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Revelation
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U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:42 pm

http://aviationweek.com/defense/us-air- ... -airlifter is a great overview of current and future USAF tanker and airlifter needs.

IMHO the key paragraph is:

As Air Force planners now embark on the early stages of a process to acquire a new class of refuelers and airlifters over the next two decades, there is a clear emphasis on designs that overcome the vulnerability of existing aircraft to detection and interception. That potential shift in the requirements follows a new strategy of air warfare that transforms the role of mobility aircraft from a purely supporting one to an active part in combat operations as forward-based command-and-control nodes and even strike platforms.

The article makes it pretty clear that current "tube with wings" platforms are falling out of favor and stealthy approaches are now in vogue, starting with the Navy's MQ-25.

As for phasing out the current fleet:

In a briefing titled “The Next 50 Years of AMC,” Leonelli notes that the official service life for the Lockheed C-130 is estimated to end in 2065 and for the Boeing C-17 and Lockheed C-5 around 2070. The air-refueling fleet is similarly long-lived, with the Boeing KC-135 expected to fly until 2060 and the KC-46 to retire 20 years later.

Realizing such a century-spanning mobility fleet is a worst-case scenario for AMC planners. “God forbid,” Leonelli said. “We don’t want to hit those end zones by any stretch of the imagination.”

So the airframes have lots of life left in them, but the USAF planners view waiting that long to replace them is a worst case scenario.

And:

The original plan, unveiled a month before the KC-X contract signing in 2011, called for a follow-on KC-Y procurement, succeeded later by a KC-Z contract. Over the last seven years, the Air Force has deleted the KC-Y/Z nomenclature. The new acquisition program will be called the Advanced Aerial Refueler (AAR), says Leonelli.

So it seems the model that many have been working from, a smooth KC-Y follow-on contract that would have no choice but be for more KC-46s, is dead, at least in the minds of current Air Force planners.

I love the pristine way USAF views procurement, where they can draw up whatever plans they want and the taxpayers will gladly pay for it.

As for one of our favorite topics:

Air Force officials also are grappling with the airlift fleet implications of the Army’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV), a tactical system with growth requirements that may exceed the capabilities of the Lockheed Martin C-130J or the Boeing C-17 to support.

The baseline requirement for the NGCV calls for a weight of up to 40 tons, which significantly exceeds the 23-ton payload limit of the C-130J. The maximum payload for a C-17 is over 77 tons, but not if the aircraft needs to land on a short or unimproved runway. According to Leonelli, the C-17 may not be able to support the NGCV’s growth plan, which includes a chassis that can accommodate a vehicle weighing as much as 60 tons.

“This NGCV is supposed to be ideally suited for urban combat,” Leonelli says. “That’s going to be a challenge as we look at our next airlifter . . . unless we can change the way the Army thinks. How do you take something of that size in blacked-out operations at potentially high altitude on a short dirt, grass or unprepared strip of a couple thousand feet?”

That is such a classic line. The US Army wants a capability the USAF can't provide, so USAF proceeds to see if they cannot "change the way the Army thinks".

Pretty much as I predicted, the USAF expects it will be able to change the Army's mind and they're pretty much right, because the Army is ass when it comes to high tech weapons system procurement.

If the Army can sort itself out and justify getting what it wants, you can count on USAF using that requirement to get an all new transport that will "overcome the vulnerability of existing aircraft to detection and interception" and be "an active part in combat operations as forward-based command-and-control nodes and even strike platforms".

The A400M was not even mentioned in the article IMHO for the obvious reason: it's not even being considered. They are an example of the kind of platform that the USAF is trying to move away from.
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frmrCapCadet
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:49 pm

I have some question about 'stealth', the assumption seems to be that planes and ships become evermore 'stealthier', and detection will not become evermore sophisticated.
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Stitch
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:09 pm

Revelation wrote:
So it seems the model that many have been working from, a smooth KC-Y follow-on contract that would have no choice but be for more KC-46s, is dead, at least in the minds of current Air Force planners.


Many of us (myself included) were under the impression that KC-Y and KC-Z would be larger transports and tankers. KC-Y would logically have been the KC-10A Extender replacement, which could have been handled by the KC-45A / A330MRTT and KC-Z would have been the next step beyond that, which logically would have been based on the 777F or the 747-8. However, many of us felt the USAF would not be able to fund a second (or even third) platform and therefore that extra lift would have been handled by additional KC-46A (KC-X) purchases.

The improvement of the lethality of anti-air systems now appears to have made an even larger non-stealth platform a no-go as survivability in forward combat areas would be significantly reduced. So the move to stealth platforms that are better able to operate and survive in those environments. The most-likely baseline will be large Blended Wing Body (BWB) frames.


frmrCapCadet wrote:
I have some question about 'stealth', the assumption seems to be that planes and ships become evermore 'stealthier', and detection will not become evermore sophisticated.


