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Navy Deploys P-8A Aircraft to U.S. Sixth Fleet

A Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft squadron has deployed to the U.S. Sixth Fleet for the first time, expanding the aircraft’s deployed force levels to a third area of responsibility beyond the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf.

Patrol Squadron 45 (VP-45), based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Fla., has deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, in support of operations in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility. Prior to this deployment, maritime patrol coverage in the region was provided by VP squadrons flying P-3C Orions.

The P-8A made its first deployment in December 2013, operated by VP-16 from Naval Air Facility Kadena, Okinawa, Japan, followed in sequence by VP-5, VP-45 and now VP-8. VP-5 deployed to the U.S. Fifth Fleet earlier this year. The current deployment to the Mediterranean Sea region is the second P-8A deployment for VP-45. The P-8A also will be deployed in support of the U.S. Fourth Fleet in late 2017.

So far, six of the Navy’s 12 fleet VP squadrons have made the transition from the P-3C to the P-8A. VP-45 relieved a Hawaii-based P-3C squadron, VP-4, which soon will begin a transition to the P-8A and move to NAS Whidbey Island, Wash.

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Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
could ... but would? :)
The Air Force’s future KC-Z tanker could usher in a massive technological leap forward, with autonomy, low observability and flying wing designs possibly playing a role in the program.

As enemy air defenses improve, the Air Force may need a penetrating aerial refueling tanker that can move forward in conjunction with stealthy fifth-generation aircraft like the F-22 and F-35, Air Mobility Command head Gen. Carlton Everhart told reporters Tuesday.

A study, slated to begin this year, will help the service decide the path forward, but Everhart said officials likely will skip past a KC-Y competition, either folding in modifications to the KC-46A or directly transitioning to the KC-Z.

“Once that study is done, then we’ll start programming, and we’re looking around the 2030 to 2035 area in the budget where it gains us the opportunity to be able to procure a new follow-on tanker,” he said during a round-table discussion at the Air Force Association conference.

Today, the Air Force conducts aerial refueling using large airplanes — usually derived from commercial passenger jets — that fill up smaller craft while far away from enemy activity. That might not be the most effective way to conduct the mission in the future, Everhart said.

“We have been aerial refueling basically the same way since it was invented. You drop the hose or you drop the boom and you refuel that way. What we’re looking at is autonomy. Is that the right question?” he said.

“What does that tanker look like? Is it a big airplane like we have now? Is it a tube with wings? Is it radar absorbing?” he said. “Can we have one person in the cockpit, and not two pilots? What does that look like? Those are the questions that we’re getting after.”

AMC is working closely with the Air Force research labs and is especially relying on industry in gathering information on fledgling or existing technologies that could enable a tanker to operate in more challenging environments. In October, the command is set to host its first industry day since 2009.

A KC-Z will likely need to accompany fighter jets and other assets into anti-access, area-denial battlespaces, which means it could incorporate low-observable features. Everhart said he had challenged industry to create a “cloaking device” that would disguise the aircraft’s radar signature and make the tanker appear like a much smaller object.

The KC-Z could also utilize a flying wing or blended wing design to reduce radar reflection.

“Frankly, I really love that style,” Everhart said. “We’re just at the tip of the iceberg on what’s out there that we can apply to big airplanes."

Another capability the service is interested in is autonomy, which could make the refueling process easier for operators or decrease crew size, he said.

Besides providing clarity on the kinds of technologies the service needs in a KC-Z, officials also are pondering how many tankers will be needed in the future, as the existing KC-10 and KC-135s are retired, he said. The Air Force plans to buy 179 KC-46As in its current program of record, but the service is going to need more than that to meet its requirements.

“I know that I need to meet wartime requirements, and that’s the number I will drive to,” he said, adding he didn’t know whether the majority should be KC-Zs or KC-46. “Things change, and we want to look at our adversary and say, ‘What capability do they bring on, and how do we go against that?’”
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FORBIN

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QUOTE="Jura, post: 416369, member: 10559"]Air Force Could Pursue Stealthy Aerial-Refueling Tanker
could ... but would? :)

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Not sure useful, a good idea.. yet more expensive and tankers refuel enough far of area where takes place A2A combats or bombing, in more and with the progress of radars to detect stealth aircraft in 10/15 years an idea very arguable.
For funds impossible, yet ofc the B-21 programm is going for to be expensive with100 untits possible but ideally up to 130/140 Bombers for replaced B-1/52 and if in more USAF must afford a stealth tanker it is not serious !

Stealth interesting for combattants too expensive for others but necessary innovated for later new tech with by ex active stealth, now enough long time steatlh exist and others countries begin to build radars enoughh efficient and possible EW aircrafts remains usefull.

Also many strange ideas not necessary consider that.
 
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Equation

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Not sure useful, a good idea.. yet more expensive and tankers refuel enough far of area where takes place A2A combats or bombing, in more and with the progress of radars to detect stealth aircraft in 10/15 years an idea very arguable.
For funds impossible, yet ofc the B-21 programm is going for to be expensive with100 untits possible but ideally up to 130/140 Bombers for replaced B-1/52 and if in more USAF must afford a stealth tanker it is not serious !

Stealth interesting for combattants too expensive for others but necessary innovated for later new tech with by ex active stealth, now enough long time steatlh exist and others countries begin to build radars enoughh efficient and possible EW aircrafts remains usefull.

Also many strange ideas not necessary consider that.

What if there's a stealth external fuel tanks attached onto the B-21? That way one doesn't have to design and build a whole new stealth aircraft just for refueling and radar role only.
 

FORBIN

Lieutenant General
Registered Member
What if there's a stealth external fuel tanks attached onto the B-21? That way one doesn't have to design and build a whole new stealth aircraft just for refueling and radar role only.
FT in more big for a Bomber is not good for stealth but anyway for price reason this idea is useless yet USAF " lucky " if she can have up to 140 B-21, btw 100/140.

Completely different for USN want a drone of around 30 t max as tanker for in fact replaced KA-6 retired an better idea.
And not always possible or easy to have tankers operated with CVNs so clearly the choice is more logic than this idea.
 
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Sep 9, 2016
... anyway I'm really curious about the Zumwalts, as I hope they won't have
  • ridiculously high requirements for maintenance, and/or
  • ridiculously low endurance
(one hundred years ago, a flush-decker would sail from San Diego to Hawaii without refueling, something which "soooo sophisticated" LCS can't do, my gosh ... hope Zumwalts won't be that super-smart)
Next-Generation Destroyer Zumwalt Sidelined for Repairs After Engineering Casualty
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fortunately I have to go now or I would start a rant
 

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