Category Archives: Tanker

Next Strategic Tanker

Lockheed Martin introduces the LMXT as America’s next strategic tanker – built in America by Americans for Americans. Offered in response to the U.S. Air Force’s KC-Y Program, the LMXT represents the newest chapter in Lockheed Martin’s 60+ year history of producing and delivering tanker and cargo aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and multiple operators around the world.

LMXT
Lockheed Martin Offers the LMXT for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-Y Program

The LMXT complements the U.S. Air Force’s tanker capabilities by providing the most advanced aerial refueler to meet America’s immediate and long-term mission requirements. The LMXT strengthens and expands the U.S. aerospace industrial base by working with existing and new American suppliers. The LMXT also cultivates and sustains high-tech, high-skill American manufacturing jobs.

«Lockheed Martin has a long and successful track record of producing aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, and we understand the critical role tankers play in ensuring America’s total mission success», said Greg Ulmer, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. «The LMXT combines proven performance and operator-specific capabilities to meet the Air Force’s refueling requirements in support of America’s National Defense Strategy».

The LMXT offers a proven airframe with distinct U.S. Air Force-only capabilities designed to meet operator requirements, with advantages that include:

  • Significantly improved range and fuel offload capacity;
  • A proven fly-by-wire boom currently certified and used by allies to refuel U.S. Air Force receiver aircraft in operations around the world;
  • The world’s first fully automatic boom/air-to-air refueling (A3R) system;
  • Operational and combat proven advanced camera and vision system;
  • Open system architecture JADC2 systems;
  • A multi-domain operations node that connects the LMXT to the larger battlespace, increasing onboard situational awareness to provide resilient communications and datalink for assets across the force.

The Lockheed Martin strategic tanker builds on the combat-proven design of the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). As the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin works directly to implement U.S. Air Force-specific requirements within the LMXT. As the strategic tanker of choice for 13 nations, the MRTT has logged more than 250,000 flight hours refueling U.S. and allied fighter, transport and maritime patrol aircraft in combat theater environments.

Tanker for Japan

The first Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker built for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) recently refueled another KC-46A Pegasus aircraft in the skies over Washington state. The Japan-bound tanker also successfully received fuel in return.

KC-46 Pegasus
The Japan-bound tanker recently refueled another KC-46A Pegasus in the skies over Washington state (Kevin Flynn photo)

«Refueling with the first Japan KC-46A Pegasus is an important milestone for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force», said Jamie Burgess, KC-46 Pegasus program manager. «KC-46A Pegasus is the world’s most advanced air refueling aircraft and has already transferred more than 42 million gallons of fuel to other aircraft globally through its boom and drogue systems».

Japan is the KC-46 Pegasus program’s first non-U.S. customer and is scheduled to receive its first aircraft this year.

«State-of-the-art refueling makes the KC-46A Pegasus a standout, but this tanker goes well beyond that», said Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan. «The ability to carry cargo and passengers while maintaining tactical situational awareness makes the aircraft a critical tool in the security alliance between the U.S. and Japan».

The Japan KC-46A Pegasus is capable of refueling U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and JASDF aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a contract for the JASDF’s first KC-46A Pegasus tanker in December 2017. The agreement was completed through the Foreign Military Sale process between the U.S. government and Japan. A second Japan tanker is already in production.

Boeing is assembling the KC-46A Pegasus aircraft for both the U.S. Air Force and Japan on its 767 production line in Everett, Washington. Boeing’s Japanese partners produce 16% of the KC-46A Pegasus airframe structure.

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Aerial refueling and airlift
Prime Contractor The Boeing Company
Power Plant 2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
Thrust 62,000 lbs./275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)
Wingspan 157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m
Length 165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
Height 52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 415,000 lbs./188,240 kg
Maximum Landing Weight 310,000 lbs./140,614 kg
Fuel Capacity 212,299 lbs./96,297 kg
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load 207,672 lbs./94,198 kg
Maximum Cargo Capacity 65,000 lbs./29,484 kg
Maximum Airspeed 360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
Service Ceiling 43,100 feet/13,137 m
Maximum Distance 7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km
Pallet Positions 18 pallet positions
Air Crew 15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew
Passengers 58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)
Aeromedical Evacuation 58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment

 

Aerial refueling mission

For the first time in history, the U.S. Navy and Boeing have demonstrated air-to-air refueling using an unmanned aircraft – the Boeing-owned MQ-25 T1 test asset – to refuel another aircraft.

