Ozair
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USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:20 pm

The USAF has released a pre-solicitation notice regarding a potential replacement for the E-4B. While the FlightGlobal article talks about the 747-8 as a potential option I think a smaller airframe may now be a better option. I would think a 787-9/10 or 777 (either W or 9) may be a better option and likely more maintainable over the expected operating life. You would also think that the internal systems could be reduced enough in size to suit a smaller airframe.

Noting the USAF will be operating a 747-8 as AF1 anyway perhaps it makes sense to go that way from a commonality standpoint but it just seems more jet than is required for the job.

USAF searches for Boeing E-4B aerial command center replacement

The US Air Force (USAF) has started searching for a new airborne command, control and communications operations center to replace the Boeing E-4B, and the service is asking US defence manufacturers for input.

The Survivable Airborne Operations Center Weapon System (SAOC WS) is to replace the legacy E-4B National Airborne Operations Center, a militarised version of the 1970s-era Boeing 747-200 commercial airliner, which is approaching the end of its service life, according to a USAF pre-solicitation notice posted online 4 December.

...

The USAF has four E-4Bs in its fleet. The service is looking for its next SAOC WS to be based on a commercial derivative aircraft as well.

...

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... er-462719/
 
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kanban
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:47 pm

Given that so much of the hardware on the old planes can now be packed in a tablet or cell phone, a 737 Max with aerial refueling capability should do the job. On the other hand because the Air Force is so conservative, there is no reason a fleet of 747-8 F's could not be adapted. who needs windows anyway. put the brass in lay-flat modules and virtual reality head sets.
 
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kc135topboom
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 12:23 am

The E-4B carries over 100 crew and its floor space provides conference rooms, sleeping quarters, a galley and dining facility, as well as all of its electronic and communications equipment. The E-4s require a tremendous amount of electrical generating capability. The lower cargo compartments are occupied inflight, the aft one contains the 5 mile long trailing wire antenna (TWA), reel, deployment equipment, control station and operators.

The B-747-8I would be a possible replacement, as would the A-380-800. But I would say the B-748 has the advantage because it has already been selected as the VC-25B for the USAF. The B-777-300ER/-9, B-787-10, or A-350-1000 could also be considered. Of course what ever airplane is selected would need an air refueling capability.
 
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Slug71
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 12:32 am

My guess is for the 767 which will also replace the C-32.

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/1 ... e-new-type

https://www.defenseone.com/business/201 ... es/138269/

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... -3-450842/

As you can see by the links, theres been talk for some time to consolidate the 3 frames. I think the 767 makes the most sense unless Boeing wants to begin development on hardening the 787 for military ops. Using the would be most cost effective though.

The NC-135, WC-135, OC-135, and RC-135 will all need replacement at some point too. The WC-135 and OC-135 can probably be consolidated into the same airframe.
But these can probably be migrated over to the 767 too. I think a 787 will be too big for these. A 737 frame would probably even work.
 
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kc135topboom
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:05 am

Replacing the E-6s and VC-32s just doesn't make any sense. Both these aircraft are mid-life airplanes. What needs to be replaced are the RC/NC/WC/NKC/OC-135s and the E-8s. All of these can be replaced by a KC-46 derivative. The E-6s and VC-32s can be replaced by a KC-46 derivative towards the end of the 2020s and early 2030s.

I doubt a KC-46 derivative could replace the E-4s, which is what needs to be replaced. Adding the VC-32s and E-6s is just the 'new airplane syndrome', a waste of money at this point.

Keep the taxpayers in mind, they will be paying for these airplanes.
 
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:12 am

The search begins for used 747-8i planes. I'm sure a half dozen could be rounded up, cheaper than doing new, in particular if Triumph has actually stopped production of structures.
 
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kc135topboom
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:19 am

JayinKitsap wrote:
The search begins for used 747-8i planes. I'm sure a half dozen could be rounded up, cheaper than doing new, in particular if Triumph has actually stopped production of structures.


I doubt you will find many used B-747-8s. Everyone who has them are using them.

But how many white tail B-747-8Is are sitting around in the desert?
 
Buckeyetech
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:36 am

I have no doubt the USAF will be able to fit all they need in an airframe the size of a 767.
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:19 am

kc135topboom wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
The search begins for used 747-8i planes. I'm sure a half dozen could be rounded up, cheaper than doing new, in particular if Triumph has actually stopped production of structures.


I doubt you will find many used B-747-8s. Everyone who has them are using them.

But how many white tail B-747-8Is are sitting around in the desert?


Not yet, but there are 45 8i's (not counting VC-25B's), someday KE or LH will retire some of their fleet, certainly not now but 4 to 5 years out.
I think there is a big Zero white tails in the desert.

With Triumph closing down the 747 structures line it would be very difficult (and costly) to do any new frames in small quantity.
 
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Slug71
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:13 am

kc135topboom wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
The search begins for used 747-8i planes. I'm sure a half dozen could be rounded up, cheaper than doing new, in particular if Triumph has actually stopped production of structures.


I doubt you will find many used B-747-8s. Everyone who has them are using them.

But how many white tail B-747-8Is are sitting around in the desert?


No aerial refueling for 747-8 though. At least not for the VC-25Bs. So unless they want to develop it specially for the E-4b replacement.... The KC-46 has it.
 
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:29 pm

JayinKitsap wrote:
The search begins for used 747-8i planes.


