HaveBlue
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Drone Tanker Aircraft?

Sat Nov 26, 2011 3:35 pm

While researching something else I came across this, and it's the first I've heard about it. Not only would the Global Hawk refuel another Global Hawk, but they have a role reversal... the tanker will join up from behind with the probe.. while the 'tankee' or reciever will be the forward aircraft with the hose and drogue! This will extend the flight time of the GH from 35 hours to 125 hours.

Nice article on this, and check out the "refueling mishaps" video linked at the bottom of the article.. its got the infamous Sea Stallion event but also several others I'd never seen before. Enjoy!

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs...9f93ce-32ea-40ea-9b6c-4b20cb0d5bce

http://img853.imageshack.us/img853/5403/kq4.jpg
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ebj1248650
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RE: Drone Tanker Aircraft?

Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:33 am

If this can be done, I see the day coming, though probably not in my lifetime, when military freight will go out on pilotless cargo planes which will be refueled by pilotless tankers. I see both being configured so that they can be piloted by human crews if passengers are onboard but would be pilotless if no life forms (people, livestock, etc.) are being carried. I also suspect both freighter and tanker will take the form of a very large flying wing, with the tanker doubling as a cargo plane when the need arises.
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Moose135
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RE: Drone Tanker Aircraft?

Sun Nov 27, 2011 5:28 am

They carry the world's smallest boom operator... 
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kc135topboom
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RE: Drone Tanker Aircraft?

Sun Nov 27, 2011 1:29 pm

NASA has wanted the tanker to be behind and below the receiver for years. They had this proposal to refuel the B-747 shuttler carriers with the tanker below and behind. That was so there would be no adverse turbulance from the tanker on the shuttle if the tanker were in the normal position.

Their plan was to fit several KC-135s with refueling probes for the reverse flow air refueling. The hose and drogue would be on the B-747 carrier aircraft.

The plan back then became unworkable due to the size and capabilities of the fuel pums needed to pump fuel "up hill" at a significant rate and quantity to refuel a B-747.

Will this NG scheme work? With enough technology, yes. I understand NG has a KQ-4 in flight testing now at EDW. But with the Global Hawks costing as much as $200M each, is a dedicated KQ-4 worth the costs? Modifying a few KC-135Rs to refuel RQ-4A/B/E, EQ-4B, and MQ-4Cs may be a much cheaper alternitive even if it has to be done at lower altitudes than the proposed KQ-4 refueling altitude of FL-600.

A modified KC-135 could refuel Global Hawks as high as FL-450, maybe a little higher. The KC-135 can fly as high as FL-500.
 
HaveBlue
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RE: Drone Tanker Aircraft?

Mon Nov 28, 2011 2:33 am

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 3):
But with the Global Hawks costing as much as $200M each,

The 200M price is with the whole programs costs factored in.. actual airframe price is $35M each up to $50M depending on upgrades. I see your point just clarifying.
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Legs
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RE: Drone Tanker Aircraft?

Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:33 am

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 3):
KC-135 could refuel Global Hawks as high as FL-450
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 3):
The KC-135 can fly as high as FL-500.

Are those sorts of altitudes SOP for -135 crews?

Quoting HaveBlue (Thread starter):
125 hours.

I wonder what is the next limiting factor, engine oil perhaps? And on a related note, I wonder what the record is for keeping a Global Hawk (or any other UAV, for that matter) in 'flight mode' with the datalink etc active? Is the system stable enough to support missions up to 5 days long?

[Edited 2011-11-27 22:41:19]
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: Drone Tanker Aircraft?

Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:10 am

Quoting legs (Reply 5):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 3):
KC-135 could refuel Global Hawks as high as FL-450
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 3):
The KC-135 can fly as high as FL-500.

Are those sorts of altitudes SOP for -135 crews?

Don't know if they are today with the KC-135R/T, but when I flew the KC-135A/E/Q, yes. We would often fly above FL-410 to save fuel.
 
747400sp
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RE: Drone Tanker Aircraft?

Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:18 am

A tanker Drone, that is interesting.

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