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More KC-46A woes....

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More KC-46A woes....

Old 20th Mar 2015, 21:57
  #221 (permalink)  
 
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Sorry - thread drift - F35 rather than KC-46, but following previous comment...........................

the Air Force, Navy AND Marines have bought it speaks volumes about how well it has been marketed
Did they do so willingly, or was it forced upon them?
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Old 20th Mar 2015, 22:17
  #222 (permalink)  
 
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Perish the thought, BomberH.

They were merely told that no other U.S. fighter would be available after the Super Hornet, which has constrained their options.
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Old 21st Mar 2015, 08:55
  #223 (permalink)  
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Agree, not sure what axe ORAC is trying to grind.
No axe to grind, just looking at the dwindling industrial base and interest in sales.

Maybe with the growth in the civil market and the hassle with the DoD it's just not worth keeping a design team together any more. I'm not the first to say so, there is enough concern for a push to award design contracts for a few prototypes from each company just to keep the teams together. That seems to be what's happening with Sikorsky.

Unless more orders turn up the F-15 and F-18 production lines will shortly close - leaving LM as the sole surviving FJ manufacturer, and with one aircraft type after the F-16 line closes around 2020.

There's been a lot of sucked teeth about helicopter production with sales being concentrated on old models and little or no new designs, just upgrades.

CH-47 Chinook? first flew 1961. UH-60 - 1976.

Same for transports, with the C-17 line closer the C-130 is the sole tactical lift aircraft in production - first flight 1954.

The next generation bomber will also be built in handfuls, supplementing B-52s older than their pilots grandfathers.

Analyst: Itís the End of an Era for Military Aviation Industry

Not pushing European manufacturers, their production lines and models are in even worse state.

AW&ST: Editorial: Spinning Sikorsky, Bowing To Wall Street

......And Sikorsky is profitable. But with the military market in a downturn and its margins capped by the Defense Department, the problem is that it is not making enough money to keep Wall Street happy. It cannot keep up with its two larger sister units, Pratt & Whitney and United Technologies Aerospace Systems, which are suppliers rather than platform builders and have much more exposure to commercial markets. Gregory Hayes, UTCís new shareholder-focused CEO, notes that Sikorskyís operating margins of about 10% and projected sales growth are significantly lower than for the companyís other businesses.

Still, UTC stood by Sikorsky in much more difficult times, and we find managementís decision to jettison a perfectly good business troubling. During the global economic downturn, Sikorskyís robust gains in sales and profits helped offset, to a degree, large declines at the companyís non-aerospace businesses.

The move is emblematic of a shift in the aerospace and defense industry where pleasing shareholders has become paramount, even at the expense of funding research in new technologies and products to ensure long-term competitiveness. Frank Kendall, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition, has worried aloud that some contractors are mainly interested in generating returns in as little as one or two years......

Last edited by ORAC; 21st Mar 2015 at 09:08.
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Old 21st Mar 2015, 18:10
  #224 (permalink)  
 
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"pleasing shareholders has become paramount,"

well to be fair it IS their money.......

You could argue that if Sikorsky is so damn important to the State then the State should either pay a reasonable amount or run their own helicopter construction business.......................
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Old 23rd Mar 2015, 13:15
  #225 (permalink)  
 
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Quote:
Agree, not sure what axe ORAC is trying to grind. No axe to grind, just looking at the dwindling industrial base and interest in sales.

Maybe with the growth in the civil market and the hassle with the DoD it's just not worth keeping a design team together any more. I'm not the first to say so, there is enough concern for a push to award design contracts for a few prototypes from each company just to keep the teams together. That seems to be what's happening with Sikorsky.

Unless more orders turn up the F-15 and F-18 production lines will shortly close - leaving LM as the sole surviving FJ manufacturer, and with one aircraft type after the F-16 line closes around 2020.

There's been a lot of sucked teeth about helicopter production with sales being concentrated on old models and little or no new designs, just upgrades.