I'd argue that the reason platforms are becoming stealthier is a reflection that detection improvements are constantly happening and need to be countered.
 
mxaxai
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:24 pm

Revelation wrote:
The A400M was not even mentioned in the article IMHO for the obvious reason: it's not even being considered. They are an example of the kind of platform that the USAF is trying to move away from.

If you mean "platforms smaller than the C-17", true. But if you mean "platforms that can deliver rather heavy payloads to small, unprepared runways", that is exactly what this wishlist seems to ask for. Well, part of it at least. And that had been the original idea behind the A400M.

To summarize:

Payload > 60 tons
Unprepared strips (weak spot of the C-17 & C-5)
"a couple 1000 ft" runway, i. e. STOL
Stealth
Command-and-Control
Strike Capabilities

Presumably also:

Decent Speed > M 0.7
TPAC Range

All on one platform! Basically an all-in-one replacement for the B-2, B-52, C-5, C-17, C-130, KC-135, KC-10 and KC-46. Obviously far beyond the scope of the A400M, or any other existing aircraft for that matter. Let's see what the result looks like, I'm excited!
 
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Revelation
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:03 pm

mxaxai wrote:
Revelation wrote:
The A400M was not even mentioned in the article IMHO for the obvious reason: it's not even being considered. They are an example of the kind of platform that the USAF is trying to move away from.

If you mean "platforms smaller than the C-17", true. But if you mean "platforms that can deliver rather heavy payloads to small, unprepared runways", that is exactly what this wishlist seems to ask for. Well, part of it at least. And that had been the original idea behind the A400M.

To summarize:

Payload > 60 tons
Unprepared strips (weak spot of the C-17 & C-5)
"a couple 1000 ft" runway, i. e. STOL
Stealth
Command-and-Control
Strike Capabilities

Presumably also:

Decent Speed > M 0.7
TPAC Range

All on one platform! Basically an all-in-one replacement for the B-2, B-52, C-5, C-17, C-130, KC-135, KC-10 and KC-46. Obviously far beyond the scope of the A400M, or any other existing aircraft for that matter. Let's see what the result looks like, I'm excited!

A400M would be a non-starter due to the "overcome the vulnerability of existing aircraft to detection and interception" requirement, even before you consider the politics.

I also think its STOL and soft runway characteristics would suffer with 60t payload in the belly.
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
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GalaxyFlyer
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:13 pm

I’m depressed! Another attempt to build an impossible mix of capabilities into one frame that will cost billions, perhaps trillions, and be years past the initial IOC and only serve to encourage politicians into thinking they’re capable of projecting power where they shouldn’t.

GF
 
DigitalSea
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:53 pm

America is placing too much confidence in fewer numbered, vastly more expensive, technologically superior platforms.
 
mxaxai
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:15 pm

Revelation wrote:
mxaxai wrote:
Revelation wrote:
The A400M was not even mentioned in the article IMHO for the obvious reason: it's not even being considered. They are an example of the kind of platform that the USAF is trying to move away from.

If you mean "platforms smaller than the C-17", true. But if you mean "platforms that can deliver rather heavy payloads to small, unprepared runways", that is exactly what this wishlist seems to ask for. Well, part of it at least. And that had been the original idea behind the A400M.

To summarize:

Payload > 60 tons
Unprepared strips (weak spot of the C-17 & C-5)
"a couple 1000 ft" runway, i. e. STOL
Stealth
Command-and-Control
Strike Capabilities

Presumably also:

Decent Speed > M 0.7
TPAC Range

All on one platform! Basically an all-in-one replacement for the B-2, B-52, C-5, C-17, C-130, KC-135, KC-10 and KC-46. Obviously far beyond the scope of the A400M, or any other existing aircraft for that matter. Let's see what the result looks like, I'm excited!

A400M would be a non-starter due to the "overcome the vulnerability of existing aircraft to detection and interception" requirement, even before you consider the politics.

I also think its STOL and soft runway characteristics would suffer with 60t payload in the belly.

I didn't mention politics at all. A400M is a non-starter due to the "40 - 60 ton NGCV" requirement already.

(Although 60 tons is less than the M1 Abrams, and I've never heard anyone complain about its weight. The C-17 should be able to carry the NGCV just fine.)
 
Ozair
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:02 pm

Revelation wrote:
The article makes it pretty clear that current "tube with wings" platforms are falling out of favor and stealthy approaches are now in vogue, starting with the Navy's MQ-25.

I’m still not convinced that a stealthy tanker platform is needed, at least as a wholesale replacement for the current fleet. Perhaps a subset to conduct forward refuelling but drone systems seem better positioned to fulfil that requirement.

Revelation wrote:
I love the pristine way USAF views procurement, where they can draw up whatever plans they want and the taxpayers will gladly pay for it.

Things change though. It you consider 7 years ago AMC was overworked and over focused on supporting Iraq/Afghanistan then you can see why the pendulum has shifted back to near peer ops.

