Lumberton
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Why This French Tanker?

Fri Jun 20, 2008 9:50 pm

I thought the French Air Force had issued an RFP for a new tanker? Now I read this:
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/...nch-Defense-on-a-New-Course-04937/

Quote:
France's. . . (KC-135) aerial refueling tankers are 45 years old, the Puma helicopters upon which it relies for many battlefield transport tasks are 30 years old, and its light armored vehicles average 28 years old. By which he makes the point that modernization of basic battlefield equipment is required. As it happens, these stated requirements would be met in future by key proposed programs, including the Airbus A400M transport with secondary tanker capabilities, the NH90 TTH battlefield helicopter, et. al.

If these proposals go through, will this rule out an A330 tanker for the French Air Force?

[Edited 2008-06-20 14:51:22]
"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
 
GST
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Fri Jun 20, 2008 10:39 pm

Has France even expressed any interest in the A330 based tanker (officially or unofficially)?

Sofar as I can see they do not require anything like the 330 in any large numbers, but correct me if I am wrong, but the A400M can only refuel 2 aircraft at a time? I'd have expected they might need a few slightly larger capacity aircraft with the extended range of the A330 variant.
 
Lumberton
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:13 pm

The have around 12-14 KC-135s at present. I remember reading "somewhere" (and I've tried to find the source, but can't) that they were considering an RFP for replacements and the A330 and 767 tanker variants were mentioned as contenders. It seems odd, to me at least, that they would consider using an A400 to perform this role.
"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sat Jun 21, 2008 12:32 am

Actually, for France, the A-400M makes more sense then either the KC-30 or KC-767. France has 11 C-135FRs. Out of the original French order for 12 KC-135F, they lost one in an accident in the South Pacific in 1974.
 
XT6Wagon
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sat Jun 21, 2008 12:34 am



Quoting Lumberton (Reply 2):
It seems odd, to me at least, that they would consider using an A400 to perform this role

commonality with the cargo fleet of A400 is likely a big factor.

Not sure France is going to be going solo on any large scale overseas deployments against large armys so, I don't think the A400 really hinders them much.
 
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N328KF
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sat Jun 21, 2008 1:16 am

The KC-135s were great for the French AdA because they operate 707 variants (also with CFM56s.) Don't their A340s also have CFM56s?
When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' -Theodore Roosevelt
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sat Jun 21, 2008 2:55 am



Quoting N328KF (Reply 5):
The KC-135s were great for the French AdA because they operate 707 variants (also with CFM56s.) Don't their A340s also have CFM56s?

Yes, they do, they are A-340-200s. They also had 2 DC-8-50s that were reengined with CFM-56s. I believe the A-=340s replaced the DC-8s as VIP aircraft.
 
A342
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sat Jun 21, 2008 10:19 am

A large airliner-based tanker would not compete with the A400M, but complement it. Same with the UK, Germany, the USA, you name it.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 6):
I believe the A-=340s replaced the DC-8s as VIP aircraft.

The A342s are actually troop transports.
Exceptions confirm the rule.
 
Lumberton
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:28 am



Quoting A342 (Reply 7):
A large airliner-based tanker would not compete with the A400M, but complement it.

Agreed. I do not thing one-for-one replacement would be indicated for their KC-135 fleet if they proceed with the Sarkozy administration's proposals, one of which is a significant reduction in tactical aircraft:

Quote:
300 combat aircraft (Rafale and Mirage 2000), down from 350. Some will carry modernized ASMPA nuclear missiles. France will also field a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV drone in a class similar to America’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, and to Israel’s Heron drones.

"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
 
GDB
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:06 pm

I think it's likely we will see a French AF A330-200 tanker in time, maybe ex civil ones - GE powered that is.
However, they may be calculating that A400M is more of a priority in a tight budget, that it also looks to be a capable tanker too no doubt is very helpful to them.

With the very recent French defence review, calling for the closing of some overseas French bases, the argument for a small A330 tanker/transport force to complement the A400M's.
The more mobile, flexible rapid reaction forces envisaged, need to be able to get where they are going to after all.

Often a lot a comment over here about the differing levels of closeness with the US, between the UK and France.
It should be remembered though, that the KC-135's were ordered for France initially for one reason only.
To allow the new French independent nuclear force, carried on Mirage IVA bombers, to reach their Soviet targets. (Not that there would be anything to return to).
The US knew this of course too.