CH-47 Chinook? first flew 1961. UH-60 - 1976.

Same for transports, with the C-17 line closer the C-130 is the sole tactical lift aircraft in production - first flight 1954.

The next generation bomber will also be built in handfuls, supplementing B-52s older than their pilots grandfathers.

Analyst: Itís the End of an Era for Military Aviation Industry

Not pushing European manufacturers, their production lines and models are in even worse state.

AW&ST: Editorial: Spinning Sikorsky, Bowing To Wall Street

......And Sikorsky is profitable. But with the military market in a downturn and its margins capped by the Defense Department, the problem is that it is not making enough money to keep Wall Street happy. It cannot keep up with its two larger sister units, Pratt & Whitney and United Technologies Aerospace Systems, which are suppliers rather than platform builders and have much more exposure to commercial markets. Gregory Hayes, UTCís new shareholder-focused CEO, notes that Sikorskyís operating margins of about 10% and projected sales growth are significantly lower than for the companyís other businesses.

Still, UTC stood by Sikorsky in much more difficult times, and we find managementís decision to jettison a perfectly good business troubling. During the global economic downturn, Sikorskyís robust gains in sales and profits helped offset, to a degree, large declines at the companyís non-aerospace businesses.

The move is emblematic of a shift in the aerospace and defense industry where pleasing shareholders has become paramount, even at the expense of funding research in new technologies and products to ensure long-term competitiveness. Frank Kendall, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition, has worried aloud that some contractors are mainly interested in generating returns in as little as one or two years......
ORAC, that does make sense.

I also feel that the "gold plating" has really hurt the US manufacturing programs. With the insistence that these aircraft have to do everything superbly you cost yourself out very quickly.

F-22, F-35, Osprey, Commanche, Marine One.....

I am a believer in the high-low concept, and do understand that you need some assets that are capable of first day of war, first world peer, conflict, but I think the USA is has found itselft in the hi-hi concept. The F-35 is way beyond the orginal concpet of an affordable replacement for several airframes. Undoubetdly it will be capable, but it will do so at the expense of other aircraft. Others will be retired early, or there will be no appetite or funding for new complemtray designs.

As you say when there is only fighter in town, competition withers and dies.

I would like to see more money in R&D, more in alternative concepts (like back up engines), real fly-offs, and some "good enough" programs. Yes it costs you more up front.

I would like to see an A-10 replacement program, and I think we see now a stand alone Harrier repleacment would have been preferred over the compromiosed F-35B. The US Army high speed lift lift looks like a good model. Pushes the envelope, but within reason.
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Old 23rd Mar 2015, 19:13
  #226 (permalink)  
 
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Did they do so willingly, or was it forced upon them?
Willing? Depends on your definition of "willing".

The Marines wanted a replacement for their Harriers. The Marines lobbied hard to get a STOVL version of the F-35. And they consider the Super Hornet to be "too much airplane", so they also need a replacement for their "Classic Hornets". Indeed, the Marines were in charge of the whole F-35 program for quite awhile. Is that "willing"?

The Navy wanted an all-aspect stealth fighter (their Super Hornets are only stealthy in the forward aspect) for "first day of the war" missions against intense highly networked air defenses. The Navy lobbied hard to get a CATOBAR version of the F-35. Indeed NAVAIR is running a big part of the F-35 program. Is that "willing"?

The Navy will have more Super Hornets than F-35s for a long long time. Not until the follow on to the F-35 is available (the 6th generation fighter) will the Navy get rid of their Super Hornets. Indeed, the F-35 is only scheduled to replace the Navy's "Classic Hornets" and no Super Hornets. The Navy wants the additional range and payload of the Super Hornet over the F-35 and really wants a two-seat aircraft for some of its missions. And although the F-35 has an excellent electronic warfare capability, they still want the dedicated electronic warfare Growler version of the Super Hornet. Is that "willing"?
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Old 23rd Mar 2015, 19:31
  #227 (permalink)  
 
