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Britain's Air to Air Refuelling Capability

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Britain's Air to Air Refuelling Capability

Old 1st May 2016, 14:47
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Britain's Air to Air Refuelling Capability

Was having a look around the web to see if I could find any info on delivery dates for the P8 for the RAF and found this.



Airhead defence chiefs have admitted ordering nine spy planes that are incompatible with the RAF’s in-flight refuelling tankers.



The version of the Airbus 330 MRTT tanker ordered by the Royal Air Force does not have any provision for the “boom and receptacle”

refueling system used by the US Air Force and US Navy.
This is not the case for Australia, whose RAAF has just completed refueling trials of its own Airbus
KC-30A tankers, which are fitted with an 18‑metre-long advanced refueling boom system, and which can thus refuel any
Western aircraft.
The RAF’s selection of a degraded tanker means it can only refuel other aircraft using the drogue-and-boom system,
and so cannot refuel most US combat and support aircraft.)


MY understanding is that they CANNOT refuel the current new RC-135s "Airseeker" either -

The RAF cannot refuel its new £650million spy planes in mid-air, it has been revealed.In a fresh humiliation for the Ministry of Defence, it emerged that Britain must rely on other
nations to fill up the RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft once it is in the skies.
Military analysts warned that crucial reconnaissance missions could be jeopardised by the UK's failure to act independently.

So what is going on inside the MoD and the RAF. Perhaps the Daily Mail has got it right in the use of the word "Airhead"

We have new tankers that cant refuel our latest assets
We have new assets that we have to rely on others to keep in the air.
We have aircraft carriers and no planes....
When the planes are likely to be delivered, I have no doubt the aircraft carriers will be in dock for a re-fit.......

We must be the laughing stock of the world's air forces.
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Old 2nd May 2016, 10:22
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This is a daily mail story!
Have they got a major scoop here and have secretly realised that the UK has two operational carriers with no aircraft, while the rest of the world sees the two carriers still being built, not operational in any way yet.
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Old 2nd May 2016, 13:29
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Bang up to date with the news I see
http://www.pprune.org/military-aviat...vet-joint.html

http://www.pprune.org/military-aviat...ager-boom.html
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Old 2nd May 2016, 16:52
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I'm sure that if the MOD really wanted a boom, AirTanker would happily oblige.
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Old 2nd May 2016, 17:50
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04 April 2016 - The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is interested in provisioning its Airbus Defence and Space (DS) A330-200 Voyager tanker-transport aircraft with a boom, if the funding can be sourced, a senior service official told reporters.

Speaking at the FIDAE Airshow in Santiago on 30 March, Deputy Commander of Operations Air Marshal Greg Bagwell said the operational case for equipping at least some of the UK's Voyagers with a boom has already been accepted by the service, but that there is currently no money available for the conversion work that would need to be done to the hose-and-drogue-equipped aircraft.

"If money were no object and I could wave a magic wand, I would put a boom on a Voyager tomorrow," AM Bagwell said, adding; "The flexibility that it provides is obvious, especially in an interoperable environment, but it all comes down to practical delivery and cost."
UK RAF shows interest in Voyager boom | IHS Jane's 360
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Old 2nd May 2016, 18:50
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Limitation was known was at the outset prior to procurement. Balanced field calcs conducted, and guess what for endurance/range synopsis and National Sortie effect...?
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Old 3rd May 2016, 09:16
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If the MOD wanted a boom, now would be a good time to get one. It works and aircraft deliveries start to new customers soon.
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Old 3rd May 2016, 12:20
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We must be the laughing stock of the world's air forces.
Please elaborate.
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Old 3rd May 2016, 13:24
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No, no, please don't.
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Old 3rd May 2016, 20:37
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There is no need to elaborate.
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Old 3rd May 2016, 22:07
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This new MRA thingy, based on a 737, what kind of AAR kit is on that?
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Old 4th May 2016, 01:21
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Airpolice, the P-8 is equiped to recieve fuel from a flying boom equipped tanker. Not fitted currently to recived via probe and drogue.

I would think bolting a refueling probe to the cockpit roof of the UK P-8's and Rivet Joints would be the way to go (yes I know a bit more is involved). Roof/nose probes have been done for Nimrod, E-3, Tri-Star, Vulcan (and re-done!), C-130, A-400, VC-10, etc.

Not that far of a plumbing run from a new probe to the fuel lines used for the boom recepticle...

Last edited by sandiego89; 4th May 2016 at 01:59.
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Old 4th May 2016, 01:36
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As the saying goes ignorance is bliss....
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Old 4th May 2016, 04:51
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So the RAF now has what, five large aircraft that are far more suitable for or can only be refuelled by a boom equipped tanker.


What exactly was the point of specifying a different A330 tanker than any other air force ?


I mean it's pretty simple isn't it, if you have a boom and a drogue system you've covered all your bets and can refuel anything with the capacity to do so.



Was it really to save a few pounds ?



Sure you could bolt a probe on the P8 but doesn't a boom provide a far more stable contact and a far higher delivery rate ?



Let me guess they may have even paid extra to delete the boom.
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Old 4th May 2016, 05:50
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Stilton,

You have to look at the timeline, when we 'bought' the A330 and defined its requirements the Nimrod was being replaced by the ..... Nimrod, which was to be fitted with a probe.

