|Quoting Ptrjong (Reply 1):
Widening, rather than lengthening a fuselage is easier studied than done though...
It can be done. What it may all boil down to, though, is at what price? The only other current viable option, the A400M, is by no means a cheap bird. So the value proposition is going to be the cost of fattening the C-130 vs. the cost of acquiring a mid-sized lifter (e.g., A400M), the cost of introducing a completely new model into the USAF
inventory, minus any cost-savings benefits/performance advantages it brings to flying the same mission as the C-130XWB. Not to mention the comparative operating costs of the two models over their lifespan, but I don't think that will be as big a factor (this is, after all, the USAF
and not a commercial airline operation).
The article was interesting in that it mentions the following:
One is to partner the army to develop an all-new airlifter for delivery after 2021. A notional development programme called Joint Future Theatre Lift, emphasising either vertical or super-short take-off and access to austere airstrips, is in the planning stages.
Obviously, if they move forward with that program, neither the C-130XWB nor A400M would suffice. And that is what I said in the other thread on the C-17B: if/when the USAF
decides to address the gap in its lift capabilities then it may just order up a spec-to-build airframe. Let the competition begin!
[Edited 2008-09-08 09:35:05]