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Should The Usaf Consider Buying AM-400s?  
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12150 posts, RR: 51
Posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4759 times:

The USAF may be facing a problem in keeping their C-130Es flying past 2012. As I understand it, they are not real happy with the C-130J and only just recently managed to get two J models able to deploy to Iraq. The E models are getting worn out and have faced recent fleet wide groundings. Most E models that have returned to flying status have load restrictions on them.

They are also watching the RAF's investigation into a RAF C-130E loss in Iraq recently. There is some thought of an in flight break-up or other structural failure. As I understand it, the RAF still isn't convinced that airplane was shot down.

If the structural problems prove to be uneconomical to repair, the USAF only has two choices to replace the C-130E tactical airlifter. Increase the buying of C-130Js from Lockheed/Martin (the US Congress loves this proposal). Or join our European friends and start buying Airbus AM-400s.

Of course the C-130J is in production right now and other countries have ordered them for their Air Forces. But, the USAF and USMC buys are very small each year.

Then again, the AM-400 will introduce newer technologies. It should enter flight testing sometime in 2006 or 2007.

So, is it worth it for the USAF and USMC to work the "bugs" out of the C-130J? Or let the European Air Forces pay to work out any "bugs" out of the AM-400 when it starts entering their inventories?

24 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBully707 From Germany, joined Jan 2005, 1037 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 4673 times:
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OK...I do not know the C-130 well enough to make a valid statement.

However...if Lockheed-Martin can eliminate the bugs on the new J models, IMHO there is no need to buy the AM-400 (which needs to proof its capabilities first...).

The C-130 is a proven airframe...and can sustain quite a beating and still take you home safely, I was told.

Godspeed

Bully



"That's the good thing about the 707...it can do anything, but read!" Joe Patroni, Airport '70
User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 4625 times:

IMO the USAF should stick with the C-130J. Buying the A400M would mean adding another type to it's transport fleet. This would drive up costs. Considering the budget situation right now that's something they really can't afford to do. Then one has take into account some of the issues involving the A400M. The Europeans, mainly the Germans, can't seem to make up their mind how many they want. This had led to delays and will probably add to the cost. In other words who knows when it will be available and how much it will cost. And like you said the A400M might have bugs of it's own.

There has been talk of possibly closing the C-130J production line. While this might be a possibility I doubt it will happen. Congress will see to that. The programs Rumsfeld has managed to kill are one that have not reached production.


User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 3, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4592 times:
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I was talking with my Uncle, who works for Lockheed here in ATL, and he actually was very complimentary towards the A-400. He pointed out that if it actually gets off the ground production wise, and it should, that it will be a very capable airframe with excellent speed and payload for those nations that want to carry large objects long distances.

However, the C-130 is the better intertheater transporter in terms of cost/benefit for the USAF due to the fact that we already have an outsize lifter and we have been debugging the J model for a while now and it seems to be doing pretty well.

As the E models wear out we will be forced to buy more J models and they will serve as long as or longer than their predecessors.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineOzair From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 849 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 4548 times:

The A400M would be a great purchase for the USAF, although I do not see it happening.

The greater payload of the A400M would allow complete Stryker units to be deployed with Add-on armor as well as support equipment, something the C130J can not currently do! ( and may never be able to do)

I am not sure why it has taken the US so long to get their C130Js into order, are they that different in configuration than those used by Australia and other operators?


User currently offlineCX747 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4454 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4545 times:

I think part of the reason that the USAF isn't that hot for the C-130J is that there are some projects coming from Skunkworks that really knock the socks off of everything else. In particular, the BMACK design.


"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
User currently offlineOzair From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 849 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 4529 times:

Quoting CX747 (Reply 5):
there are some projects coming from Skunkworks that really knock the socks off of everything else. In particular, the BMACK design.

What is the BMACK, I can't seem to find any information on this on the net. Are we talking about vertical heavy lift, blended wing or that huge airship idea?


User currently offlineRayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 8018 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 4486 times:

Actually, Boeing right now is doing very serious studies using the blended wing body design they inherited from McDonnell-Douglas that could result in a freighter with roll-on/roll-off ramps that will carry substantial payloads at quite long ranges.  Smile Surprisingly, there is also considerable commercial interest in such a plane, mostly because unless someone provides lots of money the factory in the Ukraine that produces the An-124 Ruslan can't produce enough planes for worldwide demand.

User currently offlineKeesje From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 4480 times:

I think much depends on if the Pentagon is willing to invest in a H130 replacement.

A400 is somewhere in between H130 and C17 IMO. A stretch possibility seems to be build in..


