Archive for June, 2008

Airbus A330 tanker

Airbus A330 MRTT The Airbus A330 MRTT (multi-role tanker-transport) seen here in RAAF markings – being tested before the addition of the air refueling package.

In addition to the Australian order (5 airplanes), Airbus is currently working on these additional orders;

  • UK (RAF) – 14 aircraft (delivery in 2011, as a lease (similiar to the original Boeing 767 proposal to the USAF)
  • UAE – 3 aircraft (MOU signed in 2007)
  • Saudi Arabia – 3 aircraft (MOU signed in 2008)

I will have to hand it to the Airbus engineer’s – for their plane – they used the wing from the A340 (which was designed for 4 engines).  The refueling pods (for the probe and droque system – that everyone BUT the USAF uses) will be attached on the wings were the outboard engines would have gone.

 

Boeing’s 767 tanker


Italian spray

Originally uploaded by F/Depth Photography

The picture shows Boeing’s 767 tanker that is being built for Italy – being tested in the always-wet weather in Seattle.

The point is – that both airplanes (systems if you will, counting the refueling mechanism’s) have already been developed. So all that has to be done is to set up the production pipeline to deliver the aircraft.

(this assumes that Boeing sticks w/ the 767 airframe. There has been talk that Boeing would propose a tanker based on the 777, to add the dual role (air refueling and cargo hauling) that the USAF would really like).

 

Time to mind our own house

When the Soviet Union started to disintegrate – the US and its Allies spend millions (if not billions) of dollars to shore up the Soviet nuclear arsenal.  This was so the arsenal – and the scientists who created it – would not go to work for unfriendly countries.

But in light of recent security and accountability issues with our own Nuclear Arsenal – maybe we need to stop spending that money overseas (besides – doesn’t Russia have all of that $$$ from oil and gas sales that it is using to modernize its own forces) and spend it own beefing up our own security?

Recent issues;

B-52 flies from Minot AFB, ND to Barksdale AFB, LA w/ live nukes (5 Colonels get relieved)

– Minot AFB (home of the B-52 that flew w/ the nukes) failed its annual nuclear security review (contibuting to the Sec of AF and AF COS to be dismissed)

And now comes the latest – that US nukes stored in Europe – have the same sort of security issues that inspectors found at Minot.

I think the upcoming election – should be the least of our worries.

 

Why is the Tanker contract such a big deal?


KC135 refueling EC135

Originally uploaded by rob-the-org

Unless you have been hiding under a rock or completely oblivious to Defense mattters, you know that the GAO overturned the landmark KC-X aerial refueling (tanker) contract that the US Air Force awarded to the Northrup-Grumman/EADS (Airbus) team.

Recap:

The Air Force has needed to replace the KC-135 (based on the original Boeing 707 prototype) for the last 10 years. But the controversy around this contract was thrown into the spotlight right after 9/11 (2001).

Boeing proposed a lease of converted 767’s to the US Air Force at a reduced rate (Boeing would benefit by keeping its 767 production line open, and the Air Force would get needed planes). But the scrutiny of this deal – by none other than Republican Presidential contender, John McCain – killed this deal, and resulted in the resignations/indictments of several Air Force and Boeing officals.

When the Air Force was forced to put the contract out for bid, there was a surprise bidder. EADS (Airbus) in partnership w/ Northrup-Grumman. Initially – no one thought NGA had a chance.

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Report: Pentagon misled Congress on NORAD threat

(from the AP – and found on the SF Chronical web page)

(06-16) 23:22 PDT Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP) —

The Pentagon understated the vulnerability faced by the nation’s air and space defense command before it relocated to Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base, a newspaper reported Monday.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command moved from its longtime cave-complex home inside Cheyenne Mountain to Peterson in May. On March 3, military leaders reported to Congress that an assessment of a building at the air base that serves as the nation’s homeland security nerve center found “several physical security problems.”

But The Gazette of Colorado Springs said it obtained a classified document that was even more critical. According to the document, the assessment found “the existing security system at Peterson AFB … would fail if attacked by even a low level threat.”

The assessment was contained in a draft report by the Government Accountability Office as part of an ongoing GAO review of the March 3 report to Congress. That report never informed Congress whether security measures could ensure a maximum level of security at Peterson, as required.

The Peterson command center where NORAD started operating on May 28 requires a Protection Level 1, reserved for “those assets whose loss, theft, destruction, misuse or compromise would result in great harm to the strategic capability of the United States,” the Gazette reported.

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Mystery revealed

F-22 Flying test bed

OK I have to admit that I have been underwhelmed by the response to this post. This is a one of a kind aircraft and while it isn’t quite a ‘black’ project – the fact that it exists indicates how evolutionary this project is.

The challenge was;

  • Whose plane is it?
  • What is used for?
  • What is the original airframe?
  • Where is this plane based?

The answers;

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Welcome to Threat Axis

Good afternoon all 3 of you watching at home. Welcome to Threat Axis. A place for those of us who aren’t on the inside and in the know – to post our comments and rants about the Global Security situation around us.

Hopefully the information presented here will open your mind to what the world is like – outside your own hometown – and show that Threats can come from any direction – or Axis.

I am going to start this blog off with one of my favorites ice-breakers.

– Name that plane.

Here are two pictures of the plane in question (click on each for a slightly larger view);


To participate, please post in a comment the following info;

  • Whose plane is it?
  • What is used for?
  • What is the original airframe?
  • Where is this plane based?

First Prize – an honorary ‘Threat Axis’ Gold Star (to be worn on your fatigues when it is time to take over the Banana Republic)

The decision of the judges is final (note – bribery is allowed. A special prize will be awarded for the most creative bribe).

Good Luck!