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As you say when there is only fighter in town, competition withers and dies.
Only one fighter in town? What about the F-15, F-16, F-18, Typhoon, Rafale, Gripen, Su-30, etc? Seems to me there are currently lots of fighters in town. If (a huge if) the F-35 captures the whole market and pushes aside all the others, that will be because it has out-competed them. Personally, I don't see that happening. Especially when you look at the specs for the Trainer-X (T-X), which will have far superior turning performance than the F-35. For anyone who does not need a stealthy fighter, that airplane will likely be eye-watering.
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Old 23rd Mar 2015, 20:58
  #228 (permalink)  
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What about the F-15, F-16, F-18, Typhoon, Rafale, Gripen, Su-30, etc? Seems to me there are currently lots of fighters in town. If (a huge if) the F-35 captures the whole market and pushes aside all the others, that will be because it has out-competed them. Personally, I don't see that happening. Especially when you look at the specs for the Trainer-X (T-X), which will have far superior turning performance than the F-35. For anyone who does not need a stealthy fighter, that airplane will likely be eye-watering.
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Old 23rd Mar 2015, 21:27
  #229 (permalink)  
 
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And they consider the Super Hornet to be "too much airplane", so they also need a replacement for their "Classic Hornets".

Errrm - the F-35B is near-as-dammit the same OEW/thrust/internal fuel as the Super H. It can't carry as much or go as far, and it's not as maneuverable, but makes up for this by being much more expensive.
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Old 31st May 2015, 12:59
  #230 (permalink)  
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Further KC-46A delays....

Well, it looks like the KC-46A first flight date has slipped yet further. Having missed its April 2015 first flight date, that's now stated to be happening 'later this summer'.....

EMD-1, a 767-2C, has finally flown again but without any boom or pods. It's supposed to fly with those 'in the coming weeks' to certify the -2C's airworthiness before the KC-46A can fly.

Which gives ol' bubba Boeing less than 2 years to progress from first flight to the contracted delivery date for 18 operational aircraft.
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Old 31st May 2015, 15:21
  #231 (permalink)  
 
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There's no freude like Schadenfreude...

Someday, the story about how the Big B messed up something that they had already done twice before will be told.

If I had to guess at root causes (with some help from Boeing's subsequent actions) I would look inside Boeing Commercial. Busy with a lot of programs, of which the tanker may be the least important to Commercial, and hence the least likely to springboard one's career, particularly since it involves learning a lot of Pentagon lore and culture that you wouldn't expect to use again.

So when Tanker went looking for people from commercial programs, did they get sent the best, or the people their leads wanted to get shot of?

That may well have been even more important than the Frankentanker factor.
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Old 31st May 2015, 18:04
  #232 (permalink)  
 
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Someday, the story about how the Big B messed up something that they had already done twice before will be told.
Three times, no? KC-135, KC-767, & KC-10 (they inherited the prime, so must retain the knowledge base).
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Old 31st May 2015, 19:51
  #233 (permalink)  
 
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Three times, no? KC-135, KC-767, & KC-10 (they inherited the prime, so must retain the knowledge base).
So who made the KC-97 then, and, for that matter the KB-29P and KB-50?

Last edited by Mechta; 31st May 2015 at 20:10. Reason: KB-29 edited to KB-29P
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Old 31st May 2015, 19:59
  #234 (permalink)  
 
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I meant in-service platforms whose technology is relevant to the KC-46A, but point taken.
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Old 1st Jun 2015, 15:29
  #235 (permalink)  
 
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Boeing managed to make the KC747 work.

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Old 1st Jun 2015, 15:59
  #236 (permalink)  
 
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There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding as to what the KC-46 is. It is NOT a modified 767 freighter or even a warmed over KC-767. It is a very different airplane in many ways. The FIRST thing that must be done is the basic commercial configuration, the 767-2C, must be FAA certified. Only after that is done can the military stuff be added and the military stuff certified.

As for "past" Boeing tankers and the KC-46, yeah, there's a lot of handwringing inside Boeing on that subject. The KC-767 had a modified and "upgraded" KC-135 boom. So did the early KC-46 proposals. But Airbus's boom was significantly better. Attempts to further improve the KC-135 boom to match Airbus' boom failed and so Boeing switched to a modified version of the KC-10 Advanced Refueling Boom. In other words, a "Not Invented Here" (in Seattle) Douglas(!) product. Lots of political consternation and last minute engineering.

And what's with this "Frankentanker" business? Do you Airbus folks realize the A330MRTT was kludged together from stuff from the A300, A310, A320, and A330? At least Boeing used (mostly) 767 stuff to build their "Frankentanker" and not bits from four completely different airliners.
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Old 1st Jun 2015, 16:41
  #237 (permalink)  
 
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I'm surprised at the apparent difficulty in (re)designing a modern boom, especially when legacy hardware has been doing an adequate job for 60+ years. What improvements to the newer booms provide? (Greater flow, controllability, reliability?)

What makes it such a challenge?
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Old 1st Jun 2015, 18:32
  #238 (permalink)  
 
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I'm surprised at the apparent difficulty in (re)designing a modern boom, especially when legacy hardware has been doing an adequate job for 60+ years.
That's exactly what Boeing thought - at first. That's why they stuck to the KC-135 boom - at first. But when Airbus's proposal included a significantly better boom (much larger safe operating envelope) and the KC-135 could not match it, Boeing went to the KC-10 boom, which was equal to the Airbus boom. The "problem" with that boom was that it was invented in Long Beach by Douglas, and not in Seattle by Boeing. Internal politics in a big company like Boeing can be fierce. But eventually "One Boeing" (a constant mantra being pushed by Corporate HQ in Chicago) won out. As far as integrating the KC-10 boom into the KC-46, that was not too difficult, although it was done rather last minute. And that is NOT what is driving the delays. The delays are being driven by all the other "stuff" USAF wants in the airplane ("stuff" that requires an additional 50 miles of wires and 15.8 million lines of software code). The new wiring got designed and installed wrong and needed to be redesigned and reinstalled.
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Old 1st Jun 2015, 21:33
  #239 (permalink)  
 
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By "twice before" I meant 767 tankers.

Do you Airbus folks realize the A330MRTT was kludged together from stuff from the A300, A310, A320, and A330?

Not an Airbus folk, but no, I don't know that.

Because it isn't remotely true.

The MRTT is a reasonably straightforward development of the A330-200F, which in turn is a normal, commercially certificated freight derivative of the A330-200, which is a successful airliner. Yes, there are genes from the A300/320 in there, because that's the way Airbus grew the family, but it is in no way comparable to a 767-2C.
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Old 2nd Jun 2015, 18:48
  #240 (permalink)  
 
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The MRTT is a reasonably straightforward development of the A330-200F, which in turn is a normal, commercially certificated freight derivative of the A330-200, which is a successful airliner. Yes, there are genes from the A300/320 in there, because that's the way Airbus grew the family, but it is in no way comparable to a 767-2C.
We'll have to agree to disagree on that. The A330 sprang directly from the A300B9 and the A340 from the A300B11. The B9 and B11 programs were merged and renamed TA9 and TA11. The fuselage and empennage and many (most?) systems came directly from the A300, making the A330 essentially an A300-600 with two additional barrel sections and a new wing, but one based directly on the A300 wing after the variable camber wing and laminar flow wing were both rejected. The A330 freighter door came directly from the A310 freighter, and the A330's avionics came directly from the A320, including all the displays, many cockpit panels, and the sidestick controllers.

And I agree, this development cycle and pedigree is "in no way comparable to a 767-2C." Boeing definitely uses a different approach. But since the A330MRTT uses bits from unrelated airplanes and even held over bits from now dead airplanes, that seems to me to be far more Frankensteinish than the KC-46 which derives its bits from various versions of the still alive 767.
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