US Air Force selects KC-30 Tanker

Wow, what a news! The Boeing monopoly for US military planes is finally broken.

The U.S. Air Force announced its selection of the Airbus KC-45A Tanker, culminating a multi-year evaluation. The programme award calls for 179 aircraft with an estimated contract value of US$ 40 billion. The initial KC-45A contract for Northrop Grumman covers four System Design and Development aircraft and is valued at US$ 1.5 billion.

Louis Gallois, CEO of EADS, stated: “We have committed our energies to this important U.S. Air Force programme and to our team mate Northrop Grumman. Selecting a tanker based on the A330 MRTT will provide the U.S. Air Force with the most modern and capable tanker aircraft available today.”

Tom Enders, President and CEO of Airbus said: “Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force can count on the full resources of Airbus to support the KC-45A tanker’s production and delivery. All four System Design and Development aircraft are already in production. Preparatory work is now underway for our commitment to co-locate the final assembly of the tankers and A330 civilian freighter aircraft at Mobile, Alabama, creating the first new large commercial aircraft assembly facility in the U.S. in over 40 years.”

The KC-45A Tanker is based on the EADS Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport). Its airframe is derived from the popular Airbus A330 jetliner produced by EADS’ Airbus Division, of which more than 880 have been ordered worldwide in passenger and freighter configurations. The Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTAD) is responsible within the EADS Group for all military derivative programmes based on Airbus platforms, including tankers.

The KC-45A Tanker assembly will employ 25,000 workers at 230 U.S. companies. The KC-45A’s refueling systems will be built at new facilities in Bridgeport, W.Va., and delivered to the KC-45A Production Center for aircraft integration.

The KC-45A will be built by a team led by Northrop Grumman, and includes primary subcontractor EADS North America and General Electric Aviation, Sargent Fletcher, Honeywell, Parker, AAR Cargo Systems, Telephonics and Knight Aerospace.

Compared to the Boeing KC-135 (based on the 707), the EADS KC-45 (based on the A330) has 25% more fuel capacity, much higher payloads and its General Electric CF6-80E1A4B engines feature 3 times more thrust.

Source: Airbus, Northrop Grumman

Safety Report – Northrop B-2A Spirit Crash

Date: 23-FEB-2008
Time: 10:30
Type: Northrop B-2A Spirit
Operator: United States – US Air Force (USAF)
Registration: 89-0127
C/n / msn: AV-12
Name: Spirit of Kansas
Fatalities: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Airplane damage: Unknown
Location: Andersen AFB, Hagatna – Guam
Phase: Take-off
The Spirit of Kansas crashed on the runway shortly after take-off. The aircraft was one in a flight of four B-2s that was returning to Whiteman AFB, Mo., following a deployment that began Oct. 5



First KC-767 Tanker Delivered to Japan

Boeing today delivered the first Japan KC-767 Tanker to the Itochu Corp., for Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). It is the first aerial refueling aircraft in Japan’s history.
The 12-hour non-stop flight to Gifu, Japan, near Nagoya, originated in Wichita, Kan., near Boeing’s tanker modification center, following a final review by Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) Air Staff. Itochu will deliver the KC-767 Tanker to the MoD following in-country acceptance processes.

Boeing KC-767 Tanker - Japan
Boeing KC-767 Tanker U.S. Air Force F-15E Refueling - Japan

The tanker already made history Jan. 26 when it successfully did a refueling of a U.S. Air Force F-15E at night – the first nighttime refueling ever accomplished on a KC-767.
Japan has ordered four convertible freighter 767s, providing flexibility in carrying cargo or passengers while maintaining its primary role as an aerial refueling tanker. It features Boeing’s advanced aerial refueling boom and Remote Aerial Refueling Operator (RARO II) system. Boeing will deliver the second Japan tanker immediately following acceptance of this first Japan delivery.
Additionally, Boeing is building four tankers for Italy with delivery of the first two aircraft planned in 2008. The KC-767 also is Boeing’s offering in the U.S. Air Force’s KC-X competition for its next-generation tanker aircraft.

