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Old 10-03-2020, 12:19 PM   #11  
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Aren't there a few countries flying the tanker successfully?
The airbus tanker? Yes.
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Old 10-03-2020, 01:03 PM   #12  
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Aren't there a few countries flying the tanker successfully?
Italy and Japan are both flying a B-767 tanker, but it is NOT a KC-46. It is essentially a 767 with a KC-135-style boomer’s station, boom, and I believe two wingtip-mounted hose and drogue pods.

It looks similar, but the KC-46 is a hodge-podge of 767-variant parts. I believe 767-200 fuselage, -300 horizontal stabilizer, either a -300 or -400 wing, and I forget which engines. It was referred to as “Frankentanker” during development for that reason.

The Japanese and Italian tankers have been in service for about 15 years. No major issues that I am aware of.

The KC-46 (besides the scandal and bribery charges the first time around) has had buffeting problems, and quality control (trash and tools found in closed spaces). But the biggest problem is the ongoing issue with the cameras for the remote-boomer position, which was an unfortunate design-decision.

The boomer is now in the cockpit. Multiple cameras are supposed to give him an unobstructed and continuous view of the receivers. In theory, this adds to crew coordination, as well as eliminating the boomer pod. The pod adds weight and complexity to the fuselage structure, and is COLD In a 135 due to “tail end of the pipe” heat ducting, and exposure in the turbulent flow aft of the fuselage.

But like any video camera...these cameras can be washed out by bright light sources. A human suddenly illuminated squints or looks away...and recovery can be quick. In contrast, a videocamera may be blinded for several seconds.
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Old 10-03-2020, 02:55 PM   #13  
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Airbus also went with the remote boom operator and cameras. It seems to work just fine.
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Old 10-03-2020, 04:26 PM   #14  
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Airbus also went with the remote boom operator and cameras. It seems to work just fine.
It does seem like a problem which could be solved, sensor fusion or graphics processing.

Or a long periscope to the boom

In fairness, the A400 was a real poop-show, still not fully resolved, and all for an over-grown herky-bird.
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Old 10-03-2020, 04:51 PM   #15  
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It does seem like a problem which could be solved, sensor fusion or graphics processing.

Or a long periscope to the boom

In fairness, the A400 was a real poop-show, still not fully resolved, and all for an over-grown herky-bird.
Yes, the A400 was/is a POS. But it was also a clean sheet aircraft. The 767 first flew in 1981. That’s 39 years ago. To put that in perspective, 39 years before that the Japanese were still kicking our butts in the Pacific.

would it have been unreasonable to expect that sometime in the 39 years of building 767s Boeing could have instructed their workers to not leave tools and old McDonalds wrappers in the fuel tanks and closed spaces during construction? Because THAT is what has been holding up acceptance.

Yeah, the boomer’s station needs work, but the USAF agreed two years ago to accept that with the known deficiencies for future upgrade:

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zon...ly-operational

https://www.airforcemag.com/kc-46-up...nd-of-boomers/

It’s more mundane things, like FOD friggin everywhere that have been the biggest holdups.

https://breakingdefense.com/2019/06/...ltural-change/

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Old 10-03-2020, 07:18 PM   #16  
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would it have been unreasonable to expect that sometime in the 39 years of building 767s Boeing could have instructed their workers to not leave tools and old McDonalds wrappers in the fuel tanks and closed spaces during construction? Because THAT is what has been holding up acceptance.
It's no longer Boeing, it's MD accountants dba Boeing. The old Boeing is dead. Can the new one re-invent itself? Dunno.
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Old 10-07-2020, 02:51 PM   #17  
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So basically, the head of acquisitions for DOD sees the KC-46 as a poorly designed solution to the tanker mission. Then turns around and says it’s the AF’s fault for using a fixed-price firm contract, since Boeing couldn’t soak the taxpayers for wildly underbidding the true cost.
This sounds like AF acquisitions didn’t know how to draw up a proper competition that measured what actually matters and Boeing assumed that when it became evident how much they had underestimated costs Congress would bail them out. The ineptitude and corporate laziness is mind boggling. A clean sheet design would have better met the mission needs and would have avoided the contract contortions that trying to buy an American COTS airframe resulted in.
IMO, I don't think Boeing underbid the contract. I do think they gave the USAF exactly what it asked for -- what Air Force Acquisitions contracted for. However, during testing, the test team who is used to refueling airplanes by looking through a window didn't like that the boom operator would be unable to make safe contacts during certain lighting conditions. Every tanker designed with a remote AR station (KDC-10, KC-767, A300/KC-30 MRTT) has had some type of glare problem using cameras. How in the world could they (the USAF) not have expected that?

A clean sheet? The 767 meets all of the mission needs. The only thing better Boeing could have done is pull out the old plans for the KC-135, re-engineer and modernize it and submit it as a tanker candidate. For its size, the KC-135 is remarkably efficient and carries a lot of fuel.