MQ-25 T1
The Boeing MQ-25 T1 test asset transfers fuel to a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet on June 4, marking the first time in history that an unmanned aircraft has refueled another aircraft. The MQ-25 Stingray will assume the carrier-based tanking role currently performed by F/A-18s, allowing for better use of the combat strike fighters and helping extend the range of the carrier air wing (Photo by Kevin Flynn)

During a test flight June 4, MQ-25 T1 successfully extended the hose and drogue from its U.S. Navy-issued Aerial Refueling Store (ARS) and safely transferred jet fuel to a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet, demonstrating the MQ-25 Stingray’s ability to carry out its primary aerial refueling mission.

«This team of professionals was integral in the successful flight», said Rear Adm. Brian Corey, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. «Over the next few years, we will work side-by-side with Boeing to deliver this capability that will greatly enhance the future carrier air wing».

«This history-making event is a credit to our joint Boeing and Navy team that is all-in on delivering MQ-25’s critical aerial refueling capability to the fleet as soon as possible», said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. «Their work is the driving force behind the safe and secure integration of unmanned systems in the immediate future of defense operations».

During the initial part of the flight, the F/A-18 test pilot flew in close formation behind MQ-25 to ensure performance and stability prior to refueling – a maneuver that required as little as 20 feet of separation between the MQ-25 T1 air vehicle and the F/A-18 refueling probe. Both aircraft were flying at operationally relevant speeds and altitudes. With the evaluation safely completed, the MQ-25 drogue was extended, and the F/A-18 pilot moved in to «plug» with the unmanned aircraft and receive the scheduled fuel offload.

The milestone comes after 25 T1 flights, testing both aircraft and ARS aerodynamics across the flight envelope, as well as extensive simulations of aerial refueling using MQ-25 digital models. MQ-25 T1 will continue flight testing prior to being shipped to Norfolk, Virginia, for deck handling trials aboard a U.S. Navy carrier later this year.

The Boeing-owned T1 test asset is a predecessor to the seven test aircraft Boeing is manufacturing under a 2018 contract award. The MQ-25 will assume the tanking role currently performed by F/A-18s, allowing for better use of the combat strike fighters and helping extend the range of the carrier air wing.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As the top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.

MQ-25 is a trademark of the Department of the Navy.

Maiden Flight

The first Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tanker destined for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) took to the skies on its maiden flight on February 8, 2021. This successful flight highlights an important milestone as the aircraft now transitions into the certification phase of development.

KC-46 Pegasus
First KC-46 Pegasus for an international customer completes successful first flight

«This is an exciting milestone for the JASDF and Boeing», said Jamie Burgess, KC-46 Pegasus program manager. «Japan is getting closer to receiving the most advanced air refueling tanker in the world».

Japan is the KC-46 Pegasus program’s first international customer and is scheduled to receive its first jet this year.

«Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus and its robust defensive systems will play an invaluable role in the security alliance between our two countries», said Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan. «This tanker’s ability to carry cargo and passengers also makes it a critical tool to support humanitarian relief efforts across the Pacific region and beyond».

The KC-46 Pegasus refueling certification encompasses U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and JASDF aircraft.

Boeing is assembling KC-46A Pegasus aircraft for both the U.S. Air Force and Japan on its 767 production line in Everett, Washington. Boeing’s Japanese partners produce 16% of the KC-46 Pegasus airframe structure.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Aerial refueling and airlift
Prime Contractor The Boeing Company
Power Plant 2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
Thrust 62,000 lbs/275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)
Wingspan 157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m
Length 165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
Height 52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 415,000 lbs/188,240 kg
Maximum Landing Weight 310,000 lbs/140,614 kg
Fuel Capacity 212,299 lbs/96,297 kg
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load 207,672 lbs/94,198 kg
Maximum Cargo Capacity 65,000 lbs/29,484 kg
Maximum Airspeed 360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
Service Ceiling 43,100 feet/13,137 m
Maximum Distance 7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km
Pallet Positions 18 pallet positions
Air Crew 15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew
Passengers 58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)
Aeromedical Evacuation 58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment