Author Topic: Stealth tankers  (Read 182 times)

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Online McColm

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Stealth tankers
« on: October 20, 2019, 03:35:27 pm »
Yes it's true the USAF is considering building stealth tankers to improve the range of the F-35 and F-22. Boeing  and Lockheed have come up with their own versions (which look whiffable if you are into kitbashing).  These are 3D models at the moment,  as airliner based refuelling tankers are seen as targets for enemy fighters.  Take out the fuel supply and the range is limited.
 Fortunately for me I have been working on a kitbash project which could be converted into a 'Stealth Tanker ', it was based on the Avro Atlantic airliner using the Airfix Avro Vulcan wings , vertical tail fin,  landing gear,  engines and rear radome with the fuselage of an extended Airfix BAe Nimrod MR.1/MR.2 kit. I have squared off the wingtips and added a section of the wing from a F-15 set at an angle.
This build is slowly being PSR and will be modified with the flying boom. I have a suitable stand as I recall that the wing is upside down.
Pictures will follow shortly as I have two weeks leave in November with one week reserved for whiffery.

Offline NARSES2

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Re: Stealth tankers
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2019, 05:52:57 am »
Can I ask a silly question ? And I am not being flippant.

If the tankers are stealthy then how does the refueling aircraft find them ? You could rendezvous at prearranged coordinates but that would mean you had no tactical flexibility whatsoever. If you turned a homing beacon on even if just for an instance then your "stealth" has gone and if you honestly believe that the frequency of any such homing beacon could be kept secret then I'll go and ..............

Is it simply a case of "unless it's stealthy, we can't charge top dollar for it" ?
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Offline Snowtrooper

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Re: Stealth tankers
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2019, 06:13:04 am »
Tankers actually do like to fly racetrack pattern in predefined coordinates, but I'll take the bait anyway...

"Stealth" does not make anything flat-out invisible to radar, it just makes things visible at a shorter range. Assuming this stealth tanker would only refuel F-22's, F-35's, and any future fighters or upgraded older fighters with an AESA radar, it means that instead of 300+ km it would be visible at 50+ km (throwing numbers out of my head just to get the general idea through). So it could circle that much closer to target area and still be undetected by interceptors and SAM's but tankees still wouldn't need to know its exact location beforehand or resort to visual sighting alone.

Instead of forcing the tankees to use their radars or the tanker to use a homing beacon, how about using a datalink to relay its position? Instead of 360 degree revolving high-power beacon you would only need a very narrow low-power beam to send the coordinates intermittently, and instead of the fighters you could send it to a ground station/AWACS/satellite which would then feed the data to the tankees. This doesn't even require any fancy new technology, datalinks were pioneered by the Swedish and adopted by the Finns long before they became fashionable and F-22's and F-35's have the capacity built in anyway.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2019, 06:14:44 am by Snowtrooper »

Offline NARSES2

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Re: Stealth tankers
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2019, 06:20:16 am »
Tankers actually do like to fly racetrack pattern in predefined coordinates,

I actually knew that, but had forgotten it for the time being  :banghead:

Interesting points "Snowtrooper"  :thumbsup:. What it does show is how far out of my depth I am when we come to discuss things that are even relatively modern. Modern technology is certainly not my strong point. It will be interesting to see what happens.
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Online Leading Observer

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Re: Stealth tankers
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2019, 06:28:15 am »
Given the current trend for UAV's, a Stealthy UAV Tanker sounds like just the ticket. Or perhaps a KB-2. Of course stealth probably goes out the window when you start deploying drogues or booms to do the refueling :banghead:
« Last Edit: October 21, 2019, 06:30:17 am by Leading Observer »
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Offline Snowtrooper

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Re: Stealth tankers
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2019, 06:40:44 am »
Another idea: this could potentially free the tankers from circling around and they could follow the strike package almost all the way to the target instead. Especially useful in Operation Opera style long-range penetration strikes.

Yes, when extended the boom will increase radar signature but "hose and basket" could be less visible (assuming here that any new tanker would be designed with dual capacity). One could perhaps add a degree of low observability to it by choosing the right materials, making it faceted or parabolic instead of rounded, and having the stabilizing fins at other than 90 degree angle. But still, even a non-stealthy boom gives a MUCH smaller radar return (and has thus lower detection range) than a conventional airliner or cargo plane on which all existing tankers are based.

Online McColm

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Re: Stealth tankers
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2019, 06:47:46 am »
Thanks Guys for the technological information  :thumbsup:

Offline kitnut617

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Re: Stealth tankers
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2019, 06:51:55 am »
And you can read all about it in a thread on SPF ------
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Offline Nick

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Re: Stealth tankers
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2019, 10:13:50 am »
Surely a drone like the X-47 or MQ-9 Reaper would do the trick?

Hang on, look at what first flew one month ago... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_MQ-25_Stingray

Offline kitnut617

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Re: Stealth tankers
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2019, 11:54:39 am »
Well, this is Lockheed's MQ-25 tanker drone, photos of which have appeared on the other forums recently. This has been tested on an aircraft carrier.

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Offline scooter

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Re: Stealth tankers
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2019, 11:59:27 am »
Drones refueling drones.  Next thing you know, they're going to start little drones, Nd then it'll be SkyNet/Cylons talking over the planet...
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