Thus rather undermining CDG's complaints about Anglo favouritism, indeed he was still in office when the US licenced technology exports for navigation equipment, for the then under development French SLBM's.
(Better yet, the command and control is directly imported TCAMO gear, but carried in modified C-160's).

In time of course, the French KC-135's got the various updates, including CFM engines, wing mounted hoses, a hose on to the boom - boom compatible French aircraft began and ended with the Mirage IVA.

In the early/mid 60's, the KC-135 was also the only tanker game in town - to support the bombers at least.
The VC-10 (which French industry built the tails of), was not yet in military service, a (converted) tanker version - not with a boom either, was two decades away.
 
Lumberton
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:40 pm

Some info on the A400's promised capabilities in the tanker role from Airbus' web site. If the performance pans out, I can see this aircraft doing yeoman service in a dual role.
http://www.airbusmilitary.com/performance.html

Quote:
The A400M is also quickly convertible into a tactical tanker. The flight envelope of the A400M allows it to refuel a wide range of aircraft and helicopters, at the altitudes appropriate to their missions.

* A two-point trailing drogue system can be installed within two hours by fitting two standard air-to-air refuelling pods (optional) to the multi-role attachment points on the wings. Each pod provides a fuel flow of up to 1200 kg/min.
* A centre-line pallet-mounted hose drum unit can be fitted in the rear cargo bay. It provides a fuel flow of 1800 kg/min.

To enhance the fuel volume, up to two optional cargo hold fuel tanks (CHT) can also be installed, providing up to 5.7 tonnes at extra fuel each. These additional tanks connect directly to the aircraft's fuel system and thus become part of the A400M's computer-controlled centralised fuel management system.

Designed from the outset to be a dual-role air transport and air-to-air refuelling aircraft, the versatile A400M offers air commanders and planners new levels of flexibility in the delivery of air power. Its basic fuel capacity of 50.5 tonnes or up to 60 tonnes with two optional Cargo Hold Tanks fitted, coupled with its own low fuel-burn rate, makes it an efficient aerial tanker and a cost-effective way for air forces to acquire an aerial refuelling capability.

"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
 
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N328KF
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:25 am

Why not have pooled tanker assets with NATO in the same manner they pool E-3s as well as what it looks like they're doing with the C-17s? Throw some tankers in the mix too.
When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' -Theodore Roosevelt
 
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breiz
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:53 pm



Quoting Lumberton (Thread starter):
I thought the French Air Force had issued an RFP for a new tanker?

Not quite.
This was reported by Flight end of last year:
"DATE:23/11/07
SOURCE:Flightglobal.com

French air force chief eyes new tanker deal

France hopes to proceed to the next stage of an evaluation process involving the Airbus A330-based KC-30 and Boeing KC-767 tankers "as soon as possible", and is closely following the UK's protracted private finance initiative deal with the EADS-led AirTanker consortium as a possible procurement model, says air force chief of staff Gen Stéphane Abrial.

The air force is seeking 15 new aircraft to replace its Boeing 707-based C-135s, but will not have time to put a private finance initiative deal in place for the first three tankers that need replacing in 2011, says Abrial.

"For the first three there is not enough time for a private finance initiative" deal, he says, adding: "2011 is tomorrow - we are almost late already."

But for the remaining 12 aircraft a PFI could be put in place depending on the success of the UK programme, he adds.

The Royal Air Force is to receive 14 A330s under its estimated £13 billion ($26.6 billion), 27-year Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft programme, but EADS has yet to secure funding from financial institutions to launch work on the aircraft.

Speaking to the French aerospace journalists' association AJPAE on 19 November, Abrial also confirmed that the air force will face extra maintenance charges on its C160 Transall fleet if the Airbus Military A400Ms under contract to replace them are delayed further.

The service "can manage with its existing fleet" if EADS sticks to the revised delivery delay of up to one year as recently outlined, but must gradually reduce the pace at which it is using its remaining Transall flight hours to do so, he said. France had originally been scheduled to receive its first of 50 A400Ms in late 2009.

Abrial did not say how much it would cost to carry out the additional maintenance required to keep the ageing Transall aircraft going if the programme is delayed any further."
 
Lumberton
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:32 pm

Thanks, Breiz. I knew that there had been something published, but my search attempts at finding it failed. If 15 aircraft is still the goal, a mix of A400s and a larger aircraft could work very well for them.

Quoting N328KF (Reply 11):
Why not have pooled tanker assets with NATO in the same manner they pool E-3s as well as what it looks like they're doing with the C-17s? Throw some tankers in the mix too.