User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 9, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 4445 times:
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Quoting Ozair (Reply 4):
he greater payload of the A400M would allow complete Stryker units to be deployed with Add-on armor as well as support equipment, something the C130J can not currently do! ( and may never be able to do)

We don't need the AM-400 for that...we can just use the C-17 fleet if it becomes necessary to roll in fully loaded Strykers.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineBully707 From Germany, joined Jan 2005, 1037 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 4433 times:
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Now...that C17 is a sweet machine !!!  yummy 

Sorry for being off topic...

Bully

[Edited 2005-03-16 23:32:37]


"That's the good thing about the 707...it can do anything, but read!" Joe Patroni, Airport '70
User currently offlineGreaser From Bahamas, joined Jan 2004, 1101 posts, RR: 3
Reply 11, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 4401 times:

Quoting Bully707 (Reply 10):
Now...that C17 is a sweet machine !!!

IMHO, it's the most capable and versatile. That's what you pay for

I think it's safe to say that realistically, the C-130J will be the last variant of the C-130.Both Boeing and Lockheed have designs for a replacement, and obviously the C-130 has outdone itself many times over. But the A-400M is not the answer. Ridden with delays, combined with a whole new set of teething problems, and options we dont need. The A400 is France/Germany's type of lifter, not ours. However, Boeing already has something up their sleeve, so hopefully Congress will sort this mess out.



Now you're really flying
User currently offlineOzair From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 849 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 4395 times:

Quoting DL021 (Reply 9):
We don't need the AM-400 for that...we can just use the C-17 fleet if it becomes necessary to roll in fully loaded Strykers.

What are the operating costs of the C-17 compared to the C-130J and projected for the A-400M, I would guess higher as well as the fact that there will never be enough C-17s to fill this requirement. They have already replaced C-141s and will replace early C-5s. Unless another 100 are purchased above existing procurement there is no way there would be enough to cover so many roles!


User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 13, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4383 times:
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You have to include acquisition costs to the direct operating costs of the A-400 systems. The C-17 offers more and larger payload, better unrefuelled range and better speed to the target area.

I am not saying that the A-400 costs less to buy and operate than the C-17, but we already have the C-17. The Europeans would buy the C-17 if they could afford the thing, but they won't.

I keep hearing about the BWB, the large tiltrotor and other potential airlifter options, but there isn't anything on the horizon that looks like its gonna get done in the next twenty years. We will spend the money on strike aircraft and aerial refuellers as well as more in-theater lifters. The design work will continue and we'll eventually get the new stuff. Off topic but interesting.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineGreaser From Bahamas, joined Jan 2004, 1101 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 4366 times:

Quoting DL021 (Reply 13):
I am not saying that the A-400 costs less to buy and operate than the C-17, but we already have the C-17. The Europeans would buy the C-17 if they could afford the thing, but they won't.

I think there's a general feeling among a.netters that the US should buy it as a 'me too' kind of thing. Just because Europe has it and it's a new design, so we gotta have it. Fact is, we're cutting budgets, have gone through the bulk of the -130J's problems, and it would be a total waste of cash to buy something one of our own can already do, even if more expensive. If we want to talk about saving money, try developing more fuel efficient fighters, then we'll talk.



Now you're really flying
User currently offlineKeesje From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 3 days ago) and read 4319 times:

Quoting Greaser (Reply 14):
a general feeling among a.netters that the US should buy it as a 'me too' kind of thing

I think "not from here" motivated guidelines are stronger.

Quoting Greaser (Reply 14):
Fact is, we're cutting budgets, have gone through the bulk of the -130J's problems, and it would be a total waste of cash to buy something one of our own can already do, even if more expensive.

..and the cristal clear contradiction internio is there to support it...

next step :
even if

Quoting Greaser (Reply 14):
one of our own

cannot already do it, we better develop something ourselves.

Ok for me, just lets not make it look too business like..


User currently offlineLMP737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4298 times:

Quoting Keesje (Reply 15):
I think "not from here" motivated guidelines are stronger.

Just as the engine selection for the A400M probably had more to do with "not from here" than cost or technical merits.

Of course "not from here" will play a part in any decision on the A400M being in USAF colors. However we also have to look at the other factors involved.

How long would the USAF have to wait for the A400M? The French Air Force is not getting their first one until 2009. That's assuming of course that everything proceeds as planned. As we have seen with this program that's a mighty big assumption. It seems to me that the only way for the USAF to get the A400M around the same time is to increase production capacity or for other countries to wait a little longer for their aircraft.