Revelation wrote:
That is such a classic line. The US Army wants a capability the USAF can't provide, so USAF proceeds to see if they cannot "change the way the Army thinks".
Pretty much as I predicted, the USAF expects it will be able to change the Army's mind and they're pretty much right, because the Army is ass when it comes to high tech weapons system procurement.

Probably more about being realistic on what can be delivered by air to specific austere locations.

Revelation wrote:
The A400M was not even mentioned in the article IMHO for the obvious reason: it's not even being considered. They are an example of the kind of platform that the USAF is trying to move away from.

No surprise there. The standard combat vehicle weight has moved beyond A400M specifications. This could flow back to under that 37t the A400M can carry as active protection systems become viable and affordable but crew and IED protection makes that seem unlikely.

Stitch wrote:

The improvement of the lethality of anti-air systems now appears to have made an even larger non-stealth platform a no-go as survivability in forward combat areas would be significantly reduced. So the move to stealth platforms that are better able to operate and survive in those environments. The most-likely baseline will be large Blended Wing Body (BWB) frames.

I’d like to see how directed energy weapons fit into this construct. The potential exists for a larger aircraft with more power generation available to support larger longer ranged DEW that would provide significant self protection, especially against existing and emerging long range anti-air systems.
From a cost/performance benefit ratio there is likely more protection and performance in a platform that embraces active DEW protection* than passive stealth measures, especially for an air based tanker/transport.

*although I cringe at the World War Two parallel of believing machine gun armed B-17s/Lancasters etc could fly unescorted over Germany and the subsequent attrition that actually occurred.

mxaxai wrote:
If you mean "platforms smaller than the C-17", true. But if you mean "platforms that can deliver rather heavy payloads to small, unprepared runways", that is exactly what this wishlist seems to ask for. Well, part of it at least. And that had been the original idea behind the A400M.

To summarize:

Payload > 60 tons
Unprepared strips (weak spot of the C-17 & C-5)
"a couple 1000 ft" runway, i. e. STOL
Stealth
Command-and-Control
Strike Capabilities

Presumably also:

Decent Speed > M 0.7
TPAC Range

All on one platform! Basically an all-in-one replacement for the B-2, B-52, C-5, C-17, C-130, KC-135, KC-10 and KC-46. Obviously far beyond the scope of the A400M, or any other existing aircraft for that matter. Let's see what the result looks like, I'm excited!

C2 and strike capabilities seems pretty straight forward, especially as stealthy datalinks and hypersonic weapons emerge. Having a large node within the battlespace that controls and manages drone fleets, coordinates the air battle and perhaps strikes time sensitive targets makes a lot of sense. Using that same platform as a tanker doesn’t as it would directly take away from the previous mission sets. Perhaps a common platform is a better option with mission specific variants but I still see that as having too many trade-offs to allow it to accomplish all the mission roles effectively.
 
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keesje
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:00 am

Shouldn't it be VTOL too?

Developing operational requirements, costs, risks and time to market would play a role I guess.

Doesn't seem anything soon anyway.

Probably they'll just stick with new Herc's and the C17's

They'll last for decades to come.

The C17 can fit anything you could need and land on soft strips.

With the vunerable C130s, it must be the perfect combination. No need for anything else.

Apart from that I heard you cannot really combine the different roles.

As mentioned the A400M might be able to do bigger vehicles, soft terrain, STOL, fast, be a tanker, be available, low risk, but it isn't strike capable, or stealth.

https://youtu.be/-iLlOcGvV_g

W'll see what's offered.
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
angad84
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:24 am

Why not add a couple of LRS-B frames, gutted and modded for the gas-pass role?
 
mxaxai
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:56 am

Ozair wrote:
I’m still not convinced that a stealthy tanker platform is needed, at least as a wholesale replacement for the current fleet. Perhaps a subset to conduct forward refuelling but drone systems seem better positioned to fulfil that requirement.

I also wonder how stealthy a large tanker or transport can be. It's one thing to hide a single-crew fighter, but another to hide a 60-by-60 meter transport aircraft with a tank or bulldozer inside. Even the B-2, the largest stealth aircraft built to date, has relatively little internal volume for its wingspan.
Ozair wrote:
C2 and strike capabilities seems pretty straight forward, especially as stealthy datalinks and hypersonic weapons emerge. Having a large node within the battlespace that controls and manages drone fleets, coordinates the air battle and perhaps strikes time sensitive targets makes a lot of sense. Using that same platform as a tanker doesn’t as it would directly take away from the previous mission sets. Perhaps a common platform is a better option with mission specific variants but I still see that as having too many trade-offs to allow it to accomplish all the mission roles effectively.

