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The latest US tanker details were exposed to check the trajectory of the aircraft. The Russian reaction is very interesting.

2018-11-03 12:15. beijing evening news TF019

According to media reports, the first KC-46A air refueling tanker of the US Air Force was scheduled to be delivered in October this year after several "bounced tickets", but because of some problems again in the September test, it can not be ensured that delivery can be delivered on time. Nevertheless, after all, they are gradually approaching deliveries, and the US air force is still full of expectations.

Talking about the birth of weapons

Aerial refueling performance of hand kneading hose

The so-called tanker is a special transport aircraft, which can load large amounts of fuel and replenish fuel to the flying aircraft (including helicopters) in the air.

Since its birth, aircraft have been valued by militarists. But the mileage and time of an aircraft depends on how much fuel it has. Cars or ships run out of fuel and can stop to wait for refueling. When the aircraft is empty, it has to fall from the air, so fuel is more important. If we have to return to the ground to replenish fuel every time, we will not only waste time, but also be confined to the premises. In addition, if bombers loaded with ammunition are landed with bombs, there is a risk of explosion. In this case, the tanker came into being.

The first air refueling was born in the United States. In 1921, American Willy Mey tied the jar with 5 gallons of aviation gasoline on his back, climbed from the wing of a Lincoln aircraft to the wing of another JN - 24 Jeanne aircraft, then poured the aviation gasoline into the fuel tank of the engine. Of course, this is aerial acrobatics.

The first time that an airplane refuels a plane is in 1923. In California, two aircraft are flying in the air. The distance between the two planes remains unchanged. The above plane hangs a hose of over 10 meters long. Under the plane, a crew member stands in the cockpit. He reaches for the hose and pluggs the fuel tank of his aircraft. Then, fuel is injected along the hose into the fuel tank of the aircraft below. This kind of aerial refueling, which relies entirely on hand kneading hoses, is very unstable, difficult to operate and of little practical value. But with this as an opportunity, countries began to study specialized air refueling equipment, and use heavy bombers or transport planes to be converted into tankers.

When refueling, the first two aircraft must fly before and after one flight, keeping the same speed and constant distance. Then, the dispenser slowly releases the refueling pipe, and the oil receiver "goes up", establishes a connection with the fuel pipe, and then delivers fuel.

In 1933, a Soviet TB 1 bomber used the refueling equipment developed by A.H. in the town of jalaldo, to carry out aerial refueling for a P 5 reconnaissance aircraft. In 1934, the United States also developed aerial refueling equipment. During the Second World War, aerial refueling technology began to be used in actual combat. In the middle of 40s, Britain developed a more mature hose and plug cone sleeve equipment. In 1948, the US Air Force installed the UK's refueling equipment on its own KB-29 and KB-50 tankers. In March 2, 1949, the US's B 50 bomber flew 37532 kilometers, completed the global week, and experienced the 4 air refueling of KB 29 m refueling aircraft.

In the early 50s, the United States developed more advanced refueling equipment - hard tube type (telescopic casing). Compared to the fluttering hose, the refueling equipment is more stable, but at the same time, the synchronization requirements for the two aircraft are also higher. Soon, the Soviet Union also developed similar refueling equipment. Aerial refueling technology has been further improved. In 1957, the 5 B 52 strategic bombers of the US Army completed more than 40 hours' round the world flight, so 98 KC 97 refueling machines were launched to fuel them.

Talking about military matters

How to use fuel hose and hard tube

Most of the tankers are converted from transport planes and bombers, with the advantages of large loading capacity, high loading capacity, strong recharge capability, and a small part of which are converted from fighter planes, with the advantage of being flexible and convenient for refueling the same type of fighters.

The refueling equipment of the refueling machine has two kinds of "refueling platform" and "refueling pod" according to location. The refueling platform is mounted on the rear of the fuselage, while the refueling pod is suspended below the wing. According to the shape of connector, there are two kinds of hose and hard tube.

The modern hose type air refueling equipment was first developed by the United Kingdom in the late 40s, including a hose of over 20 meters long, retractable by a winch and a funnel-shaped floating anchor at the end. The receiver needs to install an oil tube in front of the nose or wing. At the time of refueling, the tanker uses the winch to release the hose outside the aircraft, and the oil receiver is inserted into the funnel through the oil pipe of the aircraft, and the two are sealed and connected, and then the fuel can be started. After the charging is completed, the engine is slowed down, the plug and the hopper are automatically separated, and the two planes are separated.

The advantage of the hose filling equipment is that the structure is very simple. Secondly, a tanker can release several hoses at the same time, and fuel several planes. Even if there are some deviations between the two movements, the flexibility of the hose can also ensure the safety of connection. The disadvantage is that plugs should be inserted into hoses, which are more difficult for pilots and difficult to connect when subjected to turbulence. At the same time, because the hose itself has limited bearing capacity, the speed of refueling is relatively slow, and it can lose more than 1 tons of fuel per minute. It will take a longer time to meet the larger fuel consumption aircraft. At present, there are S-3B, KC-130, 707-200 and so on.