Why 747-8i? I mean the seat tracks may make it easy to design the interiors, but if push comes to shove, wouldn't a 747-8F works just as well?

747-8, 767-46 and A330 are good candidates as EMI shielding designs are already done.

bt
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JayinKitsap
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:10 pm

bikerthai wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
The search begins for used 747-8i planes.


Why 747-8i? I mean the seat tracks may make it easy to design the interiors, but if push comes to shove, wouldn't a 747-8F works just as well?

747-8, 767-46 and A330 are good candidates as EMI shielding designs are already done.

bt


For a true E-4B replacement isn't the pax interior needed for packs, windows, longer upper deck, and cabin wall trim. It also matches the VC-25B for commonality. Does the -8F have packs and heat to maintain the cabin. I would assume it does but to just prevent freezing within.

For most of these planes a KC-46 with the tanker equipment would be very good, as electronics are much smaller a P-8 variant would be far more economical. They have been tested for EMI shielding.

as Top Boom noted
The E-4B carries over 100 crew and its floor space provides conference rooms, sleeping quarters, a galley and dining facility, as well as all of its electronic and communications equipment. The E-4s require a tremendous amount of electrical generating capability. The lower cargo compartments are occupied inflight, the aft one contains the 5 mile long trailing wire antenna (TWA), reel, deployment equipment, control station and operators.
 
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:06 pm

JayinKitsap wrote:
kc135topboom wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
The search begins for used 747-8i planes. I'm sure a half dozen could be rounded up, cheaper than doing new, in particular if Triumph has actually stopped production of structures.


I doubt you will find many used B-747-8s. Everyone who has them are using them.

But how many white tail B-747-8Is are sitting around in the desert?


Not yet, but there are 45 8i's (not counting VC-25B's), someday KE or LH will retire some of their fleet, certainly not now but 4 to 5 years out.
I think there is a big Zero white tails in the desert.

With Triumph closing down the 747 structures line it would be very difficult (and costly) to do any new frames in small quantity.


I am sure if the USAF does a nice offer, - or not so nice but adequate one - LH or KE will be happy to depart with one or two.
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texl1649
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:24 pm

Vastly decreased power should be needed in the future with modern gear, and there’s no need for the big conference room/100 people on board either. Finally, does aerial refueling really matter at this point? If AF1 doesn’t have it, why does the E-4 platform need it for endless hours? If the USAF can’t find a working airfield in 18 hours for it’s comm platform the world has real problems that might not be solved via KC-135’s.

The average suburban American home has more bandwidth than the USAF envisioned was possible with the original E-4.
 
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:06 pm

AFAIK, there are only two 747-8i stored frames:

    N828BA 747-830 c/n 37826, the Lufthansa ntu frame when they reduced their order for 20 to 19, in storage at VCV for over five years.
    N458BJ 747-8JA(BBJ) c/n 40065, originally BBJ for the late Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, in storage at BSL since 2012.

The other two white tails were picked up by USAF for presidential flight.
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sat Dec 07, 2019 2:38 am

JayinKitsap wrote:
For a true E-4B replacement isn't the pax interior needed for packs, windows, longer upper deck, and cabin wall trim. It also matches the VC-25B for commonality. Does the -8F have packs and heat to maintain the cabin. I would assume it does but to just prevent freezing within.


Don't the F have to Cary livestock? Lack of windows makes it easier to shield. Typically, they the strip off the interiors and ceiling panels any way to make more room for wire routing down the fuselage.

I would agree that from a commonality stand point, a 767 would be a better choice.

bt
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timh4000
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sat Dec 07, 2019 2:47 am

Technically the 747-8i is still considered to be in production. Although I think it would be just as easy to configure the F. The modifications on the current VC-25 fleet each plane has more cost for conversion than the initial cost of the plane itself. So either configuring the 8i or the F cost wise I don't think would differ much, it would just be a matter of which one would be easier and coming off the line I don't think there would be a radical difference.

Although I agree technically they could possibly drop down in size to a 787, I will be real surprised if they do. The only other plane I can see them using would be a 777x.

When it comes to the POTUS which there are scenarios in which he would board an E4B if the real deal should actually happen, either way, I believe they still like the redundancy of 4 engines. The current 747 VC has landed at ALB. Granted it likely was not at its or a standard 747 max landing weight, I'm willing to felt it that it busted ALB's max landing weight, and they probably didn't charge for the penalty either.

Since they won't come anywhere near the truth on these things with all the articles, videos etc.etc... they just dabble in some of the more obvious extras. In one article I read one of Clinton's advisors said that the engines on those planes are far more powerful than the typical 747 engine. That has been proven on a couple of occasions. During 9/11, taking off from florida, the take off has been described as nothing anyone had experienced in an airliner before. Words like stood on its tail, the acceleration down the runway with its version of toga, or military power. It had probably a 30 and possibly more degree deck angle all the way up to fl450. And it got there in a hurry. When Bush received fighter air support, our fighters had to keep refueling or new ones sent up as the old 747-200 maintained mach 0.95. They are going to want the same performance from the E-4B.

Just because the government and the DOD makes statements such as the EC-135 looking glass no longer operates 24-7 and that we had an E-4B up at least most or all of the time, as well as nuke loaded bombers in the air (they might be the b-1b or the b-2 now)or that currently there are no B1-B's with nuclear mission capability... I wouldn't bet the ante on any of it.