There are several contradicting desires:
STOL means powerful engines and good low-speed handling. But a tanker or C2 hub would spend most of its time in cruise.
Unprepared strips need a sturdy landing gear, that'd be complete overkill on - again - a tanker that would never need that capability.
Both characteristics are great for tactical missions, but give a penalty on strategic missions. You will never be able to combine the flexibility and ruggedness of the C-130 with the payload-range and speed of the C-17 (or C-5).

I also doubt that you could have one fleet for all roles, although a common base model might be possible. You'd need at least different internal outfitting for each, like you already have many different variants of the C-130.
 
texl1649
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:07 pm

Drafting specs doesn’t mean issuing them. I assume they will wait to see what happens as far as what they need to transport, before entering a multi billion dollar acquisition cycle. The massive group of Army and Air Force staff officers around the pentagon should be able to figure that out within a few thousand meetings/powerpoints.
 
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keesje
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:43 am

texl1649 wrote:
Drafting specs doesn’t mean issuing them. I assume they will wait to see what happens as far as what they need to transport, before entering a multi billion dollar acquisition cycle. The massive group of Army and Air Force staff officers around the pentagon should be able to figure that out within a few thousand meetings/powerpoints.


I wonder what Airbus' approach will be, which of the large DoD contractors they will team up with. They will make sure an option of 200 intermediate, affordable low risk ships doing what C17/C130 can't do, starting deliveries in 4-5 years will be on the table. As a kind of low risk, combat proven down to earth scenario.

And probably not in powerpoint format, but sponsored RAF test / familiarization flight from MCAS Miramar.

Image
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texl1649
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:53 pm

I agree the A400M should be possible, but they're saying the specs are coming in so heavy/outsized, even a C-17 wouldn't have the rough field lift ability! (It's kind of insane how heavy this Army vehicle is sounding; how can an infantry/urban transport weigh nearly as much as an Abrams and be affordable/practical to buy/operate/transport?). These bids sound basically like small tanks with a compartment big enough to hold 6 members of an infantry squad. Ironically (or not, if considering transport via A400M, all three are based on Euro designs originally I believe (the GD one uses ASCOD Pizzaro, BAe CV90, Lynx is essentially a German design/powertrain). https://www.businessinsider.com/here-ar ... -forward-7

Finally, Airbus has thrown something like 30B Euro's at the thing, and to bid for any USAF spec it would have to partner with, say, NG again, but also re-engine it I would think. Would such an investment make sense for a bid after the KC-45 bid debacle, knowing what they'd know about likelihoods?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sing ... SKBN1FR19Y

Fair use:

He said the program had been plagued since its inception in 2003 with operational issues, a flawed contractual set-up and an insufficient budget, which had resulted in significant losses for the company.

“We have a good chance to stop or at least reduce the bleeding now and deliver the capabilities our customers need,” he said.

Airbus last year cited “huge losses” on the project and warned of “significant risks” ahead. The program was initially valued at 20 billion euros but its cost has ballooned to well over 30 billion, sources told Reuters last year.
 
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:28 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
I have some question about 'stealth', the assumption seems to be that planes and ships become evermore 'stealthier', and detection will not become evermore sophisticated.


armyrecognition wrote:
Hensoldt, the leading German sensor solutions provider, is presenting its passive radar system called “TwInvis” to the public for the first time in live operation during this year’s International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA) in Berlin.

https://www.armyrecognition.com/april_2 ... ation.html
Murphy is an optimist
 
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:49 pm

mxaxai wrote:
It's one thing to hide a single-crew fighter, but another to hide a 60-by-60 meter transport aircraft with a tank or bulldozer inside.


It's all relative. You do not need to make that Kenworth semi invisible. You just need it to look like a Prius. A BWB would be able reduce the radar cross section significantly even before you have to apply stealthy material or coatings.

Seems to me that in about a year, after Boeing verify it's improved digital manufacturing techniques with the T-X and Navy Drone, you will see them putting a plan together to make a "affordable" BW transport/tanker.

bt
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:30 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I’m depressed! Another attempt to build an impossible mix of capabilities into one frame that will cost billions, perhaps trillions, and be years past the initial IOC and only serve to encourage politicians into thinking they’re capable of projecting power where they shouldn’t.

GF


I'm still trying to figure out where they are going to get the money for all this.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:11 pm

That’s the depressing part—us!

A Combat AAR platform that’s stealthy should be easy, fuel is pretty dense.
GF
 
RKDFlier
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 4:54 pm

No mention of the KC10A. Any word on when they will be retired?
I never profesed to be perfict
 
texl1649
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:31 pm

I'm going to go out on a wing and say the last KC-10 will be the last Douglas Jet ever flown. The USAF had said they'd phase it out with KC-46's by 2019, but I'm dubious on the 1987 vintage trijets getting parked in the next 10 years.
 
mxaxai
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:17 pm

bikerthai wrote:
mxaxai wrote:
It's one thing to hide a single-crew fighter, but another to hide a 60-by-60 meter transport aircraft with a tank or bulldozer inside.