The hard tube dispenser is later than the hose, and was used in December 1949. The hard pipe of the refueling machine is a telescopic rigid telescopic tube, which is normally retracted and extended when it is refueling. It can move up and down horizontally and horizontally in a certain range, and is operated by full-time refueling personnel. When refueling, the refueling engine first extends the truss and then gets caught by the oil aircraft, so that the distance between the two machines is very close. At this time, the oil operated aircraft is not moving, and the refueling operator controls the expansion and rotation of the fuel rod to connect the oil receiving pipe on the oil receiver. It can be seen that the biggest improvement of the hard tube refueling is not that the oil machine is chasing and swaying the fuel hoses, but that the special person operates the oil pipe to insert the oil receiver. This is obviously easier to operate than aircraft tracking.

In addition, a mixture of "soft and hard balance", such as the KC-135 series of the US air force, has developed a funnel hose device at the end of the fuel rod. In this way, the aircraft with two types of oil receiver can be refueling at the same time.

Talking about soldiers and brilliant war history

Sneak attack on Egypt after aerial refueling

During the cold war, aerial refueling technology was gradually mature and was widely applied in actual combat. As the saying goes, "soldiers do not move, food and grass first", for the air force, fuel is the most important food and grass. Depending on the replenish of the tanker, the voyage and air residence time of the fighter can be extended, and even tactical roundabout can be implemented to surprise the enemy.

In the third Middle East war in 1967, Israel attacked Egypt. After the takeoff, the Israeli fighter did not directly attack the eastern part of Egypt in the southwest. Instead, it went west to the West. It first crossed the Mediterranean Sea. After refueling in the air, it went to the west of Egypt and killed Egypt from behind and destroyed the more than 400 Egyptian airports in one fell swoop.

In the Ma island war, the British and Argentine troops used aerial refueling aircraft to expand the operational radius of their own air force. Britain goes all the way to war. In order to guarantee air supremacy, the relay implemented by the tanker is very important besides the carrier borne aircraft carrier. Its "Fire God" bomber took off from the base of the Atlantic and attacked the Ma Island Airport 5000 kilometers away after refueling in the air. Argentina's "super flag" fighter also sinks down the Sheffield missile destroyer and the "the Atlantic transporter" container ship after refueling in the air.

In 1986, the United States bombed Al-qaddafi in Libya, and the F-111 fighter bomber took off from the British base. After 8 refueling flights by 29 tankers, the more than 7000 km raid was carried out, destroying Libya's missile base in one fell swoop. During the Gulf War, the US Army invested thousands of planes in bombardment of Iraq, using 308 refueling aircraft and completing over 5 thousands of aerial refueling missions. During the Kosovo war, 240 aerial tankers deployed by NATO carried out 14 thousand aerial refueling operations. Since then, whether the Afghan war, the Iraq war or the Syria war, the capability of the US Army's "overseas long-range strike" has been attached more importance.

Talking about the process of coming out

KC-46A came out with twists and turns

KC-46A is an improved refueling machine based on Boeing 767, and is a new generation of products used by the US Army to replace C-135 tankers. However, its advent can be described as twists and turns.

Due to frequent military intervention in regional affairs, there is a great demand for long-range operations. At present, the US Army has one of the largest refueling forces in the world, including more than 400 KC-135 tankers modified by C-135 transporters. The aircraft was first served in 1956, and the latest one was also served in 1964, that is to say, it has been serving for more than 50 years now. Although many generations have been upgraded, the C-135 is very old and the annual maintenance is huge. The US Army also has more than 50 KC-10 tankers, which were first served in 1981, relatively new, but too big and cumbersome, not suitable for large scale armaments. Therefore, the US Army is in urgent need of a new tanker.

As a replacement, Boeing's refueling aircraft modified on the basis of 767-200 commercial aircraft was named KC-767A in 2002. However, in December 2003, the contract was terminated because of corruption scandals.

Nevertheless, KC-767A's technology is fine. The Italy air force and the Japanese air self defense force ordered 4 KC-767 respectively. It can be said that basically mature products. In 2005, KC-767 flew first. It has Boeing advanced air refueling pipe and "remote air refueling operator II system", which can fuel all the Western fighters at present, and can replenish 8 fighters at most, and fuel 20% more than KC-135.

Because the KC-767 is stopped mainly because of political problems rather than technical problems, the US military's demand for new tankers is imminent. So in February 2011, the US Air Force chose Boeing KC-767 again. Just to distinguish it from last scandal. This time the model is named KC-46A. Compared with KC-767, KC-46 has been completely designed and greatly improved in performance. 2011 of the orders include 179 KC-46A.

