Stealth tankers for the F-35

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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avxva

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 01:55

The F-35 is designed (I think) to be an offensive weapon that can penetrate closely guarded, heavily defended and aggresively contested airspace so it can drop ordnance on high value targets that by their destruction will open that airspace up for addition less-advanced aircraft. If that is the mission, does it make sense to develop a special (very secret) fleet of stealth tankers that can operate in conjunction with the F-35?

Tankers must be easy to see with radar and the F-35 will be refueling within 500-miles of the target. Doesn't that give the attack away?

It seems to me that both the F-22 and the F-35 (and the B-2) need a secret fleet of stealth tankers for actual missions. And we should use normal tankers for everyday training.

Al
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southernphantom

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 01:58

The costs of doing this in any large numbers would be through the roof, but I could definitely see its value. I have no doubt that this would be a major asset to USAF combat ops, the $$$ factor is the only question. I would personally expect a modified NGB airframe, if not an outright roll-on roll-off module for the NGB.
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discofishing

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 02:08

What about a multirole platform that is capable of being a stealthy strategic bomber, recon aircraft, ELINT platform, stand-off jammer, and tanker all in one? Perhaps an aircraft like that would be affordable because it pays for itself in versatility.
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avxva

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 02:21

As a stop-gap, maybe a way could be found to put temporary / removeable tanks in the bomb bays of half of the B-2's. We wouldn't need many of these. I think we need a way to completely sneak up on the target--the next thing they know they have F-35's and F-22's and B-2's in their airspace all at once! And then the SSN cruise missiles start impacting and all hell breaks loose completely out of nowhere.

Al
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 02:38

There is no need as the F-35's range allows it to strike deep in enemy territory without the need of close tanker support.

This should help you visualize it's Combat Radius:

Image

In case you missed it, that's Denver to Barstow and back on one tank of gas. That does not even count standoff ranges for weapons. Add the JSOW into the mix and you're hitting the Catalina Islands.
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stereospace

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 02:45

Spud, Is that with initial wing tanks or all internal? And more importantly, why is the US Navy apparently in the planning stages for an attack on LA and Chicago from Denver??
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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 02:49

stereospace wrote:Spud, Is that with initial wing tanks or all internal? And more importantly, why is the US Navy apparently in the planning stages for an attack on LA and Chicago from Denver??


I was wondering the same thing.. I checked and the distance between Denver and Chicago is 916 miles, well beyond tue current combat radius of the C on internal fuel.
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avxva

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 02:55

What is the combat radius of the three versions--with external tanks and without?

According to Google Earth (using the distance measurement tool) the size of the circles in the above slide are:

660 nautical miles for the F-35 A (CTOL)
497 nautical miles for the F-35 B (STOVL)
734 nautical miles for the F-35 C (CV)

I was careful to use nautical miles and these are pretty tight measurements, I use Google Earth quite a bit.

Al
Last edited by avxva on 06 Apr 2012, 02:57, edited 1 time in total.
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 02:56

Internal, 612nm = 704 miles
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popcorn

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 02:57

avxva wrote:As a stop-gap, maybe a way could be found to put temporary / removeable tanks in the bomb bays of half of the B-2's. We wouldn't need many of these. I think we need a way to completely sneak up on the target--the next thing they know they have F-35's and F-22's and B-2's in their airspace all at once! And then the SSN cruise missiles start impacting and all hell breaks loose completely out of nowhere.

Al


I'd expect the SSGN/SSN force to lead the way in degrading the opposing IADS followed by stealthy aircraft.. Any long-range radars that survive the double whammy may still,possibly detect a refueling tanker at distance, but by then the cat is out of the bag anyway and their bigger,problem is dealing with inbound stealth aircraft.
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avxva

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 03:05

SpudmanWP wrote:Internal, 612nm = 704 miles

So not trying to start a fight, but the circles on the slide are somewhat exaggerated then?

Because according to Google Earth (using the distance measurement tool) the size of the circles in the slide are:

660 nautical miles for the F-35 A (CTOL)
497 nautical miles for the F-35 B (STOVL)
734 nautical miles for the F-35 C (CV)

I was careful to use nautical miles and these are pretty tight measurements, I use Google Earth quite a bit.

Al
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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 03:10

'avxva' said: "...I use Google Earth quite a bit." Congratulations. :-)
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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 03:14

Depends on what flight profile was being represented.
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delvo

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 03:17

discofishing wrote:What about a multirole platform that is capable of being a stealthy strategic bomber, recon aircraft, ELINT platform, stand-off jammer, and tanker all in one? Perhaps an aircraft like that would be affordable because it pays for itself in versatility.
Except for the tanker part, and throwing in the detail that it could fly either manned or as a giant drone, that pretty much describes the "next-generation bomber" or "long-range strike bomber", which is in the works right now. It's supposed to be ready to go less than a decade from now, without the expense and delays of inventing a whole new plane using all new technology, by poaching technology from other recent programs. Using a general wedge shape like a B-2 or one of a handful of recent small drones, but a more modern skin like F-35, it will probably be the stealthiest thing ever made.

avxva wrote:As a stop-gap, maybe a way could be found to put temporary / removeable tanks in the bomb bays of half of the B-2's.
Last I heard, that plane's hanger requirements still had it needing to be based in the USA, and in need of refueling itself in order to hit targets on the other side of the planet. Their missions in Yugoslavia, for example, involved launching from the USA and refueling over the Atlantic Ocean in both directions; their first and last refuelings in a single flight could be by the same tanker, whose crew had gone home for the night between.

The new long-range strike bomber should be able to be based at a wider variety of locations closer to most potential future targets, so putting fuel in its bomb bay to refuel fighters might be more reasonable than doing so with a B-2. But there'd still have to be some particular reason why you really need send both the bomber and the F-35(s) instead of just sending the bomber to hit the target(s) itself.

Also, I presume that letting out a hose could be about as bad for stealth as opening weapon bay doors or wheel wells or such...
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Prinz_Eugn

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Unread post06 Apr 2012, 03:19

SpudmanWP wrote:There is no need as the F-35's range allows it to strike deep in enemy territory without the need of close tanker support.

This should help you visualize it's Combat Radius:

Image

In case you missed it, that's Denver to Barstow and back on one tank of gas. That does not even count standoff ranges for weapons. Add the JSOW into the mix and you're hitting the Catalina Islands.


Circles on that map projection are wrong wrong wrong since that type of projection distorts distance between points on the map. This'll happen when people who don't know what they're doing try to make maps.

If they made circles, but using a Azimuthal Equidistant Projection (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azimuthal_equidistant_projection) centered on Denver, then they would've actually made something useful. Or used buffers correctly (which would NOT look like circles on that projection)

To be fair, this is a pretty common problem: http://blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2009/ ... in-arcmap/.
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