It's all relative. You do not need to make that Kenworth semi invisible. You just need it to look like a Prius. A BWB would be able reduce the radar cross section significantly even before you have to apply stealthy material or coatings.

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
A Combat AAR platform that’s stealthy should be easy, fuel is pretty dense.

A BWB's frontal crossection will be larger than, or at least similar to, that of a conventional aircraft, I believe. Unlike fuel, the typical outsized cargos that military transports are built for don't adjust themselves to the unusual shape of the cargo hold. You just can't turn that semi into a pancake. (Although I suppose you could find a way to fool radar nevertheless)
 
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bikerthai
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:53 pm

While aircraft frontal cross section does impact radar cross section, you can redirect a BWB radar signal better than a typical high wing transport with all the hanging engines, etc. But point taken, it looks to be easier to design a stealthy re-fueler than trying to incorporate a transport into the same air frame.

bt
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LMP737
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:22 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
That’s the depressing part—us!

A Combat AAR platform that’s stealthy should be easy, fuel is pretty dense.
GF


There are some Eisenhower quotes that come to mind.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:04 am

Well, the first order for a national government is the defense of the realm, but at what cost? The generals and the politicians tend to be in cahoots in gold plating everything. Generals for their post-service career, politicians to buy votes with the voters’ money. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Anyone who thinks either are not acting to their benefit needs to study up on public choice.

gf
 
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Revelation
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:41 am

keesje wrote:
They will make sure an option of 200 intermediate, affordable low risk ships doing what C17/C130 can't do, starting deliveries in 4-5 years will be on the table.

Dream on. It's already a non-starter. It's a clear example of the "vulnerability of existing aircraft to detection and interception".

bikerthai wrote:
While aircraft frontal cross section does impact radar cross section, you can redirect a BWB radar signal better than a typical high wing transport with all the hanging engines, etc.

Won't be hard to do better than a machine with four 17 meter diameter propellers with metallic leading edges...

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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:38 am

mxaxai wrote:
Revelation wrote:
The A400M was not even mentioned in the article IMHO for the obvious reason: it's not even being considered. They are an example of the kind of platform that the USAF is trying to move away from.

If you mean "platforms smaller than the C-17", true. But if you mean "platforms that can deliver rather heavy payloads to small, unprepared runways", that is exactly what this wishlist seems to ask for. Well, part of it at least. And that had been the original idea behind the A400M.

To summarize:

Payload > 60 tons
Unprepared strips (weak spot of the C-17 & C-5)
"a couple 1000 ft" runway, i. e. STOL
Stealth
Command-and-Control
Strike Capabilities

Presumably also:

Decent Speed > M 0.7
TPAC Range

All on one platform! Basically an all-in-one replacement for the B-2, B-52, C-5, C-17, C-130, KC-135, KC-10 and KC-46. Obviously far beyond the scope of the A400M, or any other existing aircraft for that matter. Let's see what the result looks like, I'm excited!


May as well give it a tailhook for good measure.
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:32 am

KFLLCFII wrote:
mxaxai wrote:
Revelation wrote:
The A400M was not even mentioned in the article IMHO for the obvious reason: it's not even being considered. They are an example of the kind of platform that the USAF is trying to move away from.

If you mean "platforms smaller than the C-17", true. But if you mean "platforms that can deliver rather heavy payloads to small, unprepared runways", that is exactly what this wishlist seems to ask for. Well, part of it at least. And that had been the original idea behind the A400M.

To summarize:

Payload > 60 tons
Unprepared strips (weak spot of the C-17 & C-5)
"a couple 1000 ft" runway, i. e. STOL
Stealth
Command-and-Control
Strike Capabilities

Presumably also:

Decent Speed > M 0.7
TPAC Range

All on one platform! Basically an all-in-one replacement for the B-2, B-52, C-5, C-17, C-130, KC-135, KC-10 and KC-46. Obviously far beyond the scope of the A400M, or any other existing aircraft for that matter. Let's see what the result looks like, I'm excited!

[photoid][/photoid]
May as well give it a tailhook for good measure.


:biggrin: and foldable wings.
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Noray
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:33 am

Revelation wrote:
keesje wrote:
They will make sure an option of 200 intermediate, affordable low risk ships doing what C17/C130 can't do, starting deliveries in 4-5 years will be on the table.

Dream on. It's already a non-starter. It's a clear example of the "vulnerability of existing aircraft to detection and interception".


"U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs". That's where the A400M was 30 years ago.

Revelation wrote:
Won't be hard to do better than a machine with four 17 meter diameter propellers with metallic leading edges...

17 feet, 5.3 meter. Even the Osprey has only 11.6 meter diameter rotors.
 
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:59 am

Noray wrote:
"U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs". That's where the A400M was 30 years ago.

Exactly! They're starting from a well known starting point:

Leonelli notes that the official service life for the Lockheed C-130 is estimated to end in 2065 and for the Boeing C-17 and Lockheed C-5 around 2070. The air-refueling fleet is similarly long-lived, with the Boeing KC-135 expected to fly until 2060 and the KC-46 to retire 20 years later.