Is the USAF willing to pay more per copy for the A400M than the C-130J? In today's budgetary climate I say no. In addition adding another type to their transport fleet would also drive up costs as well.

The A400M makes perfect sense for countries that want/need more capability than the C-130 and cannot afford the C-17. Or can't get the C-17 due to political reasons, the French Air Force. IMHO I think the USAF would be better served sticking with the C-130J and waiting to see what Boeing or Lockheed come up with as a successor.


User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 17, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 4272 times:
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The A-400M is a great idea....the C-130J is a great airplane.

Once again...the C-130J is already in the inventory and will be in production for at least the next several years. Lockheed and Boeing are sure to be developing concepts for the next gen replacement, but there really is no need for us to spend money on another conventional transporter.

We have one for pretty much every situation and they are already developed and working in the system. It would be a waste of money to buy a completely new system that does not do anything completely new.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineDuce50boom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4250 times:

An A400 in AMC grey? Come on, there's been enough hassle trying to get the A330, which supposedly would be built in the US of A, even IN the tanker competition. The A400 won't have a chance considering how many delays it has had, how late the US would be in the delivery queue, or how we've got two proven (sort of) lifters already in service; the 130J and the C-17. It's not American, it's not ready, and we'll have to pay more for less if it's ordered.

It won't happen, period, dot, end of sentence


User currently offlineGreaser From Bahamas, joined Jan 2004, 1101 posts, RR: 3
Reply 19, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4218 times:

Quoting Keesje (Reply 15):
and the cristal clear contradiction internio is there to support it...

Nice curveball Kessje, but unfortunately for you i meant PROGRAM BUDGETS, which has been regurgitated for the last million times by other members. Besides, you should know by now that the C-17 has proven itself many times over, and is cheaper to operate over the long haul, has excellent STOL performance, and has winglets that can put any KC-330 to shame.

Quoting Keesje (Reply 15):
I think "not from here" motivated guidelines are stronger

Then we better tell Airbus to stop offering the KC-330 right now to stop wasting their time? Because WE ALL KNOW America only buys AMERICAN, and that the only trade deficit we have is with Mars. good idea.



Now you're really flying
User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7957 posts, RR: 12
Reply 20, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 4202 times:

There is simply no good reason for the U.S. to introduce another tactical airlifter. The A400M may be a good decision for European countries for which the C-17 is too big and expensive and the C-130J too small/narrow, but certainly not for the U.S.


I support the right to arm bears
User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8507 posts, RR: 12
Reply 21, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4137 times:

Quoting Greaser (Reply 11):
IMHO, it's the most capable and versatile. That's what you pay for

Ooh, don't let Galaxy5 hear you say that (wasn't he the local C-5 pilot that I remember who didn't care for the C-17?).

Quoting Greaser (Reply 19):
has excellent STOL performance

You know, I'd like to see a fly-off between the A400, if it ever gets built, and the C-17. I still remember the first time I saw a C-17 in person: Oshkosh 1994. It's amazing how little runway a maximum performance landing requires.


User currently offlineDuce50boom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 4081 times:

Quoting MD-90 (Reply 21):
Ooh, don't let Galaxy5 hear you say that (wasn't he the local C-5 pilot that I remember who didn't care for the C-17?).

Galaxy5 is a Flight Engineer brah. 'Sides, I think he'd agree that the C-17 is a very capable aircraft that's much better for the US than the A400 would be, his normal "anti C-17" shpeel (a very valid one too) is that it can't replace the C-5. Some idiots in a certain 5 sided building think it can and the people who will pay for their buffoonery are the crews and the customers.


User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13208 posts, RR: 77
Reply 23, posted (9 years 6 months 6 days ago) and read 4006 times:

Firstly, let's dispel the myth that A400M isn't going to happen, (understandable perhaps what with all the delays of recent years), but metal for A400M is being cut, right now.
But, it's hard to justify a US A400M, not when C-17 and C-130J are still in production.

I suspect C-130J will survive, but it is limited by that fuselage cross section (built to a 1950's US Army requirement, which guided Lockheed when designing the Herc).
If you've C-17, it does not matter, but if Europe is serious about increasing air-lift (and they seem to be), A400M provides an affordable capability, C-17 is great, but unaffordable to them, at least in decent numbers.

One other thing, the C-130K's delivered to the RAF in the late 60's, were UK spec C-130H, not E models, I suspect that USAF E models are generally older than the remaining RAF C-130Ks.


User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14026 posts, RR: 62
Reply 24, posted (9 years 6 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 4013 times:

AFAIK, the first A400M centerwing box has already been manufactured.

Jan


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