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Any Need For A Usaf Super Heavy-Lifter?  
User currently offlinekric777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2002, 280 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 8297 times:
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I know they've been retrofitting some C-5s to C-5M spec, but are there any plans (or is there any need) to take a step back and decide if the USAF needs a super heavy-lifter on par with the A-124 or A-225. It must be kick in the shorts for the USAF to have to contract out certain heavy-lift jobs to Antonov (a former adversary), especially in areas of conflict like Afghanistan.

Obviously, if given a contract and a development budget, it would be a cinch for Boeing, for example, to develop a monstrous heavy-lifter with an efficient two-man cockpit and, say, 6 GEnx engines. But I guess the market would be limited to the few organizations who are moving a lot of big, heavy stuff around frequently: Namely the USA, Russia, and China, the latter two of which probably wouldn't buy such an expensive aircraft from a US firm.

But I guess at this point, and given the US federal budget situation, it's just cheaper to outsource heavy lift jobs to Antonov or Volga/Dnepr HeavyLift

Any thoughts? -- and this is not an invitation for the usual "the USA is in decline", discussion, because we all know that if there was a definite, perceived need for an AN-225-sized aircraft, Boeing or Lockheed-Martin would have several of them flying around by now.

It's just an academic question at this point.....

21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSSTeve From United States of America, joined Dec 2011, 733 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 8249 times:

No need. There are always alternatives, and they're far cheaper.

User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 2, posted (1 year 7 months 4 weeks ago) and read 8230 times:

I don't think any government can justify the cost of developing a purpose built clean sheet design of a strategic military focused heavy lift aircraft.

As mentioned above - the capacity exists from commercial contractors today to meet existing and projected needs.

My prediction from another thread was that if there is a strong enough business market for heavy lift aircraft to be built to replace the An-124/ An-225 - commercial businesses will fund that development and build. The various militaries might purchase some of the planes, or continue the trend toward commercialization of airlift.


User currently offlinesweair From Sweden, joined Nov 2011, 1833 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (1 year 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 8193 times:

I think Afghanistan is the last major airlift campaign, a land locked battle area with sometimes hostiles neighbours..

Fuel will become so exepnsive even Cheney will give up his adventures spreading democracy by the sword.


User currently offlinekanban From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 3864 posts, RR: 27
Reply 4, posted (1 year 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 8065 times:
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there were rumors that the second AN-225 was going to be completed (however i think that may be a seasonal offering of hope).. Honestly, I doubt that there is enough commercial use to justify a new purpose built jet freighter. However there may be some use for lighter than air cargo vessels, especially since they don't need runways.

User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31420 posts, RR: 85
Reply 5, posted (1 year 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 8051 times:
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Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 2):
I don't think any government can justify the cost of developing a purpose built clean sheet design of a strategic military focused heavy lift aircraft.

The only one I can think of is China, and even that's a stretch, IMO.



Quoting kanban (Reply 4):
However there may be some use for lighter than air cargo vessels, especially since they don't need runways.

That is what I am thinking, as well.


User currently offlinevenus6971 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 1445 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 7 months 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 7266 times:

There was a rumor floating about Lockheed Martin asking the USAF to buy some retired C-5A's change the MSL update the aircraft and make a commercial go of it but the USAF did not want to sell the old jets.


I would help you but it is not in the contract
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12181 posts, RR: 51
Reply 7, posted (1 year 7 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 7242 times:

If there was a need for such a behemoth, we already have one, the B-747-400LCF. The USAF could ask for a B-747-8F version of the B-744LCF and have very little development costs. It carries the same weight as the C-5M and with it's swing open tail section would be able to load put-sized items.

The 4 B-744LCfs are used to transport the completed wings of the B-787 to the two FALs.


User currently offlineSSTeve From United States of America, joined Dec 2011, 733 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (1 year 7 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 7183 times:

Would the LCFs would not be able to operate to commercial airports? Though that may not be a big deal. I actually sort of like the skunkworks model. If, in the future, we actually have a specific need to fly enormous loads around, let's just one-off some experimental frames rather than developing a long-lived airlifter that's going to have all the worries about maintainability in the long, long, long run. Much cheaper to be application specific. It's not just the LCF, but also the Shuttle Carriers, the AN-225, SOFIA, B-52s and the X-15, Orbital's L1011.

