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Old May 9th 04, 05:22 AM
Guy Alcala
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Kevin Brooks wrote:

"Henry J Cobb" wrote in message
...
Kevin Brooks wrote:
"Henry J Cobb" wrote in message
http://www.military.com/NewContent/0...042804,00.html
Will the Air Force fulfill the Navy requirement for simultaneous
refueling capability and, if so, when?

Henry, you need to be a bit more careful in your citations (nothing new
about that...). Note that the article indicates: "Naval air forces,
including the Marine Corps' 72 F/A-18D fighters, require tankers to

refuel
more than one fighter jet at a time with the hose reel system." Hogwash.
"Require"? How many USN tanker aircraft can feed two receivers at once?

The
S-3 in tanking mode? Nope. The F/A-18E in tanker mode? Nope.


Are the Marines still part of the Navy Department?


What does *that* matter? If it was freakin' *required*, then why all of the
fuss to get the F/A-18E into the tanking game? Why is it possible for the
USAF to do quite well with single-point tanking, while the USN 9despite its
own loooong history of also using single point tanking) would find it so
distatsteful (if, that is, you take the author's words as true--which they
ain't, in this case)?


Kevin, while it's highly unusual for me to support anything that HJC puts
forward, I find the article in question pretty accurately reflects the issues.
A boom typically has double (or more) the transfer rate of a
drogue/fighter-sized probe. That's why the USAF decided to adopt them in the
first place, for SAC's bombers, so that refueling took much less time. Single
point drogues are better than nothing, but just as the article says, they limit
the size of the strike flight (or require far more tankers), because the first
a/c to refuel has used up most of the fuel it has received by the time that the
last guy is done. From DS on the USN has relied increasingly on USAF and
foreign land-based tankers, because their own tankers lack the
numbers/offload/loiter/drogue stations to allow them to go far inland with
large strikes. The USMC has its KC-130s, which are at least dual-point, but
they're limited to perhaps 6 a/c in a flight pre-strike, with four preferred,
before they meet the law of diminishing returns. A single-point boom tanker is
about the same. It's not that the navy can't use their S-3s or F-18E/Fs
exclusively, it's just that they're limited in the size/radius of their strikes
when they do so.

Given our increasing jointness, it does seem odd that the KC-767 isn't planned
to have provision for wing drogues from the get-go. It's clearly an
inter-service budget issue, but single point drogues just don't cut it for big
strikes; if they did, we wouldn't have fit out those KC-10As and KC-135Rs for
wing drogues (Flight Refueling MK.32s IIRC). It's a simple matter of fuel
throughput per unit time. Large, land-based drogue tankers should have at least
two drogue stations, with three preferred (see the Victor K.2; there was even a
USN Convair seaplane with FOUR drogues):

http://www.aviation-history.com/convair/tradewind.html

Less than two drogue stations is not making use of a large a/c's wingspan.
Naturally, they don't all have to be fitted with them all the time, as there is
a weight, drag and maintenance penalty, but they sure as hell should be capable
of fitting them. Hell, Boeing is even talking about a BWB tanker with two
_booms_.

That the RAF Tristars don't have wing pods has been a minor scandal for almost
20 years now. They were supposed to get them, and initial cursory engineering
evaluations indicated that the wing structure could take them, but when it came
time to get serious they found out there were issues that were going to require
very expensive modifications (splitting the ailerons or maybe it was the flaps
was part of it, IIRR), so they've been stuck with a pair of centerline drogues
ever since. That provides redundancy, but doesn't increase the receiver
servicing rate.

And the KC-767 will be able to carry at least a little more fuel than a
Superhornet, or a KC-130J even.


So what? Your "source" says the USN *requires* multi-point tanking
capability--and that plainly is NOT the case.


For most of the deeper missions, including most of the combat missions that have
been flown from DS on, they do. If they aren't going very far, and/or are using
small strike packages at fairly wide intervals, they don't. Neither has been
typical of USN combat ops for the last 14 years.

snip

But you also are missing another
factor...if the land-based tankers are so ctitical to USN aviation
capabilities, why do you need the CVN's in the first place? If you can

get
land based tanker support into the fray to support the USN strikers, you

are
also within range of getting the USAF strikers into the fight,

especially
the heavies...


Sea basing still needs work on delivering fuel, cargo and people to an
OMFTS force.


You are getting more dense every day... Now, if the USN is so dependent upon
land-based tanking, why is the CVN of such tremendous value, given that we
could just as well be deploying B-1's, B-52's, and even F-15E's from the
same base (or other bases in that area) that the tankers are operating from
to perform the missions instead of having a CVN (and attendant resources)
lurching around dependent upon land-based air support?


There are obviously ramp space and arrival time/support issues. Clearly you can
get a force of tankers in theater a lot faster than a force of tankers PLUS a
force of fighters and all their support. The CVWs are already on station with
everything but the tanking (and maybe some E-3s/JSTARS).

Guy

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