Boeing Wins USAF Tanker Deal

The Pentagon recently announced, that Boeing has won the $35 billion USAF tanker contract. The contract means Boeing will initially build 179 of its 767-based KC-46A tankers to replace the Air Force KC-135 tankers.
Boeing must design, develop, manufacture and deliver the first 18 combat-ready airplanes by 2017. The first tanker is scheduled to fly in 2015.

The contest was not just about the better plane but also about monopoly and immense lobbying – Boeing spent more than $17.8 million on lobbying, just in 2010.
In 2008 U.S. Air Force already selected the competing KC-45 Tanker offered by EADS/Northrop Grumman but the selection was revised later after protests filed by Boeing.

EADS has three days to ask for a debriefing as to why exactly it lost. That debriefing must take place within five days, after which EADS has another five days to decide if it wants to formally protest the decision.

USAF Boeing KC-46A Tanker

EADS North America officials expressed disappointment and concern over the announcement that the US had selected a “high-risk, concept aircraft over the proven, more capable KC-45 tanker”.

“This is certainly a disappointing turn of events, and we look forward to discussing with the Air Force how it arrived at this conclusion,” said EADS North America Chairman Ralph D. Crosby, Jr. “For seven years our goal has been to provide the greatest capability to our men and women in uniform, and to create American jobs by building the KC-45 here in the U.S. We remain committed to those objectives.”

If selected, EADS North America had committed to build the KC-45 at a new production facility in Mobile, Alabama, with a U.S. supplier base of nearly a thousand American companies.

“With a program of such complexity, our review of today’s decision will take some time,” Crosby said. “There are more than 48,000 Americans who are eager to build the KC-45 here in the U.S., and we owe it to them to conduct a thorough analysis.”

Sources: Boeing, Airbus
Image: Boeing

Chengdu J-20 Uses US Technology

British newspaper The Guardian is reporting today, that the Chinese stealth fighter Chengdu J-20 may be built using US technology. Balkan military officials said China may have gleaned knowledge from a US F-117 Nighthawk that was shot down over Serbia in 1999.
“At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents crisscrossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers,” said Admiral Davor Domazet-Loso, Croatia’s military chief of staff during the Kosovo war. “We believe the Chinese used those materials to gain an insight into secret stealth technologies and to reverse-engineer them.”
A senior Serbian military official confirmed that pieces of the wreckage were removed by souvenir collectors, and that some ended up “in the hands of foreign military attaches”.
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Chengdu J-20 First Flight - Chinese 5th Generation Stealth Jet Fighter

Video – Chengdu J-20 First Flight
Spotted: China’s Chengdu J-20 Stealth Fighter

Video – Chengdu J-20 First Flight

The Chengdu J-20, first Chinese 5th generation stealth fighter, today successfully completed its first flight! According to Chineses sources the jet fighter made a 15-minute flight in southwest China’s City of Chengdu.

The Chengdu J-20 is a twin-engine multi-role heavy fighter with stealth capability and maneuverability as compared to American F-22 Raptor and Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA.

Chengdu J-20 First Flight - Chinese 5th Generation Stealth Jet Fighter



Spotted: China’s Chengdu J-20 Stealth Fighter?

Aviation Week is reporting that Chinese aviation enthusiasts have spotted a mysterious jet fighter at Chengdu Airport, China. It’s believed that the plane might be the infamous J-20 – the first Chinese stealth fighter, built by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC).
Judging from the pictures you can’t deny big similarities to an F-22 and the Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA. It seems to be much larger than an F-22 though.