The P8 argument is completely irrelevant as it was not In the procurement equation and therefore irrelevant to the boom v drogue argument.

What are the 5 large aircraft you refer to? I can only think of P8, Rivet-joint and C-17, I don't include Voyager in this as its not really a requirement! The Hercules, A400 and Sentry all use drogue.
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Old 4th May 2016, 06:47
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The RAF doesn't own any AAR assets these days. There are 14 aircraft available under the PFI solution, of which 9 are 'core' and the other 5 are available for AirTanker to lease to other users, or to operate in its own right as commercial air transport.

But there are 2 Voyager variants. The KC2 has 2 wing pods, whereas the KC3 also has a centreline hose. One Voyager is to be converted for the VIP role, the cost of which will be recovered from reduced VIP leasing requirements.

The Globemaster, Poseidon, Rivet Joint and Sentry all have UARRSI receptacles, but the RAF cannot currently refuel with this system. The Sentry is also probe equipped, as are Atlas and Hercules.

With such a mixed fleet of tanker variants and receiver AAR systems, there is no easy solution. Fitting a boom to some of the Voyagers seems obvious enough, as it would also mean improved interoperability with non-RAF UARRSI aircraft. But there would be a significant training requirement as few RAF aircrew have experience of the boom system (apart from the dreadful KC-135 BDA which I remember jousting against in a Q-fit 8 missile / 3 tank F-4, having been given neither a brief nor dual trip... ). Keeping boom operators current might also be a problem.

But it seems that the RAF simply doesn't have the budget to meet any Voyager boom acquisition need. A boom isn't something which can be quickly supplied under a UOR programme, so the provision of organic AAR for all national assets isn't to be taken lightly.

Maybe a small number (3?) 'pre-owned' aircraft could be acquired and operated in the boom AAR role only? Perhaps - but the RAF is so small these days that manning such a fleet wouldn't be easy. Then there's the matter of AirTanker's 'exclusivity' clause.....

It's indeed a mess.
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Old 4th May 2016, 08:05
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Let's hope the Ruskkie charter company doesn't lease the remaining AirTanker assets in the run up to a crisis and manage to reduce the UK's tanker assets to 9/14 of capacity.
No need to try and shoot them down, just lease 'em and park 'em up in some Black Sea holiday destination.
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Old 4th May 2016, 09:17
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Originally Posted by stilton View Post
So the RAF now has what, five large aircraft that are far more suitable for or can only be refuelled by a boom equipped tanker.

What exactly was the point of specifying a different A330 tanker than any other air force ?

I mean it's pretty simple isn't it, if you have a boom and a drogue system you've covered all your bets and can refuel anything with the capacity to do so.

Was it really to save a few pounds ?

Sure you could bolt a probe on the P8 but doesn't a boom provide a far more stable contact and a far higher delivery rate ?

Let me guess they may have even paid extra to delete the boom.
Oh God, here we go again. First there were the dinosaurs.......

In procurement in the late 90s/early 00s Defence was not allowed to buy stuff that provided "interoperability" (fortunately common sense has now prevailed and interoperability needs to be considered). The AAR experts stated a requirement for a boom which would allow interoperability; but we, the UK, at the time did not have a national requirement for a boom; the only aircraft we had that could use a boom were 4 leased C-17s - they were barred from AAR by the terms of the lease - and E-3D - and that was bisexual. No requirement meant no funding and so the boom requirement was deleted from the FSTA requirement. Remember, back then (15-20 years ago) all of the planned "new" aircraft were probe and drogue equipped - A400M, Nimrod MRA4 - and all of those in service were already P&D equipped - E-3, C-130 J & K and Nimrod R1.

This was all of course further complicated by the stupid PFI thing. Even without a boom fitted the fuselage needs strengthening so, for the non-core fleet, an operator would be burning additional fuel to carry around unnecessary extra metal. The simple answer is to blame the then government, who thought that mortgaging the nation's infrastructure, hospitals, military capability etc on PFI was a brilliant plan.

So to answer your questions:

The UK was the first customer for the A330 tanker so we did not order something different from all other air forces.

Yes, absolutely true, but the UK didn't (at the time) have a requirement, even though the operators wanted it.

Yes, but it was millions of pounds - remember Airbus had not developed a viable flying boom at the time.

Highly unlikely that you could just bolt anything on to anything nowadays, let alone a P-8. The costs for doing so would also be tens of £ millions.

No we didn't.

Last edited by Roland Pulfrew; 4th May 2016 at 11:55.
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Old 4th May 2016, 11:16
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Until the Falklands campaign in 1982, the RAF had operated Nimrod quite successfully without an AAR capability - or perhaps I should say that I have no recollection of any Maritime folk urgently demanding such a capability prior to then. Can I ask those who know, to what extent AAR became an integral part of day-to-day Nimrod operations after things south of Ascension had calmed down? And if it was essentially an extra, where in the scale of things to be achieved in re-establishing a maritime capability might this P8/Voyager compatibility issue sit in the years ahead?
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Old 4th May 2016, 12:06
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Some will understand....

......................
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