It's been said the next VC-25 will NOT have refueling capability, we'll see. It is possible that they feel after 20hrs in the air there won't be a need to keep it up there as the war will already be over, but- we have numerous new nuclear scenarios then we did at the height of the cold war. Which is why I take what they say about any of these planes and their missions with a huge grain of salt. I do expect that the next E4B will be a 747, modified to such a degree it isn't going to anywhere close to an 8i or an F
 
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:47 am

bikerthai wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
For a true E-4B replacement isn't the pax interior needed for packs, windows, longer upper deck, and cabin wall trim. It also matches the VC-25B for commonality. Does the -8F have packs and heat to maintain the cabin. I would assume it does but to just prevent freezing within.


Don't the F have to Cary livestock? Lack of windows makes it easier to shield. Typically, they the strip off the interiors and ceiling panels any way to make more room for wire routing down the fuselage.

I would agree that from a commonality stand point, a 767 would be a better choice.

bt


Yes, freighters do carry livestock. They do have conditioning systems, but some lower holds only have heat, no cooling. The big issue is the volume of outside air brought in, in buildings it is roughly 10 CFM per person, but if CO2 sensors are added to the controls this can drop to 3 or 4 CFM. Absent a large volume of humans or animals, air only needs to be supplied in sufficient quantity to maintain cabin pressure ( 8,000 ft) and temperature. From what I saw on a lookup the cargo bay can be set from 40 to 65 F for heating, didn't find a cooling one but the safe shipping of animals places both low and high temperature limits.

Does anyone know what are on say 767 converted freighters.
 
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:15 pm

texl1649 wrote:
Vastly decreased power should be needed in the future with modern gear, and there’s no need for the big conference room/100 people on board either. Finally, does aerial refueling really matter at this point?

timh4000 wrote:
Although I agree technically they could possibly drop down in size to a 787, I will be real surprised if they do. The only other plane I can see them using would be a 777x. [.....] They are going to want the same performance from the E-4B.

So...wouldn't the 778X be a good compromise? With all the space and power they'd ever need...plus performance and range that obviates the IFR requirement. They would just have to wait for the outcome of Project Sunrise to piggyback on that. For a more future-proof solution, one of the BWB concepts under development might be applicable.
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timh4000
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:29 pm

Well, I did say that if they went with the 777x I won't be surprised , like you said its abilities make it a great candidate. My reason for the 747 over it is the redundancy of 4 engines
 
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sat Dec 07, 2019 2:30 pm

Cooling would not be an issue as any modification will require significant increase in cooling capacity for all the electronic gear. Sizing the system to include the carbon based life forms would be part of the SOW.

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NameOmitted
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:46 pm

If fleet commonality is a goal, the AWACS fleet will need to be replaced around 2035, and much of the engineering has been done for an eventual 767 replacement (E-767)
 
mikezc128
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 2:35 am

For a E-4 replacement, I think the 747-8i would be the best candidate. Four engines would be best for the mission it is designed for. Also, should have aerial refueling as in a doomsday scenario, I would think you want the option to be aloft for as long as possible and relying on 4 engines.
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 6:25 am

NameOmitted wrote:
If fleet commonality is a goal, the AWACS fleet will need to be replaced around 2035, and much of the engineering has been done for an eventual 767 replacement (E-767)


If you are referring to the 767Awacs that Japan is flying, that is old tech. Any new AEW&C based on the 767 will start almost from scratch.

The latest radar tech is now on the 737 AEW&C of which the UK will be getting a hand full. Unfortunately, the US Air Force is still pushing for distributed, un-manned and space platform.

bt
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 6:33 am

Repeated the above comment on project sunrise.

bt
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Ozair
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 8:04 am

bikerthai wrote:
NameOmitted wrote:
If fleet commonality is a goal, the AWACS fleet will need to be replaced around 2035, and much of the engineering has been done for an eventual 767 replacement (E-767)


If you are referring to the 767Awacs that Japan is flying, that is old tech. Any new AEW&C based on the 767 will start almost from scratch.

The latest radar tech is now on the 737 AEW&C of which the UK will be getting a hand full. Unfortunately, the US Air Force is still pushing for distributed, un-manned and space platform.

bt

I don't think the USAF looking for an alternative is unfortunate. The legacy constructs of AWACS and JSTARS simply aren't survivable in a modern airwar with a near peer adversary.

In a 5th gen world the network lives on with communication between platforms and the planned low earth constellations. The AEW&C picture is fused across the network and, with sufficient doctrine and training, the assets prosecute the war with local autonomy.

The mosaic construct that is the future maximizes platform strengths and turns the focus onto to effecta. The value is what effect can be produced, not the respective platform delivering the effect.
 
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:31 am

Ozair wrote:
I don't think the USAF looking for an alternative is unfortunate. The legacy constructs of AWACS and JSTARS simply aren't survivable in a modern airwar with a near peer adversary.


"Unfortunate" from a philosophical stand point for those who are fans of the AEW&C.

Also unfortunate for the principle of combined arm where you have multiple types of platforms in case the future battle space doesn't turn out to be as one predicts.

But we all must live within our budgets. . .

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Devilfish
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 12:11 pm

bikerthai wrote:
If you are referring to the 767Awacs that Japan is flying, that is old tech. Any new AEW&C based on the 767 will start almost from scratch.

The latest radar tech is now on the 737 AEW&C of which the UK will be getting a hand full.