Chengdu J-20 Chinese Stealth Fighter
More photos:

The Chengdu J-20 was first disclosed by US Office of Naval Intellegence (ONI) in 1997 as XXJ, J-20 (?) and is a 5th generation fighter to enter service around 2015. The jet is believed to be a twin-engine multi-role heavy fighter with enhanced stealth capability and maneuverability comparable to American F-22. It was speculated that 601 Institute was working on a “tri-plane” design based on canard/conventional layout/V-shape tailfin while 611 Institute working on a design based on canard/tailless delta wing/all moving V-shape tailfin/side DSI/bump inlet layout. All designs were expected to feature an internal weapon bay to reduce its radar footprint. The overall performance of J-20 is thought to be superior to Russian T-50 but still inferior to Amereican F-22. In August 2008 it was reported that 611 Institute was selected to be the main contractor for the development of J-20 and 601 Institute as the sub-contractor. One rumor in May 2010 suggested that 611 Institute started to construct the first prototype, which is expected to fly by 2012. The latest rumor claimed that the first two prototypes have been constructed and the first high-speed taxiing trial took place on December 22, 2010.


Video – Moments Before C-17 Crash in Alaska

On Friday US Air Force released the results of their investigation into a fatal C-17 Globemaster III aircraft (tail number 00-0173 – call sign Sitka 43) mishap July 28 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The plane was on a training flight for the Arctic Thunder Air Show scheduled for the weekend of July 31.

The accident investigation board found clear and convincing evidence the cause of the mishap was pilot error. The investigation revealed the pilot placed the aircraft outside established flight parameters and capabilities. During the mishap sortie, the pilot aggressively flew the aircraft in a manner inconsistent with established flight procedures, resulting in a stall. The pilot failed to take required stall recovery actions.
Furthermore, the board concluded the co-pilot and safety observer failed to recognize or address the developing dangerous situation. As a result, the C-17 stalled at an attitude and altitude from which recovery to controlled flight was impossible.

Video footage of the mishap flight was officially released and is found on YouTube. The footage has been edited to cut off just prior to the aircraft’s impact out of consideration and respect for the families of the deceased.


Lockheed Martin HC-130J Takes First Flight

The new Lockheed Martin HC-130J personnel recovery aircraft took off for the first time on July 29. Due for delivery to the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command in September 2010, the HC-130J is scheduled to reach initial operational capability in 2012. An Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130J variant of this aircraft will fly in early 2011.

Lockheed Martin HC-130J First FlightCompared to a classic C-130 a new propulsion system, featuring four powerful Allison AE2100D3 engines, generates more thrust while increasing fuel efficiency. An all-composite six-blade Dowty Aerospace R391 propeller system is lighter in weight and has fewer moving parts. Advanced avionics includes LCD instrument readouts for aircraft flight control, operating systems, and navigation. Besides two head-up displays, it has four multi-functional head-down LCD displays which are night vision goggles compatible. Two mission computers and two backup bus interface units provide dual redundancy. In the baseline (airlifter) version the avionics upgrades result in reduction of crew to 2 pilots and 1 loadmaster – no flight engineer, navigator or radio operator is needed in the cockpit anymore.
The extensive modifications also feature a belly-mounted 360-degree surface search radar, Direction Finder system, nose-mounted electro-optical/infrared radar, FLIR, an airborne Automatic Identification System and new communication systems.
The HC-130J furthermore offers external fuel tanks, flare/smoke float launch tubes and the USAF-standard liquid oxygen system has been converted to gaseous O2.

Source: Lockheed Martin
Photo: Lockheed Martin

USAF C-17 Globemaster III Crashed in Alaska

Today a USAF McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III, assigned to the 3rd Wing at Anchorage-Elmendorf Air Force Base crashed near the AFB. At the time of the accident, the C-17 was on a training mission for the upcoming Arctic Thunder air show.

All four crew members have been killed. Three of the crew were members of the Alaska Air National Guard and the other was active-duty Air Force from Elmendorf.

Source: USAF

Cockpit Photos – Inside B-52 Stratofortress

I had the amazing chance to enter a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress and see it from inside. This very plane was built in 1961 and is still on active duty, at least till 2020. It seems like nothing was modernized since then as you can see on the photos below. Climbing through the cramped inside and sitting in the cockpit was quite a surreal experience. Big thanks to the crew!

Click on the images for full size.

Just contact me if you need any of the images for your project. (e.g. MSFS Panel) I’m willig to provide them in higher resolution without watermark.
© All Rights Reserved – you may not use these images in any form without my prior permission.