Boeing KC-767 Tanker - Japan

Source & Photo Credit: Boeing

Iraqi Mig-25 Foxbat found in sand dune

An Iraqi Air Force Mikoyan Mig-25 Foxbat in advanced reconnaissance version was dug out of a massive sand dune near the Al Taqqadum airfield (Iraq) by U.S. Air Force recovery teams. According to sources, this version, not being from the Gulf War era, was never seen before in the West and is equipped with sophisticated electronic warfare devices.
The Mig was one of over two dozen Iraqi jets buried in the sand, like hidden treasure waiting to be recovered at a later date.

View all photos at:

Boeing Delivers Fourth Royal Australian Air Force C-17

Boeing today delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) its fourth C-17 Globemaster III during a ceremony at the company’s Long Beach, Calif., C-17 manufacturing facility.
The aircraft features the “Block 17” configuration the most modern variant of C-17s built by Boeing, with upgraded software and avionics. The RAAF C-17 also has unique markings that differentiate it from U.S. Air Force C-17s. A black stallion on its tail identifies the airplane as part of the RAAF’s No. 36 Squadron, an airlift unit based in Amberley, Queensland. A kangaroo on the aircraft’s fuselage is part of the RAAF roundel, a distinctive emblem painted on military aircraft to indicate its nation of origin.
The aircraft joins three others delivered to the RAAF since late-2006. With the delivery of this new airlifter, the worldwide C-17 fleet now includes 171 U.S. Air Force C-17s as well as four in the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) and two in the Canadian Forces. The RAF and the Canadian Forces each will receive two additional C-17s this year. The U.S. Air Force is on contract to receive 19 additional C-17s by mid-2009.
The C-17 is the world’s only tactical airlift aircraft with strategic capabilities. Capable of flying between continents and landing on short, austere runways, the C-17 is used worldwide for both military and humanitarian missions.
Today’s delivery leaves just 23 C-17s remaining on the production schedule. Without additional orders, the C-17 line will close in late 2009. Despite significant evidence of increasing airlift needs, the U.S. Air Force has not budgeted for additional C-17s the last two years, forcing congressional plus-ups to meet the needed requirement.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17 Globemaster III

Photo Credit & Source: Boeing

Chinese Aircraft Look-A-Likes

I decided to create a list with aircrafts built in China, but looking confusingly similar to western types. I’m not generally claiming that they were copied. Some might have been built in license, some might use officially licensed parts.

This list will occasionally be updated. Please leave a comment if you know further types.

China Star CS2000
Looks like: Boeing 787

Comparison China Star CS2000 and Boeing 787

Looks like: Douglas DC-9 / McDonnell Douglas MD-80/90 / Boeing 717

Comparison AVIC ARJ21 and DC-9
Comparison AVIC ARJ21-700 and DC-9-10

Shanghai Y-10 (canceled in 1983)
Looks like: Boeing 707-320

Comparison Shanghai Y-10 and Boeing 707-320

Xian MA60
Looks like: Antonov An-26

Comparison Xian MA60 and Antonov An-26

Chengdu JF-17/FC-1
Looks like: Northrop F-20 Tigershark

Comparison JF-17/FC-1 and Northrop F-20 Tigershark

Chengdu J-10
Looks like: Israel IAI Lavi B

Comparison Chengdu J-10 and Israel IAI Lavi B

Changhe Z11
Looks like: Eurocopter AS-350 Ecureuil

Comparison Changhe Z11 and Eurocopter AS-350 Ecureuil

Changhe Z8
Looks like: Aérospatiale Super Frelon

Comparison Changhe Z8 and Aérospatiale Super Frelon

Photo Credits:
China Star CS2000 by:; Boeing 787 by: Boeing; ARJ21 by: AVIC; DC-9 by: Paul Robbins; Shanghai Y-10 by: Taecoxu; Boeing 707 by: Gerard Helmer; Xian MA60 by: AVICI; Antonov An-26 by: Kristof Jonckheere; JF-17 & F-20 By: Wikipedia; J-10 & Lavi by: Unknown; Changhe Z-11 by: Yuxiaobin; Eurocopter AS-350 Ecureuil by: Marco Toso; Changhe Z8 by: unknown; Aérospatiale Super Frelon by: Wikipedia