User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31420 posts, RR: 85
Reply 9, posted (1 year 7 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 7145 times:
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The 747-400LCF is custom-designed to handle only the 787 parts it does.

A 747LCF designed for general outsized cargo would need to be designed for such a role.


User currently offlinekanban From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 3864 posts, RR: 27
Reply 10, posted (1 year 7 months 3 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 7091 times:
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One must remember that the LCF cargo area is unpressurized and the skins no more than a shield against air buffeting.
The Beluga may be different.


User currently offlinerheite From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 10 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 7 months 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 7047 times:

The usage of Super Heavy lift would only be useful as a means to quickly move heavy equipment (ie tanks, large numbers of helicopters broken down, etc) inland faster than what it would take to TT via the ground.

You have the current C-5 assets that can do this now, as well as the versatile C-17 for all the in between jobs. Even the Marine Corps is renewing it's "amphibious roots" and all nations are realizing the next wars are going to be very water centric, as not only a resource and/or resource locations, but as a tool of war. Sea borne invasions are going to return in the next war/conflict that arises, and the methodology of sea based warfare will allow for the quick offload of the 4 B's from the sea and transported on established routes away from the beachhead and to the front.



-R.K. Heite Sr
User currently offlinekric777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2002, 280 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (1 year 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 6911 times:
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Quoting rheite (Reply 11):
The usage of Super Heavy lift would only be useful as a means to quickly move heavy equipment (ie tanks, large numbers of helicopters broken down, etc) inland faster than what it would take to TT via the ground.

True -- anything THAT heavy (e.g. more than one or two Abrams tanks, multiple Patriot missile batteries or MLRS units) is going to to be shipped by train to the coast, and then by ocean-going ship. If such a load needs to be in place that quickly, that's poor strategic planning or some kind of crisis. Probably not frequent enough to justify the investment in a super-heavy-lifter. Not sure how heavy the Patriot batteries / MLRS units are, but I know the Abrams are a beast to transport by air.

BTW -- I think the Dreamlifter, like the Super Guppy and Beluga, was designed to transport outsized, bulky but LIGHTWEGHT cargo....not heavy stuff like tanks, generators, and howitzers.


User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1858 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (1 year 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 6860 times:

Quoting rheite (Reply 11):
Even the Marine Corps is renewing it's "amphibious roots" and all nations are realizing the next wars are going to be very water centric, as not only a resource and/or resource locations, but as a tool of war. Sea borne invasions are going to return in the next war/conflict that arises, and the methodology of sea based warfare will allow for the quick offload of the 4 B's from the sea and transported on established routes away from the beachhead and to the front.

Indeed, that's why the USN, Marines, and Sealift Command are building the new Mobile Landing Platform ships, which allows vehicles onboard US prepositioning ships to be moved to shore without the need of a harbour by directly offloading them while off a coast onto a LCAC for transport ashore. The USN already has 3 Montford Point class Mobile Landing Platforms authorized and on order, with the first, USNS Montford Point due to join the fleet this month. Below is a article on the MLP's and what they mean for the future of amphibious warfare:
http://defense.aol.com/2013/03/08/80...s-montford-point-the-navy-s-new-m/

http://www.nassco.com/breaking-news/wp-content/uploads/USNS-Montford-Point_MLP-1_Undocking-at-General-Dynamics-NASSCO.jpg

The ships were based off an existing commercial tanker designed and built for BP, and through very diligent work by USN and the shipyard, they were able to manage costs effectively though extensive industrial cooperation with South Korea and Japan through technology sharing.

What the MLP's effectively do is put MORE well decks in the water for amphibious warfare at a fraction of a cost that it would require for an actual amphib.


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12181 posts, RR: 51
Reply 14, posted (1 year 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 6593 times:

Quoting kric777 (Reply 12):
BTW -- I think the Dreamlifter, like the Super Guppy and Beluga, was designed to transport outsized, bulky but LIGHTWEGHT cargo....not heavy stuff like tanks, generators, and howitzers.

The B-747-400LCF Dreamlifter is capable of lifting 104 tonnes.