If the 778X is still too much platform for the mission and the KC-46 a bit on the small end, how about the re-engined 764MAX rumored as a freighter :?: May be a tad shy on performance but could be more adaptable to EMP shielding than the CFRP 787. Plus it could be built on the tanker line.
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 12:53 pm

The 747-8F (or -I) is IMHO the prime candidate for a future E-4B replacement.

- The flightdeck avionics suite and GEnx-2B engine installation will be already EMI shielded and adapted for military operation for the VC-25B
- Electronic counter measure equipment and/or AAR protection has already been or will be developed for the VC-25B
- Seen the current production of only 747-8F aircraft a slightly modified 747-8F frame (without nose door ?) will be perfectly suited as a future "green " E-4C airframe.
- No windows (or only at a few at tactical locations) will improve electronic shielding.
- All 747-8F aircraft are standard equipped with 3 airconditioning packs and even 4 packs can be installed , when needed for avionics cooling.
- Four (4) engines can provide more electrical power, when needed two generators/engine like the current E-4B are possible.
- Lower cargo compartments can also been fully airco controlled, when needed.
- Operation and maintenance of both VC-25B aircraft and a small fleet of E-4C aircraft can be combined, creating a fleet of around 6 aircraft, reducing flight crew costs, maintenance costs and spare parts.
- As part of the E-4C deal it would be advisable to include for future structural spare parts the last Boeing owned 747-8I (L/N 1435 ,c/n 37826, Lufthansa ntu).
- Seen the recent decline in the cargo market a possible deal could be made by purchasing the remaining Air Bridge Cargo 747-8F orders.
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 1:01 pm

747classic wrote:
The 747-8F (or -I) is IMHO the prime candidate for a future E-4B replacement.

- The flightdeck avionics suite and GEnx-2B engine installation will be already EMI shielded and adapted for military operation for the VC-25B
- Electronic counter measure equipment and/or AAR protection has already been or will be developed for the VC-25B
- Seen the current production of only 747-8F aircraft a slightly modified 747-8F frame (without nose door ?) will be perfectly suited as a future "green " E-4C airframe.
- No windows (or only at a few at tactical locations) will improve electronic shielding.
- All 747-8F aircraft are standard equipped with 3 airconditioning packs and even 4 packs can be installed , when needed for avionics cooling.
- Four (4) engines can provide more electrical power, when needed two generators/engine like the current E-4B are possible.
- Lower cargo compartments can also been fully airco controlled, when needed.
- Operation and maintenance of both VC-25B aircraft and a small fleet of E-4C aircraft can be combined, creating a fleet of around 6 aircraft, reducing flight crew costs, maintenance costs and spare parts.
- As part of the E-4C deal it would be advisable to include for future structural spare parts the last Boeing owned 747-8I (L/N 1435 ,c/n 37826, Lufthansa ntu).
- Seen the recent decline in the cargo market a possible deal could be made by purchasing the remaining Air Bridge Cargo 747-8F orders.


Sounds very, very plausible. Also, with Volga-Dnepr/Air Bridge Cargo losing money as is, they probably would be happy (deep inside) to let go their outstanding orders -- even if they are poker-faced and will try to exert some pressure to get an extra buck.
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 2:34 pm

Electric power should not be an issue with the 767. I mean if the current 767 AWACs can power the massive radar, that architecture should be able to power all the communication and computing needs.
What all is needed in the E-4C anyway?

Lots of antennas, and floor space right?
With a fiber and Wi-Fi net, you can reduce the wiring.

Four engines are great for redundancy, but two engines are more fuel efficient. Take the 767-2C frame as it already have the shielding. Add a couple of aux tanks, and you can probably get the loiter time you need at a much more reasonable price.

bt
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 2:51 pm

bikerthai wrote:
Electric power should not be an issue with the 767. I mean if the current 767 AWACs can power the massive radar, that architecture should be able to power all the communication and computing needs.
What all is needed in the E-4C anyway?

Lots of antennas, and floor space right?
With a fiber and Wi-Fi net, you can reduce the wiring.

Four engines are great for redundancy, but two engines are more fuel efficient. Take the 767-2C frame as it already have the shielding. Add a couple of aux tanks, and you can probably get the loiter time you need at a much more reasonable price.

bt


Military effectivity when it's really needed in an emergency and not fuel efficiency is the goal for the successor of the E-4B.

On the 767-2C not much floor space is available, you can replace the older, partly analogue E-4B equipment with smaller, lighter digital stuff, but you have to have a lot of specialist brains (=humans) on board to filter the right info out of the excessive large data stream that's entering the aircraft in a real emergency.
Installing aux tanks is even more limiting the available (lower deck) floor space.
Operating a twin over the ocean, you're always one engine failure from a total emergency.
 
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kanban
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 6:10 pm

is it possible to split the E-4 functions into two planes.. then a fleet of 767's could handle it
 
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Sun Dec 08, 2019 9:10 pm

kanban wrote:
is it possible to split the E-4 functions into two planes.. then a fleet of 767's could handle it


I imagine this is more likely than somehow squeezing out more 747s. From memory the supplier of 747 fuselages has been liquidated and they're selling off all the tooling. Which probably means the jigs have already been destroyed and the institutional knowledge in the workers have moved on. Unless they pick up whitetails or second hand airframes this is the B767-2C's race to lose. If they have to have all those bodies in the air I would expect multiple aircraft in flight at once.
 
timh4000
Posts: 321
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Mon Dec 09, 2019 2:44 am

ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:
kanban wrote:
is it possible to split the E-4 functions into two planes.. then a fleet of 767's could handle it


I imagine this is more likely than somehow squeezing out more 747s. From memory the supplier of 747 fuselages has been liquidated and they're selling off all the tooling. Which probably means the jigs have already been destroyed and the institutional knowledge in the workers have moved on. Unless they pick up whitetails or second hand airframes this is the B767-2C's race to lose. If they have to have all those bodies in the air I would expect multiple aircraft in flight at once.