Boeing Demonstrates Automated Aerial Refueling

Flight tests by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and Boeing recently demonstrated, that it’s possible for an unmanned air vehicle to autonomously rendezvous with a tanker aircraft for refueling.
During the flight test, the Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR) system autonomously guided a Learjet, equipped to fly as a UAV, up to a Boeing KC-135R tanker and successfully maneuvered it among seven air refueling positions behind the tanker — contact, pre-contact, left and right inboard observation, left and right outboard observation, and break away. The system controlled the Learjet for more than 1 hour and 40 minutes and held the aircraft in the critical contact position for 20 minutes.

Automated Aerial Refueling - Learjet and Boeing KC-135R tanker

The goal of the AAR program is to develop and demonstrate systems that will enable UAVs to safely approach and maneuver around tanker aircraft so they can successfully perform boom and receptacle refueling operations. The systems including a flight control computer and control laws are developed by Boeing Phantom Works.

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force
Source: Boeing

Lockheed P-38 Lightning found on UK beach

65 years after an American USAF Lockheed P-38 Lightning ran out of gas and crash-landed on a beach in Wales, the long-forgotten World War II relic has emerged from the surf and sand where it lay buried. The aircraft is believed to be P-38F USAAF serial number 41-7677 assigned to the 49th Squadron, 14th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force. Experts hope to recover the plane for a British military museum.

American Lockheed P-38 Lightning at UK beach

Sunbathers and swimmers often frolicked within a few yards of the aircraft, unaware of its existence until last summer, when unusual weather caused the sand to shift and erode.
The revelation of the Lockheed “Lightning” fighter has stirred interest in British aviation circles and among officials of the country’s aircraft museums, ready to reclaim another artifact from history’s greatest armed conflict.
Based on its serial number and other records, “the fighter is arguably the oldest P-38 in existence, and the oldest surviving 8th Air Force combat aircraft of any type,” said Ric Gillespie, who heads a U.S.-based nonprofit group dedicated to preserving historic aircraft. “In that respect it’s a major find, of exceptional interest to British and American aviation historians.”
Gillespie’s organization, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, learned of the plane’s existence in September from a British air history enthusiast and sent a team to survey the site last month. The group plans to collaborate with British museum experts in recovering aircraft next spring. The aircraft is largely intact and remarkably free of corrosion.
“The difficult part is to keep such a dramatic discovery secret. Looting of historic wrecks, aircraft or ships, is a major problem, in Britain as it is worldwide,” Gillespie said.

British aviation publications have been circumspect about disclosing the exact location, and local Welsh authorities have agreed to keep the plane under surveillance whenever it is exposed by the tides of the Irish Sea, he said. For now, the aircraft is again buried under sand.
Officially, the U.S. Air Force considers any aircraft lost before Nov. 19, 1961 — when a fire destroyed many records — as “formally abandoned,” and has an interest in such cases only if human remains are involved.

The Wales Lightning, built in 1941, reached Britain in early 1942 and flew combat missions along the Dutch-Belgian coast. On September 27, 1942, fuel exhaustion during a training mission forced 2nd Lt. R. Frederick Elliott to land the large twin-engine fighter in shallow water near a beach in Wales. His belly landing sheared off a wingtip, but Elliott escaped unhurt. Less than three months later, the veteran of more than 10 combat missions was shot down over Tunisia, in North Africa. His plane and body were never found.