The requirements for a USAF heavy-lifter are not driven by the USAF, but by the 'customers', the US Army, US Marines, and US Navy. All of them, and more government agencies, like FEMA, have used USAF C-5s, C-17s, and before they were retired C-141s. Governments other than the US Government also have requested use of these USAF assets.


User currently offlinesweair From Sweden, joined Nov 2011, 1833 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (1 year 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 6468 times:

I still think a future heavy lifter will be in the shape of a BWB, as you can put the cargo in the middle of that big thick wing structure G-forces are a non-problem. Efficiency being the main driver in this case. No problems with gate space and you can make it ramp loaded in the rear.

User currently offlineEagleboy From Niue, joined Dec 2009, 1917 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (1 year 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 6377 times:
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Quoting kanban (Reply 4):

there were rumors that the second AN-225 was going to be completed (however i think that may be a seasonal offering of hope).. Honestly, I doubt that there is enough commercial use to justify a new purpose built jet freighter.

Last months 'Combat Aircraft' had an interview with the operators of the AN-225.......they admit that there is an unbuilt aircraft still in crates. But as they only use the AN-225 1-2 times a month there is not commercial demand for a 2nd AN-225.


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12181 posts, RR: 51
Reply 17, posted (1 year 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 6355 times:

I'm not sure a BWB would be the best design for a large heavy lift cargo airplane. Take a look at the only operationally (manned) BWB airplane currently in use, the B-2A. All of the major functions of the bomber, including its engines, two weapons, and crew compartment are inside the main landing gear. It would be essentially the same with any other mission airplane that uses BWB technology, except wide body tankers or cargo aircraft. For a heavy lifter that can carry outsized cargo, you would need a huge wingspan. For the B-2 Bomber, the wingspan is 172 feet. For a WB cargo aircraft, it would need a huge wingspan, on the order of 250' +.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NORTHROP_B-2.png


User currently offlineTWA772LR From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 2451 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (1 year 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 6192 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 7):

But the LCF needs a K-loader, whereas the C5 has nose and tail ramps.



A landing EVERYONE can walk away from, is a good landing.
User currently offlinespink From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 319 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 6049 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 17):
I'm not sure a BWB would be the best design for a large heavy lift cargo airplane. Take a look at the only operationally (manned) BWB airplane currently in use, the B-2A. All of the major functions of the bomber, including its engines, two weapons, and crew compartment are inside the main landing gear. It would be essentially the same with any other mission airplane that uses BWB technology, except wide body tankers or cargo aircraft. For a heavy lifter that can carry outsized cargo, you would need a huge wingspan. For the B-2 Bomber, the wingspan is 172 feet. For a WB cargo aircraft, it would need a huge wingspan, on the order of 250' +.

B-2 is a poor example of a BWB as it is actually a flying wing/hybrid flying wing design. A BWB design is closer to the Boeing X-48 style. A 200 ft wide BWB would have a cargo area in the range of 130ftx100ft with approximately 18-20 ft of cargo height. So for a plane slightly smaller than a C-5, you would have roughly 5x the cargo area. Also remember that for a given wingspan and engine thrust, a BWB will have significantly higher lift than a conventional tube and wing design.

Now a BWB does have some issues with wrt materials, design required, and engine placement, but it is certainly doable.

So if Boeing or Airbus does a large passenger BWB design, I would expect various government and non-government entities to be interested in a cargo variant.


User currently offline747400sp From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3758 posts, RR: 2
Reply 20, posted (4 weeks 16 hours 56 minutes ago) and read 1914 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 13):
The ships were based off an existing commercial tanker designed and built for BP, and through very diligent work by USN and the shipyard, they were able to manage costs effectively though extensive industrial cooperation with South Korea and Japan through technology sharing.

.


Yes, it is based off the Alaska class tankers. The funny thing for me, is the fact that NASSCO was building the Alaska class tankers, when I was based in San Diego 32 street. Even though these ship are shorter than the tankers, they are around the same width, so it can carry a lot of stuff. NASSCO was also building the first of the T-AKEs, when I was based at 32 street.


User currently offlinekanban From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 3864 posts, RR: 27
Reply 21, posted (4 weeks 13 hours 17 minutes ago) and read 1744 times:
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While Boeing's Super Frog looks interesting, I foresee problems scaling that up to C-5 cargo dimensions.

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