Having been in the USAF I can tell you that when it comes to mission planning and capability along with the modes of transport, remember there's a real chance that the POTUS will be on it, at least at some point, the DOD is given blank checks. You guys that are saying that with modern day tech they could and should drop down to something smaller and more efficient. I can guarantee you fuel efficiency or mechanical efficiency is not considered at all.

Four engined a/c the military has no problem with using. The B-52 has 8 engines and its retirement is still some 20 or more years from now. I personally don't understand why the air force feels the need to have a full squadron of them and for the foreseeable future... they are talking about it being in service hitting the century mark. I can't imagine it being in anyway a cost cutter with the amount of work and refitting major sections of the plane to keep it air worthy. Remember too, with these planes, including the current and next gen E-4B/C these planes are not babied at all. In order to train for readiness they are putting them through the ringer, often taking them very close to their capability. The current VC-25 has only used its full potential on a few occasions, the pilots for that plane I would imagine train on a E4-B which has similar capabilities. Or perhaps they train on the VC-25 not in use, but I think that would be rare as it is often used as a decoy and as much as possible be ready to go as a backup in case the VC-25 being used as AF1 develops serious issues. My guess is intense sim training and the E4-B. While they do get put in the air a lot, it's nothing compared to a normal commercial airliner. 20 years of one of those 747's would probably equal half that in flight time and cycles of the USAF 747's. And, don't forget any time it's on the ground not getting prepped and ready for its next mission, it's getting worked on pretty much continuously. Without a doubt the most safe plane in the air. A major inflight emergency due to mechanical failure is so insanely unlikely. I doubt there's ever been one since the the 1st 707 to be used as AF1 has ever occured, although I could be wrong. I've never seen or heard of serious mechanical breakdown that's happened. If someone has information about it, not just enquire like stories and speculation of one. The same holds true with all of the aircraft involved in the nuclear theater. I'm not saying there's never been a mechanical issue in any of them, but they are all given the utmost care, far beyond that of a typical airliner.
 
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kanban
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Mon Dec 09, 2019 5:14 am

timh4000 wrote:
ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:
kanban wrote:
is it possible to split the E-4 functions into two planes.. then a fleet of 767's could handle it


I imagine this is more likely than somehow squeezing out more 747s. From memory the supplier of 747 fuselages has been liquidated and they're selling off all the tooling. Which probably means the jigs have already been destroyed and the institutional knowledge in the workers have moved on. Unless they pick up whitetails or second hand airframes this is the B767-2C's race to lose. If they have to have all those bodies in the air I would expect multiple aircraft in flight at once.

Having been in the USAF I can tell you that when it comes to mission planning and capability along with the modes of transport, remember there's a real chance that the POTUS will be on it, at least at some point, the DOD is given blank checks. You guys that are saying that with modern day tech they could and should drop down to something smaller and more efficient. I can guarantee you fuel efficiency or mechanical efficiency is not considered at all.

Four engined a/c the military has no problem with using. The B-52 has 8 engines and its retirement is still some 20 or more years from now. I personally don't understand why the air force feels the need to have a full squadron of them and for the foreseeable future... they are talking about it being in service hitting the century mark. I can't imagine it being in anyway a cost cutter with the amount of work and refitting major sections of the plane to keep it air worthy. Remember too, with these planes, including the current and next gen E-4B/C these planes are not babied at all. In order to train for readiness they are putting them through the ringer, often taking them very close to their capability. The current VC-25 has only used its full potential on a few occasions, the pilots for that plane I would imagine train on a E4-B which has similar capabilities. Or perhaps they train on the VC-25 not in use, but I think that would be rare as it is often used as a decoy and as much as possible be ready to go as a backup in case the VC-25 being used as AF1 develops serious issues. My guess is intense sim training and the E4-B. While they do get put in the air a lot, it's nothing compared to a normal commercial airliner. 20 years of one of those 747's would probably equal half that in flight time and cycles of the USAF 747's. And, don't forget any time it's on the ground not getting prepped and ready for its next mission, it's getting worked on pretty much continuously. Without a doubt the most safe plane in the air. A major inflight emergency due to mechanical failure is so insanely unlikely. I doubt there's ever been one since the the 1st 707 to be used as AF1 has ever occured, although I could be wrong. I've never seen or heard of serious mechanical breakdown that's happened. If someone has information about it, not just enquire like stories and speculation of one. The same holds true with all of the aircraft involved in the nuclear theater. I'm not saying there's never been a mechanical issue in any of them, but they are all given the utmost care, far beyond that of a typical airliner.


my proposing the 767 was not about fuel efficiency, but about what airplanes are currently in production.. I agree the AF doesn't give a rip about fuel efficiency. If the AF wants 747's there are bare freighters where all the necessary goodies can be installed at minimal expense (vs reconfiguring an existing plane) as far as the 100 plus on board.. Boeing could install windows in the freighter body..

