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Re-engining C-5s, B-52s; MD-11 Tanker

Tue Mar 07, 2000 8:54 am

These jets are quite elderly, but they both still have long service lives ahead of them. I know that the C-5 is getting an upgraded digital "glass" cockpit from Collins (I might have the manufacturer wrong). When you consider how much it would cost to design new aircraft to replace them, the economics of upgrading make sense. Also, what do you think the MD-11's potential to be a tanker/transport similiar to the KC-10 is? I'd like to know.

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RE: Re-engining C-5s, B-52s; MD-11 Tanker

Tue Mar 07, 2000 10:54 am

The MD-11 was -seriously- considered as an additional tanker/airlift model for the USAF but the idea was dropped. A designator number given as "KC-10B" for this model was brought up several times. It featured the strengthened floor and cargo handling of the KC-10A with a much more massive fuel offload/carry capability. At the time it was being considered, the C-17 was in a state of doubt and the fleet in service then was just entering into a period of strain.

Air Mobility Command, (then Military Airlift Command) was looking at several "off the shelf" airlifters like this one and a modified 747-400F model. (Of the 747-400F proposal, 12 models were being considered, 6 each at Travis AFB and Dover AFB respectively.) The primary mission for these "off the shelf models" were to handle channel AMC flights moving pre-planned cargo movement like military household goods, maintenance parts and so forth to overseas US bases. Post-Gulf War there was a -very serious- airlift shortfall with the C-141B operating under restrictions due to severe wing cracking outboard of the #1 and #4 engine pylons, which restricted altitude, payload, range and speed.

Add to that a remarkable uptick in overseas deployments after the Gulf and the result was pretty dire. I wont forget it. It worked out by contracting movement of channel frieght using air freight carriers like Southern Air, Konnie Kalitta, International CharterXpress, etc. This bought some valuable time and flexibility.
The C-141B fleet was fixed, overseas deployments eased -slightly-, the C-17 enters service at KCHS. Things started to settle down. So the idea to buy "off the shelf" airliners like the 744/MD-11 was then put to bed. I dont expect to see an MD-11 wear AMC grey, but it almost happened.

As for engine upgrades, it's very possible the C5 -could- receive a CF680 engine upgrade. Depends on weight and of course -cost- (G) The B-52 has also been the subject of engine upgrade studies to include PW,GE and even RR powerplants.


RE: Re-engining C-5s, B-52s; MD-11 Tanker

Tue Mar 07, 2000 11:59 am

The remaining P&W TF-33 powered B-52H models are to be re-engined with the same RR engines used on the 757. I believe the Air Force is contracting Allison to license build these engines for conversion to a four-engine B-52.
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Tue Mar 07, 2000 12:05 pm

The Air Force has not contracted to re-engine the B52's. There have been studies, and it appears to be the wise move, but nothing has been funded yet. Hopefully it will be. I personally think it would be wise to use the PW2043 instead of the RB211E4B as the PW2043 is already on the C17, so in theory, it should simplify spares acquisition, cost, and storage, as well as possibly lowering the cost of all PW's for the C17's and B-52's. The improved readiness and dispatch reliability of the C5 with new GE's, PW's, etc. coupled with the new avionics suite looks like a great program. There however is not enough money for all of these programs, so which would you pick?


Tue Mar 07, 2000 9:22 pm

Thanks for correcting me on that, I am in the NY Air National Guard and we get the AF Times newspaper every week. I remember seeing an article last year about the B-52 re-engining project where they were looking at the RR engine used on the 757. They were looking at having Allison license build them just like they did with the turbofan engine used in the Vought A-7D Corsair II attack jet which was a license built RR Spey.
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Tue Mar 07, 2000 10:53 pm

I didn't know that about the Allison license build. That's good to know. Where are you located with the Air Guard?


Wed Mar 08, 2000 12:46 am

109th Airlift Wing, NYANG
Schenectady NY

Our unit was responsible for airlifting that female doctor with breast cancer from the South Pole a few months ago. We are the only military unit that flies the LC-130 Skibird.

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