So this isn't about an order that will happen before A400M runs out of actual orders that customers want (DE and ES have both tried selling machines they have on order) and Airbus tires of digesting losses on each one built.

Noray wrote:
17 feet, 5.3 meter. Even the Osprey has only 11.6 meter diameter rotors.

Thanks for the correction.
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:28 pm

I think that if you peel off all free of charge ambitions, FUD, greedy outlooks and moon shot technology, the armed forced want something that can quickly deploy light tank firepower / personnel carriers into remote places. Like their allies. And not for $500mln a pop in 2035.

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texl1649
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:30 pm

Agreed, but the definition of these “light” tanks has spiraled to 50 tons.
 
mxaxai
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:58 pm

keesje wrote:
And not for $500mln a pop in 2035.

Crazy as it may sound, but they seem to want exactly that. Or perhaps even later. This is at a similar stage as the FCAS, so EIS between 2035 and 2050 seems likely. There is no problem short term, but rather when the current fleet eventually gets too old. Low cost hasn't been a priority either, else they could just order more KC-46 to satisfy their transport & refueling needs. See the "restart C-17 production" thread. (plus a few tanker drones for the stealth aspect. I still don't think that stealth is a requirement for strategic transports)

Frankly, Keesje, the A400M is not the answer to this draft, nor do I expect Airbus (or any other european company) to make major contributions to it. Not because they or their products are bad, but because it's not what this is about. An off-the-shelf solution just won't cut it. This is about the US government funding long-term R&D in the United States, with the goal to have a platform custom tailored to their -and theirs first and foremost- army's needs; needs they are currently identifying.
 
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:26 pm

keesje wrote:
I think that if you peel off all free of charge ambitions, FUD, greedy outlooks and moon shot technology, the armed forced want something that can quickly deploy light tank firepower / personnel carriers into remote places. Like their allies. And not for $500mln a pop in 2035.

The Lynx IFV as offered to Australia is above 40 ton and a perfect example of a vehicle that won't be carried on an A400M.

mxaxai wrote:
keesje wrote:
And not for $500mln a pop in 2035.

Crazy as it may sound, but they seem to want exactly that. Or perhaps even later. This is at a similar stage as the FCAS, so EIS between 2035 and 2050 seems likely. There is no problem short term, but rather when the current fleet eventually gets too old. Low cost hasn't been a priority either, else they could just order more KC-46 to satisfy their transport & refueling needs. See the "restart C-17 production" thread. (plus a few tanker drones for the stealth aspect. I still don't think that stealth is a requirement for strategic transports)

Frankly, Keesje, the A400M is not the answer to this draft, nor do I expect Airbus (or any other european company) to make major contributions to it. Not because they or their products are bad, but because it's not what this is about. An off-the-shelf solution just won't cut it. This is about the US government funding long-term R&D in the United States, with the goal to have a platform custom tailored to their -and theirs first and foremost- army's needs; needs they are currently identifying.

Well said and common sense. The USAF transport segment is large enough that they can tailor requirements and new aircraft to their specific needs. I don't necessarily see Airbus excluded from bidding on that aircraft but almost certainly not as the prime.
 
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:44 pm

Reading the quotes in the opening posts, somehow the "requirements" in this post got out of hand. Reading back, it almost seems like we are trying to specify it away from a certain design. :biggrin:
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
Ozair
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:59 pm

keesje wrote:
Reading the quotes in the opening posts, somehow the "requirements" in this post got out of hand. Reading back, it almost seems like we are trying to specify it away from a certain design. :biggrin:

No, as already pointed out to you numerous times IFV/AFV vehicle weights are going up, primarily because of protection levels. Had the A400M concept been started in the middle 2000s I expect the payload would have been closer to 45t and not 37t to counter the expected weight increase that modern IED awareness has brought.
 
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:54 pm

keesje wrote:
Reading the quotes in the opening posts, somehow the "requirements" in this post got out of hand. Reading back, it almost seems like we are trying to specify it away from a certain design. :biggrin:

If anything, your posting history in this thread and others shows you trying to fit every square A400M into every round hole you can find.
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Get rid of the expensive stealth requirements

Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:26 am

If the USAF wants stealth in an airlifter, the A-400M or C-130J with thier 4 huge radar reflectors won't cut it.
If you want to carry a 40 + tonne NGCV, the A-400M and C-130J won't cut it.

What the USAF is looking for is an An-70/An-112KC type airplane with either the four counter-rotating props, or the two hi-bypass turbo-fan jet engines to fill the role to carry the Army's NGCV.

But I doubt the An-70 or An-112 is in consideration. It still doesn't meet the stealth requirement.