The odd thing about the Triumph production cessation is they also produce the freighter skins assemblies with ribs and stringers. With all the consolidation I'm not sure whether they actually build the components or only assemble the skin panels for shipment.
 
timh4000
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:09 am

Well if it is a case of what is currently being manufactured if it is easier, they would just have to convert the 7478f. Again, doubtful that there would be a significant difference, and in the case of using a 748i, which technically Boeing has not called it quits yet, they could still produce 4 of them and to make it easier on Boeing still, they would never install any seating or galleys anyway. I imagine the flight deck would not be your standard flight deck as well. I think they would still build it, with all of the essential elements screens circuit breakers etc. etc. From there it would get additional software and any other added hardware they would need for its extra systems. Boeing wouldn't make it cheap, as obviously we hear about how expensive some of the militarized parts can be and would not mind at all making 4 or however many 7478i's the USAF wants. And triumph would open up shop again as well. I'm not saying that's what they will do. They may go after some soon to be retired 8i's and do their makeovers on those.

I do think that the 777x might be a possible candidate... just depends on how they feel regarding to 2 vs 4 engines. And, there is also the fact that the POTUS does use on a few occasions the C-32. There's even a gulfstream that has been used as AF1 although I don't know if it has been used since Clinton was in office, possibly.
 
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bikerthai
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Mon Dec 09, 2019 3:37 pm

kanban wrote:
about the Triumph production cessation is they also produce the freighter skins assemblies with ribs and stringers.


I believe for the 747F, the frames that was once built by Triumph will now be fabricated in-house.

As for 747-8I vs 747-8F, its not a mater of cost. From the windows to the interior panels, it is just simpler to make the -8F parts than making the -8I parts. It's not because of cost but it's the ability to get subcontractors to actually bid on things like windows, sidewall panels etc. when you only have a production run of 1 or 2 frames.

If a 747 is needed, then best just to get used frames. When the times come, it may be just easier to offer an airline a 777-9 for 747-8I swap than to build new -8I's or -8F for that matter.

bt
Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
Posts: 961
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:56 pm

timh4000 wrote:
ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:
kanban wrote:
is it possible to split the E-4 functions into two planes.. then a fleet of 767's could handle it


I imagine this is more likely than somehow squeezing out more 747s. From memory the supplier of 747 fuselages has been liquidated and they're selling off all the tooling. Which probably means the jigs have already been destroyed and the institutional knowledge in the workers have moved on. Unless they pick up whitetails or second hand airframes this is the B767-2C's race to lose. If they have to have all those bodies in the air I would expect multiple aircraft in flight at once.

Having been in the USAF I can tell you that when it comes to mission planning and capability along with the modes of transport, remember there's a real chance that the POTUS will be on it, at least at some point, the DOD is given blank checks. You guys that are saying that with modern day tech they could and should drop down to something smaller and more efficient. I can guarantee you fuel efficiency or mechanical efficiency is not considered at all.

Four engined a/c the military has no problem with using. The B-52 has 8 engines and its retirement is still some 20 or more years from now. I personally don't understand why the air force feels the need to have a full squadron of them and for the foreseeable future... they are talking about it being in service hitting the century mark. I can't imagine it being in anyway a cost cutter with the amount of work and refitting major sections of the plane to keep it air worthy. Remember too, with these planes, including the current and next gen E-4B/C these planes are not babied at all. In order to train for readiness they are putting them through the ringer, often taking them very close to their capability. The current VC-25 has only used its full potential on a few occasions, the pilots for that plane I would imagine train on a E4-B which has similar capabilities. Or perhaps they train on the VC-25 not in use, but I think that would be rare as it is often used as a decoy and as much as possible be ready to go as a backup in case the VC-25 being used as AF1 develops serious issues. My guess is intense sim training and the E4-B. While they do get put in the air a lot, it's nothing compared to a normal commercial airliner. 20 years of one of those 747's would probably equal half that in flight time and cycles of the USAF 747's. And, don't forget any time it's on the ground not getting prepped and ready for its next mission, it's getting worked on pretty much continuously. Without a doubt the most safe plane in the air. A major inflight emergency due to mechanical failure is so insanely unlikely. I doubt there's ever been one since the the 1st 707 to be used as AF1 has ever occured, although I could be wrong. I've never seen or heard of serious mechanical breakdown that's happened. If someone has information about it, not just enquire like stories and speculation of one. The same holds true with all of the aircraft involved in the nuclear theater. I'm not saying there's never been a mechanical issue in any of them, but they are all given the utmost care, far beyond that of a typical airliner.


I understand all that. It's more a case of the line shutting down. By the time a decision has been made it's entirely plausible the last couple will be rolling out the door. At that point it'd probably be cheaper to militarize a B77X. Blank cheques are great if someone can an will build the thing. But this won't be a blank cheque sort of thing. Not with all the other 'must haves' the US military is dealing with. For example I'm sure the USAF would've liked to have 3 VC-25Bs as a one to one replacement for the current birds. But they're only getting two. Which means if two are required every time POTUS travels overseas it makes doing heavy checks much more difficult to plan. But they're going to have to figure that out.
 
mmo
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:15 pm

ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:


For example I'm sure the USAF would've liked to have 3 VC-25Bs as a one to one replacement for the current birds. But they're only getting two. Which means if two are required every time POTUS travels overseas it makes doing heavy checks much more difficult to plan. But they're going to have to figure that out.