Very interesting suggestion. I could also see France and Germany pooling A400s if the EU deployment force discussed in the link I posted from Defense Industry Daily gets up and rolling.

Quote:
While his speech’s statements re: NATO attracted a great deal of attention, however, Sarkozy’s speech also placed a lot of emphasis on the planned EU Defence Policy. This was true at the level of the proposed 60,000 soldier set of deployable EU battlegroups, and also in terms of pan-European defense industry integration. Sarkozy made it clear that he intends to push both themes as major priorities during his upcoming rotation as the EU President, as a tangible demonstration of the EU’s benefits to Europe’s citizens. In his speech, he presented the EU as offering reinforcing capabilities, as well as broad-based financial and civil aid, policing, legal assistance, et. al. that would be integrated into and required by future nation stabilization and counterinsurgency operations.

"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
 
A342
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sun Jun 22, 2008 4:25 pm



Quoting Lumberton (Reply 13):
If 15 aircraft is still the goal, a mix of A400s and a larger aircraft could work very well for them.

I think it's 15 tankers plus the A400Ms, because these have already been ordered.
Exceptions confirm the rule.
 
Lumberton
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sun Jun 22, 2008 5:44 pm



Quoting A342 (Reply 14):
I think it's 15 tankers plus the A400Ms, because these have already been ordered.

We will likely have confirmation if they get around to issuing a request for proposals. Perhaps they will lean towards the A400, given the ease with which will be able to convert to the tanker mode. As GDB noted above:

Quoting GDB (Reply 9):
It should be remembered though, that the KC-135's were ordered for France initially for one reason only.
To allow the new French independent nuclear force, carried on Mirage IVA bombers, to reach their Soviet targets.

Given that the Mirage IVs will be gone, will they still need a "big jet" tanker?
"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
 
GDB
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sun Jun 22, 2008 6:46 pm

The Mirage IVA's - the last few recce versions, retired about 3 years ago I think.
(Since I did a thread on it at the time, I should perhaps be more sure!)

The drogue attached to the boom does give a fuselage point, for larger aircraft/higher rate refuelling, even on pure hose systems for higher rate.
Which the A400M won't have presumably.
Whether France thinks it needs that still, since most AAR is for tactical aircraft, is unclear, though that would be the better way to AAR with an A400M (and the probe equipped C.160NG's - they were also delivered with a hose unit).

Mention of C.160NG refuelling ability;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transall_C-160

One receiving;
http://1000aircraftphotos.com/Contributions/Visschedijk/7311.htm

[Edited 2008-06-22 12:03:48]
 
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flyingclrs727
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:23 pm

I wonder if the USAF would be interested in buying back France's fleet of KC-135R's after they get KC-30's or A400M's? The USAF already has over 400 KC-135R's and could benefit from the fact that the French KC-135's have already been upgraded to support hose and drogue refuelling from wing pods. Also these were some of the later built KC-135's.
 
Lumberton
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Sun Jun 22, 2008 9:55 pm



Quoting FlyingClrs727 (Reply 17):
I wonder if the USAF would be interested in buying back France's fleet of KC-135R's

Omega Air might want them as well.
"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
 
A342
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:39 am

I don't think anybody would want them. They still have the analog cockpit and they're coming to the end of their lives. The French aerospace press says it's a wonder they are still flying.
Exceptions confirm the rule.
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Tue Jun 24, 2008 12:54 am



Quoting Breiz (Reply 12):
The air force is seeking 15 new aircraft to replace its Boeing 707-based C-135s, but will not have time to put a private finance initiative deal in place for the first three tankers that need replacing in 2011, says Abrial.

"For the first three there is not enough time for a private finance initiative" deal, he says, adding: "2011 is tomorrow - we are almost late already."



Quoting A342 (Reply 19):
I don't think anybody would want them. They still have the analog cockpit and they're coming to the end of their lives. The French aerospace press says it's a wonder they are still flying.

This part I have a hard time swallowing . The French KC-135s are all 1962 and 1963 models. They have slightly more flying time on them than the USAF birds do. The French tankers have had most of the same mods the USAF tankers have, and all of the major mods, like the R configueration, and the under wing surface re-skin. True, they do not have Pacer Craig.
 
A342
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RE: Why This French Tanker?

Tue Jun 24, 2008 6:58 pm



Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 20):
They have slightly more flying time on them than the USAF birds do.

Are you sure about this? From what I know, they were / are used much more intensely.
Exceptions confirm the rule.

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