A USAF developed trash hauler that could carry the NGCV would need TATL range at full load, or have air refueling capability. It would needs lots of wheels, like many Russian transports to be able to operate from dirt or grass runways ( a very durable stealth shape or coating is needed to prevent FOD damage). Hi-lift wing devices and 2 or 4 powerful engines with thrust reverse capability are a must. Payload capability needs to be 45-50 tonnes.

So what you are looking for a is a shape like a B-2, flying wing or BWB (larger than the B-2 or B-21) with engines mounted atop the wing for FOD protection, and lots of wheels.

The tanker is a different story. It will loose its stealth characteristics once you deploy the boom or hose and drogue. Yes, you can cover the boom or the hose with angled shapes to deflect radar, but you still have the basket and the ruddervators/boom control surfaces reflecting radar beams telling the bad guys, "hello a tanker and receiver is here" like a big flashing neon sign. Those little bumps or recesses for the cameras compromise stealth, too.
 
LMP737
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:10 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Well, the first order for a national government is the defense of the realm, but at what cost? The generals and the politicians tend to be in cahoots in gold plating everything. Generals for their post-service career, politicians to buy votes with the voters’ money. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Anyone who thinks either are not acting to their benefit needs to study up on public choice.

gf


You have to wonder how many program managers, i.e. generals/admirals, made program decisions based on post retirement careers and not based on needs of the service or tax payers.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:51 am

LMP737 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Well, the first order for a national government is the defense of the realm, but at what cost? The generals and the politicians tend to be in cahoots in gold plating everything. Generals for their post-service career, politicians to buy votes with the voters’ money. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Anyone who thinks either are not acting to their benefit needs to study up on public choice.

gf


You have to wonder how many program managers, i.e. generals/admirals, made program decisions based on post retirement careers and not based on needs of the service or tax payers.


This is illegal in the US, although many have tried. One of these cost Boeing huge, still has some repercussions - the Miss Darleen Drunyun affair.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darleen_Druyun
 
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:49 am

LMP737 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Well, the first order for a national government is the defense of the realm, but at what cost? The generals and the politicians tend to be in cahoots in gold plating everything. Generals for their post-service career, politicians to buy votes with the voters’ money. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Anyone who thinks either are not acting to their benefit needs to study up on public choice.

gf


You have to wonder how many program managers, i.e. generals/admirals, made program decisions based on post retirement careers and not based on needs of the service or tax payers.

One general was a big part of the outrageous KC-45 decision, and after delivering the goods he retired and went to work for Airbus.

However, karma caught up to him, at least a little bit.
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keesje
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:26 pm

Looking at the current and planned list of vehicles, a list of MGS's, Cougar, MRAP's and tracked vehicles share the fact they fit in C130s.

Image

The C-17 are expensive, heavy, not tactical and out of production for a rea$on). And this hasn't been the first time the DoD / Army addressed this. Over the last 10-15 years there has been a series of RFI's, programs and studies. The "Fat Herc", C-17B and various powerpoints didn't result in anything. I remember first discussing the A400M with kc135topboom, a while ago. (Good to have you back TB, from Dallas? :bigthumbsup: ) https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1019919
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:47 pm

keesje wrote:
The C-17 are expensive, heavy, not tactical and out of production for a rea$on.

The C-17s were expensive but are now paid for. A400Ms are still expensive.

Both suffer from "the vulnerability of existing aircraft to detection and interception".

C17 is out of production because their primary customer, USAF, has all they need going forward, and in fact Congress bought the USAF more than they requested.

And this hasn't been the first time the DoD / Army addressed this. Over the last 10-15 years there has been a series of RFI's, programs and studies. The "Fat Herc", C-17B and various powerpoints didn't result in anything. I remember first discussing the A400M with kc135topboom, a while ago. (Good to have you back TB, from Dallas? :bigthumbsup: ) https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1019919

You do understand it is some people's jobs to make projections for the time after the current generation of stuff is used up, and it's other people's jobs to present their company's offerings to such people, and most often these things do not "result in anything", right?
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:27 pm

Revelation wrote:
C17 is out of production because their primary customer, USAF, has all they need going forward, and in fact Congress bought the USAF more than they requested.


Totally unthinkable in Europe, but that's another story.

Anyway LM, Boeing, NG and the others didn't develop anything new over the last 30 years. While requirements changed dramatically. I'm pretty sure that if one of them had developed something with the capabilities of a 40t big cabin tactical transport, an assembly line would be humming in Marietta, Seattle or Long Beech. Apparently internal / political cash cow / job security mechanisms prevented that from happening.

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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:54 pm

keesje wrote:
Anyway LM, Boeing, NG and the others didn't develop anything new over the last 30 years.

LM, Boeing, NG and the others have developed lots over the last three decades, things that put them in a great position to address "the vulnerability of existing aircraft to detection and interception".

keesje wrote:
While requirements changed dramatically. I'm pretty sure that if one of them had developed something with the capabilities of a 40t big cabin tactical transport, an assembly line would be humming in Marietta, Seattle or Long Beech. Apparently internal / political cash cow / job security mechanisms prevented that from happening.

