Thursday, March 20, 2008

USAF's Tanker Choice Can Not Refuel the V-22?

Sources in the Pentagon tell us that some members of the Marine Corps and the Special Operations community are very surprised that the Air Force's new tanker of choice may not refuel the V-22 Osprey.

Although the ability to refuel the V-22 (which the Air Force also owns) was part of Key Performance Parameter (KPP) #1 for Aerial Refueling, the EADS tanker is said to have no ability to refuel this revolutionary tilt rotor aircraft.

Specifically the Air Force briefing slides on Key System Requirements Comparison on Aerial Refueling issues are reported to state:
"Boeing can refuel all current USAF tanker compatible Tilt Rotor Aircraft
-Benefit: Provides the V-22 fleet additional refueling options while tanker maneuvering throughout entire flight envelope vs no tilt rotor refueling for NG"
The NG above stands for Northrop Grumman, EADS's American tanker partner.

To understand why this is so shocking you need to know that the V-22 was built to address may of the lessons learned from the Iranian hostage rescue debacle which required the on ground refueling of helicopters at a site the military labeled as Desert One.

In this operation America lost eight of its bravest men, seven helicopters, and a C-130 in the chaos of a remote Iranian refueling/staging area and did not even made contact with the enemy.

The Osprey - with its superior range, speed and ability to refuel in the air - was built specifically to allow forces to move directly to the objective area and not require the type of risky staging areas that proved disastrous at Desert One.

If it is true that the Air Force picked a tanker that can not refuel the V-22, this decision is astonishing to say the least.

PS - You think Murtha was mad before? When the Retired Marine Colonel hears it can't refuel the Corps latest bird, look out!


stephen said...

You're not credible if you don't acknowledge obvious weaknesses in your own argument.

The primary tanker source for the MV-22 and CV-22 fleet are the KC-130 refeullers operated by the US Marine Corps and Special Operations.

The KC-45 would be an alternative source for the V-22. You have a point but it's not nearly as significant as you're trying to imply.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but the current fleet of KC135's & KC10's can't refuel the V-22 either. some of which will still be in theater after the introduction of the KC45 They can't refuel the V22's predicesor the H53's either That's why the USMC have KC130T's & are replacing them with new KC130J's
I do feel that you may have a point However I do feel you are trying to make this a bigger issue that it is! (mountains out of mole hills?)

Anonymous said...

Just wondering why it cannot do this, specifically? Is it because of speed or performance issues such as jetwash? Or does the NG tanker not have a basket hose system? As I understand the V-22 is a drogue and basket system, so does this also mean that the NG tanker cannot refuel other Navy/Coalition aircraft that can only use the basket system as well?

Jim said...

Just to smash this argument...we can not currently refuel from "STRAT TANKERS" ie KC-135 or KC-10. Our only authorized refueling platform is the KC/MC-130series of tankers. The argument is moot...

Jim said...

The problem for the V-22, with regard to refueling from STRAT tankers, has to do with closure issues as they relate to the power required to get sufficent closure behind the basket.

Specifically, at the AR altitudes that the STRAT tankers need us to come up to, the V-22 does not posses the power margin neccessary to effect the required closure rates for AR. So, as a result, we are currently restricted from performing any STRAT AR.

Anonymous said...

The Air Force have picked the best tanker in a fair competition. Just face it. And the tanker is European. Forget about your pride. European countries buy for billions of dollars fighters, transport aircraft and helicopters in the US every year. Soon the US President will be flying in a european helicopter. Let the Air Force answer your questions, don't trust rumours, and you will see that the best have won the competition.
Niels Fogt /Royal Danish Air Force

Anonymous said...

As to the Desert One disaster. It occured because Jimmah Cahtah couldn't leave well enough alone and let the military run the show. One critical item was the failure to modify the rescue force helicopters with the engine dust filters required to operate in the intended environment.
Another thing. Any conceivable mission requiring refueling would do so under tactical conditions for which something the size of a 767/A330 is not suitable. That would be left to the KC130 fleet.

IBM1130 ( not anonymous )

Pat Riot said...

IBM1130 has it right. The reason Desert One was a disaster was that the helos were not equipped with the proper dust filters which would not happen today with our level of experience operating in a desert environment.

No way strategic tankers are refuling a V-22 in any case.

Still, it seems simple that we should be purchasing american military equipment from american companies. What next will we be buying M-1 built under license from China?