The USAF only has 2 VC-25A the tail numbers are 28000 and 29000.
If we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane!
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:52 pm

mmo wrote:
ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:


For example I'm sure the USAF would've liked to have 3 VC-25Bs as a one to one replacement for the current birds. But they're only getting two. Which means if two are required every time POTUS travels overseas it makes doing heavy checks much more difficult to plan. But they're going to have to figure that out.


The USAF only has 2 VC-25A the tail numbers are 28000 and 29000.


Huh, could've sworn there we three. Oh well, ignore that part of my post then. :)
 
texl1649
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:25 pm

It is amazing how much relative interest there is in this very niche, up to 2-frame program vs. for instance the FARA stuff.

Realistically, it would be a lot more interesting if a diversified fleet of 4-20 long endurance high altitude communication drones were being considered for a replacement role, imho. A random 747 with enormous radio/sat link capabilities, and meeting rooms with a dozen flag officers is pretty...uninteresting from an aviation enthusiast perspective.
 
timh4000
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:51 pm

Perhaps, but I'd bet you would change your mind if you could get a ride on one during a training exercise. Get a full tour. If your a numbers type then just talking about a handful of planes highly modified I can see where there wouldn't be the appeal. I'm maybe a bit different than a lot of A. Netters on here. I don't follow tail numbers, I'm not as interested as to what type of a/c I'm flying on. Some, probably still more than your average couple of times a year flyer at best.

When it comes to the military their planes I have always had a deep interest in. When I served in the USAF from 83 to 87 the military and the civilian aviation has changed quite a bit. In 83 I remember watching f-4's doing high g 70 or whatever degree turns going from 4-500 mph to landing in just seconds, literary no final, or I guess you could say that crazy tight 180 dropping 350mph at several g's and then touch down. A full afterburner f-16 take off you felt in your chest and watch it go vertical.
The difference if flight between those and say a B-52, the smoke, the nearly horizontal takeoff. As I was a medic I did train on a C-130 although I was never a flying ops. When it comes to the nuclear theater, all branches, especially the NAVY AND USAF, it's like a whole different military within the military. Not that I have far greater knowledge then what anyone else gets, but a little here and there. Just enough to basically say that what we've all seen on docs, or well depicted movies like by dawn's early light... it goes so far beyond that. As a medic stationed at LA AFB, I needed to obtain a higher security clearance just to handle their files and do the usual vitals or bandage a wound. I could ask them questions about what they actually did, and there's no way they are spilling out anything. If I continue to ask (I never did) I would have been charged with verbal harassment.

It's funny watching videos of celebrities getting a joy ride with a member of the blue Angel's. Barfing, passing out and what these pilots take them through is kids stuff compared to what they can really do. Through dumb luck I drove out to vegas for a weekend and they had one of their red flag exercises going on. Watching the maneuvers was something you never forget. Not that a blue Angel's show is boring by any means, but it's a show. Flying in close formation doing maneuvers is nothing to sneeze at, but it's not anywhere near the limits the fighter jocks can take those planes.

In the nuclear theater, the war planning with AF1, The other E4B's, the looking glass planes. They switch to a whole different mode.

9/11 had sort of shown us we had gotten quite negligent through the Clinton years at least. The communication was horrible, and as impressive as it was as far as hearing about AF1 and showing it's TRUE capabilities. The truth is we stumbled pretty bad coming out of the gate. So, I guess if we are lucky enough if nukes are to be fired from say N. Korea, Iran, or some rogue former Soviet group, in the few scenarios where once nukes start flying and the whole world doesn't die like what would likely happen (some of the countries leaders survive and smatterings of any thing left) we do need that theater to have its s--- together to prevent the apocalypse.
 
txjim
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:13 pm

kanban wrote:
Given that so much of the hardware on the old planes can now be packed in a tablet or cell phone, a 737 Max with aerial refueling capability should do the job. On the other hand because the Air Force is so conservative, there is no reason a fleet of 747-8 F's could not be adapted. who needs windows anyway. put the brass in lay-flat modules and virtual reality head sets.

I challenge you to pack crypto gear or VLF transmitters into a cellphone.
 
PC12Fan
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:40 pm

txjim wrote:
kanban wrote:
Given that so much of the hardware on the old planes can now be packed in a tablet or cell phone, a 737 Max with aerial refueling capability should do the job. On the other hand because the Air Force is so conservative, there is no reason a fleet of 747-8 F's could not be adapted. who needs windows anyway. put the brass in lay-flat modules and virtual reality head sets.

I challenge you to pack crypto gear or VLF transmitters into a cellphone.


True - But I'm sure you get his point that tech has come a long way since "Doomsday" came on the scene. Current capabilities should be able to fit on a 767 platform with updated tech.

However, maybe the USAF's wish list has increased enough where they do in fact need a 748F or 779 platform to fit all their new goodies.

Time will tell.
Just when I think you've said the stupidest thing ever, you keep talkin'!
 
mmo
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:00 am

There is quite a bit of "mis-information" floating around on this post. There is an element of truth regarding Comm/Elint and other electronic equipment getting smaller and more reliable. However, this has let to more equipment being added to the mission requirements. So, it becomes a trade-off, while less volume and weight are required for a piece of equipment more equipment is being installed.

