Y-20, a domestically made 200 ton-class large multi-purpose transport aircraft, is of similar size to the Russian Il-76 transport aircraft, on which the Il-78 is based, he said.

The aircraft began services in the People's Liberation Army Air Force in 2016, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The fact that the Y-20 is domestically built means that Chinese developers can make alterations relatively easy and makes it a platform to develop more variants, the expert said.

China is experienced in making variants from transport aircraft in the past, reports said.

China modified the Y-9 transport aircraft into an early warning plane, patrol aircraft and anti-submarine aircraft, according to a CCTV report on Saturday.

The expert noted that it is also possible that China could make more Y-20 variants, noting that an early warning aircraft might be the most feasible one given the Y-20's size and endurance.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 7-12-2018 at 10:24 PM


Japan signs for second KC-46A tanker

Gareth Jennings, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

07 December 2018


A pair of Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft parked at Paine Field near Seattle. Japan is the first export customer, having now signed for two aircraft. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Japan has signed for the second of four Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft it plans to field from 2020.

A Foreign Military Sale (FMS) contract for a single aircraft for Japan was announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 6 December, following the award of the first aircraft in December 2017. While that first award included support and was valued at USD279 million, this latest contract is for the aircraft only and is valued at USD159 million.

The first KC-46A is due to be delivered to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) in 2020, with this second aircraft to follow by 30 June 2021. However, with delays to Boeing's programme to deliver up to 179 KC-46As to the US Air Force (USAF), this schedule might be pushed back.

Japan selected the KC-46A under its KC-X aerial refuelling competition in October 2015. The JASDF is looking to acquire four new tankers to augment its current fleet of four Boeing KC-767J platforms, with the total value of the procurement expected to be USD1.9 billion.

The KC-46A is a 767-2C provisioned freighter with a 767-400 flight deck that features the Rockwell Collins large-format displays of the 787 airliner. Boeing has highlighted the almost tactical nature of its aircraft, with it being deployed 'closer to the fight' to better support expeditionary operations; being fitted with ballistic armour in the cockpit, passenger cabin, and fuel tanks; electro-magnetic pulse hardening; and nuclear, biological, and chemical protection.

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[*] posted on 8-12-2018 at 02:28 PM


Lockheed Tie-Up Gives Airbus Tanker A Second Chance at U.S. Market

Dec 7, 2018 Lee Hudson, Steve Trimble and Tony Osborne | Aviation Week & Space Technology

A New Approach for U.S. Tanker Work

Nearly eight years after Boeing snatched away the lucrative U.S. Air Force KC-X tanker contract from Airbus, the European airframer is eyeing another chance to offer its internationally successful A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) to the U.S. customer.

By teaming up with Lockheed Martin, Airbus believes an urgent Pentagon demand for contractor-supplied aerial refueling—driven in part by Boeing’s KC-46 delays—could help position it for the next wave of U.S. and international tanker procurements. Airbus and Lockheed will explore growing demands for U.S. military aerial refueling and “conceptualize” a next-generation tanker, the companies announced Dec. 4.

The move marks the next phase in the long-running tanker aircraft competition, as three of the biggest aerospace companies fight for a key market.

- A new approach for U.S. tanker work
- U.S. Transcom taps industry to help with tanker shortfall

Lockheed sees the partnership as a chance to swipe at Boeing, to which it lost three major competitions in a row—the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler, UH-1 Huey helicopter and T-X next-generation training aircraft—while Airbus looks to revive its efforts to plug the MRTT into the U.S. market.

Lockheed already delivers C-130J Hercules-based aerial refueling aircraft to Air Force Special Operations and the Marine Corps. It has also unveiled concepts for next-generation airlifters and tankers, including manned and unmanned versions for a planned follow-on tanker development program for the Air Force called KC-Z.

Boeing’s ongoing KC-46 development issues have prompted competitors to sit up and take notice. The Chicago-based airframer has dozens of fully and partially assembled KC-46As awaiting delivery, but the Air Force continues to refuse them in a dispute over lingering deficiencies. As the technical errors and delays have mounted, Boeing has reported losses of more than $3.5 billion on the fixed-price development and production program.


Airbus has delivered MRTTs to three new customers during 2018, including France, Singapore and South Korea. Credit: Airbus Defense & Space

However, deliveries of the Boeing tanker are said to be imminent, with recent KC-46 development aircraft undertaking proving flights to overseas bases, including in Japan and Germany, in preparation for service entry. Even if delivery occurs by year-end, it will be with little fanfare. The problems have left the Air Force with a bitter taste as it seeks a long-term tanker force expansion. It wants 14 new tanker squadrons by 2030 but has yet to secure funding.

The Airbus-Lockheed tie-up has roots in a U.S. Transportation Command (Transcom) solicitation released in June that called for industry help to stem a U.S. aerial refueling capability shortfall and outline how to generate a commercial tanker capability.

During a September industry day at Scott AFB, Illinois, that attracted manufacturers and operators alike, Transcom officials said as many as 20,000-30,000 refueler flight hours are not being supported due to shortfalls.

If their plan gets funding—as Transcom officials are positive it will—it calls for industry to provide 7,000 hr. annually from the outset, “starting small and growing,” say officials.

The Transcom requirements call for a platform capable of carrying a minimum 50,000 lb. of fuel for 1,500 mi., performing the mission day or night and delivering fuel by boom, hose-and-drogue or both. It would have to support tanking operations at 10,000-35,000 ft. which would appear to rule out turboprop-powered aircraft such as the KC-130 Hercules.

Airbus is already familiar with aerial refueling through commercial arrangements. It is part of the AirTanker consortium that provides
aerial refueling and transport services to the British Royal Air Force with the A330 MRTT. But while the AirTanker service is a bespoke private finance initiative, Airbus and Lockheed Martin will study a “fee-for-
service structure.”

The Pentagon is already making use of commercial aerial refueling now. Omega Aerial Refueling Services supports Navy and Marine Corps training. But Transcom notes the largest demand will likely come from receptacle-equipped platforms requiring boom-equipped tankers, few of which are commercially available, potentially opening the market to new-build types such as the A330.

Airbus originally teamed with Northrop Grumman to offer the A330 MRTT to the Air Force as the KC-45, clinching the KC-X contract in 2008. The decision was overturned by the Government Accounting Office after Boeing filed a protest. Northrop withdrew from the follow-up competition, and the KC-45 lost to Boeing’s KC-46 for the $4.9 billion award in 2011. The A330 MRTT has since secured export orders from 12 countries, beating the KC-46 everywhere except Japan.

The A330 MRTT is a derivative of the A330-200 widebody airliner. Emerging as green airframes, they are flown to Spain for conversion to the MRTT standard and kitted out with the refueling and mission systems required by customers. Most MRTTs have been new-build, but two Australian aircraft have been converted from secondhand passenger A330s.
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[*] posted on 13-12-2018 at 10:25 PM


France Orders Three More Airbus A330 MRTT Tankers

(Source: Airbus Defence and Space; issued Dec 13, 2018)


France has ordered the final three Airbus Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft, which was originally planned for award after 2023, brining the number of aircraft on order to 12. Pictured here is the first MRTT delivered to the French Air Force. (Airbus photo)

MADRID --- 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.

The first of the fleet was formally handed over in October and the remainder will be delivered by the end of 2023 under an accelerated timescale requested by France.

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.

The attached photo shows the first delivered Phénix.

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