Apparently? I don't see it. Feel free to present evidence that "internal / political cash cow / job security mechanisms prevented an assembly line of a 40t big cabin tactical transport humming in Marietta, Seattle or Long Beech". We'll wait.

IMHO it's pretty clear the US has addressed its needs in a far more complete way than most nations (while also developing two different fifth generation fighters while Europe has developed zero) :

Leonelli notes that the official service life for the Lockheed C-130 is estimated to end in 2065 and for the Boeing C-17 and Lockheed C-5 around 2070. The air-refueling fleet is similarly long-lived, with the Boeing KC-135 expected to fly until 2060 and the KC-46 to retire 20 years later.

... and is now starting the process of deciding what is needed for a new generation of transports after the big spends on F-35, KC-46, B-21, etc wind down.

I've read the article, and a 2000s vintage "40t big cabin tactical transport" tube with wings and four big propeller turboprops was not mentioned, although it's a good bet that everyone in the room knew of one. Feel free to clarify.
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:37 pm

Revelation wrote:
I've read the article, and a 2000s vintage "40t big cabin tactical transport" tube with wings and four big propeller turboprops was not mentioned,


Philosophically, I believe they (industry and government) think that the manufacturing technology have advanced enough to make a stealthy/semi-stealthy transport possible. Smart folks at both LM and Boeing have been on their own figuring out how to make BWB transport work from the aerodynamic, loading/logistics etc. stand point. I see this Air Force development is just a vehicle to put the stake down and see if what they can come up with. There will be hurdles of course, but in a few years we will see how the Navy's stealth tanker fare and if Boeing can meet the cost requirements of the T-X. If these two program goes well, then I can see a good possibility that a new "semi-affordable" tanker/transport program gets kicked off.

bt
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DigitalSea
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:05 pm

I wonder if they would incorporate Plasma Actuators into a future transport/tanker?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:27 pm

JayinKitsap wrote:
LMP737 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Well, the first order for a national government is the defense of the realm, but at what cost? The generals and the politicians tend to be in cahoots in gold plating everything. Generals for their post-service career, politicians to buy votes with the voters’ money. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Anyone who thinks either are not acting to their benefit needs to study up on public choice.

gf


You have to wonder how many program managers, i.e. generals/admirals, made program decisions based on post retirement careers and not based on needs of the service or tax payers.


This is illegal in the US, although many have tried. One of these cost Boeing huge, still has some repercussions - the Miss Darleen Drunyun affair.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darleen_Druyun


When I was still a serving officer, I went to an AFA annual meeting. Amazing how many senior officers now wearing suits and working for well-known contractors were there selling their wares. Yes, it’s illegal, but if you’re serving in a contracting acquisitions area and retiring, you’ll have a JAG advising what post-service jobs are ethical and which aren’t. Mostly it relates to how close the contractor is to your work. She was an exception
 
WIederling
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:43 pm

DigitalSea wrote:
I wonder if they would incorporate Plasma Actuators into a future transport/tanker?


Is there actually any short term real world application in view for those?
Murphy is an optimist
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: U.S. Air Force Begins Drafting Specs For Next Air Refueler, Airlifter

Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:33 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
LMP737 wrote:

You have to wonder how many program managers, i.e. generals/admirals, made program decisions based on post retirement careers and not based on needs of the service or tax payers.


This is illegal in the US, although many have tried. One of these cost Boeing huge, still has some repercussions - the Miss Darleen Drunyun affair.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darleen_Druyun


When I was still a serving officer, I went to an AFA annual meeting. Amazing how many senior officers now wearing suits and working for well-known contractors were there selling their wares. Yes, it’s illegal, but if you’re serving in a contracting acquisitions area and retiring, you’ll have a JAG advising what post-service jobs are ethical and which aren’t. Mostly it relates to how close the contractor is to your work. She was an exception


I worked at NAVFAC for a number of years back in the 80's. Saw many a Captain or Commander try and feather their future nest. The basic line was that working for a contractor associated with your expertise is acceptable, but one cannot represent the contractor in any form with the government office one worked in for I think was 3 years. They could be behind the scenes, or represent the contractor in work for a different command. For example someone with DOD involved with the F-35 contract, could work for LM on the F-35 but not be signing or negotiating change orders. They could be involved with technical or even contract work but it needs to be behind the scenes. That same person could not work for Boeing and interact with the DOD office he was in for the 3 year period. There was a lot of angry gossip at NAVFAC about those officers that bent the rules. One captain went to work for firm that did QC work on NAVFAC projects, he sold the company's services as if they had an inside track and could let the contractor get away with poor work. A few years of that and most contractors would not touch this firm, as the NAVFAC office would not let anything slip by with that firm - true hate of this officer at his old command.

It is a problem that is quite difficult for the government to control, but really needs to.

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