In December 28, 2014, KC-46A's prototype flew for the first time in 35 hours. Since then, test flights have been repeated many times. However, perhaps because KC-46A is trying to make up for some deficiencies in the use of KC-767, and these improvements have brought new conditions, the delivery date has been postponed. The earliest plan was to be delivered in 2016 and later to 2017. The last plan was to be delivered in October 2018. However, the situation may not be completed on time. In addition, due to the price increase caused by the longer cycle, the current orders have been reduced from the earliest 179 to 34, and the unit price is as high as 147 million 400 thousand US dollars.

Talk about troops. Iron wing oil depot

KC-46A performance parameters and uses

As the newest type of aerial refueling aircraft in the world, KC-46A has not only improved significantly compared with KC-135, but also improved its KC-767 compared with its aborted contract. The design includes a digital flight deck with Boeing 787Dreamliner electronic display screen, which enables the crew to directly conduct the command through the display screen and improve the maneuverability of the combat. The tanker also has advanced KC-10 refueling boom to improve fuel efficiency and flight line control system.

KC-46A uses the wide body aircraft layout of commercial aircraft 767-2C, with two pilots and 1 refueling operators. The captain is 50.5 meters, the wingspan is 47.6 meters, the height is 15.9 meters, the empty weight is 82 tons, the maximum take-off quality is 188 tons, the oil load is 96 tons (more than 20 tons higher than KC-767), and the maximum refueling capacity is 94 tons.

The PW4062 engine is powered by 282 engines with a thrust of 1000 kV. The maximum speed is 0.86 Maher, cruising speed is 0.8 Maher. The maximum lift height is 12200 meters, and the maximum range is 12000 km (more than 4000 km higher than that of KC-135). It can also accept aerial refueling from other aircraft, and it can surround the world after refueling.

KC-46A is equipped with an advanced flight control refueling pipe upgraded from KC-10 refueling pipe. The main equipment is the refueling hard pipe, which can carry 1200 gallons of oil per minute (about 4500 liters), which is 300 gallons more than that of KC-767, and has the capability of full time independent disconnection and full time load reduction. In addition, the KC-46A dispenser also has 3 hoses and refueling equipment. The speed of each hose is 400 gallons (about 1500 liters per minute). 3 hoses and refueling equipment are controlled by pods. The fuel handling platform is carried out by the 3D display image generated by the photoelectric system. The technical content has been greatly improved, and the operation convenience and reliability have reached a new stage.

In addition to aerial refueling, KC-46A can make use of its powerful carrying capacity and change its use as a transport aircraft. In addition, KC-46A has used new materials such as graphite carbon fiber and Kevlar, which has better structural strength and service life and lower empty weight. KC-46A is able to seamlessly link up with the US defense transportation system while carrying cargo, and can also be compatible with the US Air Force loaders. In carrying out the medical evacuation task, he can evacuated 54 patients and related equipment at once, and equipped with oxygen and emergency power supply.

Another major improvement of military aircraft relative to civilian aircraft is self defense. KC-46A uses radar warning receiver, cockpit armor protection, Link-16 data link and digital display. In addition, there are electromagnetic pulse protection and infrared countermeasures equipment, and the battlefield survivability is good.

Talking about international connections:

Old rivals are also developing new tankers -- IL -78 series.

As an old rival of the United States, the Russian army has recently developed a new tanker, -78M-90A. In November 29, 2017, the prototype of the first IL -78M-90A tanker was held at the "aviation star -SP" aviation plant in Ulyanovsk. The tanker was developed on the basis of the -76MD-90A military transport aircraft. According to the Russian military requirements, this tanker must be able to switch to the performance of the transport aircraft, and fire equipment can be installed under the necessary conditions.

IL -78M-90A is the latest model of the IL -78 series tanker. IL 78 was converted from the IL -76 military transport plane and served in 1987. The -78 is 46.6 meters long, 14.8 meters high, wingspan 50.5 meters, empty weight 98 tons, the maximum take-off weight of 190 tons, the maximum speed of 0.77 Maher, the distance from 12000 meters, the maximum fuel supply is 65 tons, 1000 kilometers when sailing for other aircraft fuel 60 tons. Since then, the voyage of the improved IL 78-M has been greatly improved, with the addition of third metal tanks, the maximum fuel supply has increased to 106 tons. Before the break-up of the Soviet Union, 45 -78 and IL -78M tankers were built. At present, the Russian army still has about 20 troops in service. However, these two types of tankers are all hosed by hoses.

The improved Er -78M, i. e. -78M-90A, uses more advanced airborne equipment and refueling devices, plus the L370 "Vitebsk" airborne active defense system / directional infrared countermeasure system, which can cope with the threat of infrared and laser guided missiles.

The British side is launching the future strategic refueling (FSTA) project, which plans to purchase 30 tankers to replace 24 old VC-10 and 10 L10-11. The British air force now has 3 refueling squadron. Its main type is the self-made vc-10K "winner". Its captain is 48.36 meters, the wingspan is 44.55 meters, the height is 12.04 meters, the empty weight is 63 tons, the maximum take-off weight is 152 tons, the maximum range is 9400 kilometers, and was developed in 1978.


Source: Beijing evening news Yang Yi

Editor: TF019

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