Following the accident, 8th Air Force authorities disarmed, but did not salvage, the aircraft which was soon covered by the shifting sand beneath the surf. At the time of Lt. Elliott’s mishap, few civilians in the local area were aware of the accident because the beaches in the United Kingdom were closed to the public during World War II and the press was not allowed to print stories about Allied wrecks. After the war, recreational use of the beaches resumed but the Lightning remained hidden.

The twin-engine P-38, a radical design conceived by Lockheed design genius Clarence “Kelly” Johnson in the late 1930s, became one of the war’s most successful fighter planes, serving in Europe and the Pacific. First delivered to the U.S. Army Air Corps in June 1941, the Lockheed P-38 was the only American fighter to remain in continuous production for the entire duration of the United States’ involvement in the Second World War. A total of 10,037 examples were built. An estimated thirty-two complete or partial airframes survive in museums and private collections worldwide. Approximately ten aircraft are reportedly airworthy. A similar number are displayed as extensively restored non-flying aircraft. The remaining airframes exist only as wreckage or parts to be used in rebuilds. Only one Lightning, the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s P-38J 42-67762, a former training aircraft, survives as an original, unrestored example of the type.

The P-38F was the first model to see combat but no original example of the mark survives in any collection. Nearly all existing P-38s are late-production G, H, J and L models. In Papua New Guinea, components from four P-38F hulks (42-12647, 42-12652, 42-13084, and 42-13105) are reportedly being used to re-construct a single composite aircraft. Another P-38F, 41-7630, was recovered from under the Greenland icecap in 1992 and subsequently re-manufactured as “Glacier Girl” to create an airworthy P-38F. While attractive and evocative, the flyable aircraft is essentially a new P-38.
Developed to a United States Army Air Corps requirement, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a single, central nacelle containing the pilot and armament. The aircraft was used in a number of different roles, including dive bombing, level bombing, ground strafing, photo reconnaissance missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with droppable fuel tanks under its wings. The P-38 was used most extensively and successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations, where it was flown by the American pilots with the highest number of aerial victories to this date. America’s top ace Richard Bong earned 40 victories (in a Lightning he called Marge), and Thomas McGuire (in Pudgy) scored 38. In the South West Pacific theater, it was a primary fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war.

Source: Yahoo News & TIGHAR
Photo Credit: TIGHAR
Link: The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery

3rd C-40C delivered to U.S. Air Force

The Boeing Company Friday 16th November delivered the third of three C-40C transport aircraft to the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), providing a critical airlift asset to government leaders on official business.
Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan, commander, 4th Air Force, accepted the aircraft at Boeing facilities in Seattle and flew it to Scott Air Force Base (AFB), Ill., where it will begin service with the AFRC.

U.S. Air Force Boeing C-40C (NG 737-700)

The 932nd and 375th Airlift Wings, units of the AFRC and Air Mobility Command respectively, will use the Next-Generation 737-700 Boeing Business Jet derivative to provide congressional delegations and senior government personnel safe, secure and reliable transportation — often to remote locations around the world — while supporting their need to conduct in-flight business.
Aircraft modifications include military avionics that augment the 737’s commercial flight deck; satellite communications equipment for passenger use; a reconfigurable interior that comprises 40 business-class seats, two work areas with conference table or divan and accommodations for 11 crew members; and auxiliary fuel tanks that extend the aircraft’s range to approximately 4,400 nautical miles.
The airplane joins a family of 18 C-40s already in service with the U.S. government: three C-40Cs with the Air National Guard at Andrews AFB, Md., as well as the two already delivered to AFRC at Scott AFB; four Air Force C-40Bs supporting the U.S. Combatant Commands at Andrews, Ramstein AFB, Germany, and Hickam AFB, Hawaii; and the U.S. Navy Reserve’s nine C-40As stationed at Naval Air Stations North Island, Calif., Fort Worth, Texas, and Jacksonville, Fla.

Source: Boeing
Photo Credit: Boeing – Jim Coley