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The airbus tanker? Yes.
Yes, a whopping 42 tails to countries who don't rely on air refueling as much as the USA.

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Originally Posted by UAL T38 Phlyer View Post
Italy and Japan are both flying a B-767 tanker, but it is NOT a KC-46. It is essentially a 767 with a KC-135-style boomer’s station, boom, and I believe two wingtip-mounted hose and drogue pods.

It looks similar, but the KC-46 is a hodge-podge of 767-variant parts. I believe 767-200 fuselage, -300 horizontal stabilizer, either a -300 or -400 wing, and I forget which engines. It was referred to as “Frankentanker” during development for that reason.

The Japanese and Italian tankers have been in service for about 15 years. No major issues that I am aware of.

The KC-46 (besides the scandal and bribery charges the first time around) has had buffeting problems, and quality control (trash and tools found in closed spaces). But the biggest problem is the ongoing issue with the cameras for the remote-boomer position, which was an unfortunate design-decision.

The boomer is now in the cockpit. Multiple cameras are supposed to give him an unobstructed and continuous view of the receivers. In theory, this adds to crew coordination, as well as eliminating the boomer pod. The pod adds weight and complexity to the fuselage structure, and is COLD In a 135 due to “tail end of the pipe” heat ducting, and exposure in the turbulent flow aft of the fuselage.

But like any video camera...these cameras can be washed out by bright light sources. A human suddenly illuminated squints or looks away...and recovery can be quick. In contrast, a videocamera may be blinded for several seconds.
Respectfully you are wrong on several things you've said.

The KC-767, similar to the KC-46/KDC-10/A300MRTT, has a remote boom operator station using cameras. There is no aft boom station like a KC-135/KC-10.

The "frankentanker" name came from stupid US Air Force people who didn't know that the B767-200, 300, 200ER, 300ER and 300F all share the same wing! My eyes roll every time I hear one of them say, "But it has a 200 fuselage with a -300 wing".

The KC-767 also has some glare issues. Somehow Italy and Japan get the job done. What buffeting problems has the KC-46 had? I am not aware of those.

The remote boom station was not a design decision -- it was contracted that way. Circa 2000, everyone at my base (and I am sure all the tanker bases) were asked if we preferred a remote system or a boom pod in the rear of the aircraft. EVERYONE said to leave the boomer in the back. However, acquisitions didn't listen because it is cheaper to do a remote boom station.

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Airbus also went with the remote boom operator and cameras. It seems to work just fine.
Not exactly. Airbus tankers also have had contact problems at night/glare situations. So much so, in 2017 Airbus started testing an Automatic Air-to-air Refueling system (A3R) and the Australians decided to deploy the system on their KC-30s (Yes, they were first despite what Google searches saying it was Portuguese).

I've heard rumors this is what Boeing wanted on the KC-46 in the first place. However, the USAF at the time would have never gone for it (trying to eliminate the boomer) and Boeing knew it was too risky to put in the competition. I heard the remote system was supposed to be an interim design so Boeing could design a A3R system reliable enough to employ. Now, with the Air Force agreeing to accept a major flaw in the KC-46 (the glare problem) with Boeing promising to fix it, I bet you the new system will include A3R.
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Old 10-09-2020, 07:23 PM   #18  
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Purple:

Thanks! I thought I had seen pics of the Italian airplane with a Boomer pod, and thought the 46 was the first “virtual” boomer. Mea culpa.

I read about the buffeting problem in Aviation Week a LONG time ago. I think it was wing buffet, but not sure...might have been the boom itself. It was around the same time Boeing was having wing buffet on the 747-8. I remember thinking “How can a mature design, with today’s computer modeling, have a buffet problem?”

When I said “design decision,” I meant the Air Force decided they wanted it that way.

I read an article 20 years ago that said the great RIF of the early 90s got rid of all the acquisitions/Logistics guys. As such, when major contracts came up a few years/decades later..no one knew how to write them so the government wouldn’t get screwed...all the experience was gone.

Example: allegedly, the KC-46 originally (on paper) didn’t have an ILS or VOR in it...just a TACAN. The contract was written to have a TACAN....the intent was to ADD it. The Loggies assumed it would have a standard complement of civilian B767 instruments.

Boeing took the approach of “not specified, you get nothing. Want those instruments? More money.”

Again, long time ago, so I can’t verify it...but seems plausible.
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Old 10-10-2020, 12:53 PM   #19  
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Originally Posted by Excargodog View Post
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2020...stem-problems/

it ought not to be this difficult or expensive to take a mature airframe (767) and modify it to replace 1950s era technology KC-135s.
remember, Airbus won the initial contract until Boeing called in favors.
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Old 10-10-2020, 01:47 PM   #20  
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remember, Airbus won the initial contract until Boeing called in favors.
Well, that was only because they voided the Boeing sweetheart contract after the previous scandal.

If they hadn’t gotten caught on that one Airbus wouldn’t have had a chance to even make that lower bid at all, and Boeing wouldn’t have had to call in favors...

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