My guess is if Boeing were approached for an E-4B replacement, it would get done. The problem with some of the aircraft suggested is that after EMP hardening, the payload would be terrible. The AF-1 and E4B are about 100,000 pounds heavier than their civilian counterparts due to the additional equipment, EMP, self-defense, two APUs and other modifications. At the end of the day, it really doesn't make much difference if it's an F or 8I for the airframe. The freighter would require serious modifications to the interior, remember the freighter only has one Lav and it's in the upper deck, it also has the smaller hump which results in less interior volume than the 8I. Plugging the window if an 8I is used is a very minor task in the big picture of things. A/R has already been added on the E-4B and I would be willing to bet, the replacement would have the same capability added.

Just my opinion on the thread.
If we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane!
 
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747classic
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:46 am

mmo wrote:
There is quite a bit of "mis-information" floating around on this post. There is an element of truth regarding Comm/Elint and other electronic equipment getting smaller and more reliable. However, this has let to more equipment being added to the mission requirements. So, it becomes a trade-off, while less volume and weight are required for a piece of equipment more equipment is being installed.

My guess is if Boeing were approached for an E-4B replacement, it would get done. The problem with some of the aircraft suggested is that after EMP hardening, the payload would be terrible. The AF-1 and E4B are about 100,000 pounds heavier than their civilian counterparts due to the additional equipment, EMP, self-defense, two APUs and other modifications. At the end of the day, it really doesn't make much difference if it's an F or 8I for the airframe. The freighter would require serious modifications to the interior, remember the freighter only has one Lav and it's in the upper deck, it also has the smaller hump which results in less interior volume than the 8I. Plugging the window if an 8I is used is a very minor task in the big picture of things. A/R has already been added on the E-4B and I would be willing to bet, the replacement would have the same capability added.

Just my opinion on the thread.


I fully agree :checkmark:

Regarding the weight (over 100.000 lbs) of all the equipment :

747-8F aircraft are structurally built with an an increased MZFW of 727.000 lbs (329,762 kgs), incl. increased strength floor beams, allowing for heavier locally placed loads.
747-8I aircraft are structually built with a lower MZFW of only 651.000 lbs (295.289 kgs) and reduced strength floor beams for weight reduction.

So, it's more easy to adapt a 747-8F, with some interior modifications, than to increase the structural strength of secondhand 747-8I aircraft.
Note : with a civil 747 Passenger - Freighter modification only part of the structure can be modified for the higher operating weights. The not modified passenger structure will receive increased wear and tear (quote of Boeing regarding converted freighters ).
Operating a twin over the ocean, you're always one engine failure from a total emergency.
 
tmu101
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:26 pm

Just for fun - I noticed one parked on the Leading Edge ramp (think that's the name of the paint shop) at FTW yesterday (Jan. 6). Guessing it is in for a paint job (American flag on the tail looked like it was missing or removed). Saw it driving to and from work off of 820 so i couldn't get a picture of it unfortunately. Beautiful bird! :cloudnine:
 
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Stitch
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:23 pm

Coming in late, but personally I believe the optimum platform will likely be the 767-2C / KC-46. The E-10, which was based on the 767-400ER, was intended to be an E-4B replacement (as well as an E-3, E-8, RC-135 Rivet Joint and probably E-6 replacement) so moving to two engines and the 767 platform would not be a new direction.

When the E-4's were commissioned, Air Force One was a 707 with limited comm gear so the expectation that in a DEFCON 1 situation, the President would be aboard the E-4 should it become necessary to prosecute a nuclear exchange. With the VC-25A/VC-25B, I believe it has the necessary comms gear to do so and it would also be in communication with the E-6 Mercury TACAMO planes which can communicate with the SSBNs and the land-based silos as well as any airborne strategic assets.

As such, the need for a large battle staff and such as on the E-4 is likely no longer needed and the 767-2C should offer enough space for what staff and gear would be necessary to communicate with the VC-25B and E-6.

If the USAF really wanted a 747-8 platform, they would have pushed for it in conjunction with the PAR program - doubly so once Boeing said the 747-8I was on "last call" and triply so now that it looks like they probably did "last call" on the freighter, as well, in preparation for closing the 747 program down.

Of course, with PAR now using "second-hand" passenger 747-8, the USAF could pursue second-hand passenger 747-400 frames. Or even just keep the VC-25As around for SECDEF (who is the main user of the E-4, currently).
 
Raptormodeller
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Re: USAF looking for an E-4B replacement

Thu Jan 09, 2020 1:02 pm

E4B takes what? 100 people, they'll probably go for commonality with 747-8, probably the freighter or a ULR 777 or A350. A350 is unlikely because it's not American. So maybe the choice is 747-8 freighter, 777-8 or maybe a 787 on steroids. I don't see the 767 happening. Sure most of the computing power needed today could be done a couple, ok a few large PC's but the E4 needs to work in a nuclear exchange and digital electronics have a habit and not a practically fixable one of going awry under increased radiation levels etc... even more so on top of the line modern PC's whose brains work at or close to the atomic level, which is a bit shit when you're going to be bombarded by a lot of alpha particles in your mission... survive and control during a nuclear holocaust. the USAF will need the size of a 777/747 for the semi digital/analogue computers currently in use which WORK and probably very well (otherwise they wouldn't use them on their last ditch effort to command their armies), sure they'll be updated and better blah blah but you get what I mean. I don't see USAF using a 767 or even a 737 for that matter. That's my opinion on this E4 replacement....
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