Home » Aviation » Concept for Lockheed MQ-25A Stingray Unmanned Tanker Bid Revealed


Concept for Lockheed MQ-25A Stingray Unmanned Tanker Bid Revealed

Lockheed Martin MQ-25A Concept. Lockheed Martin Image

Lockheed Martin unveiled its concept for the Navy’s MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial tanker in a series of images provided to USNI News on Monday by the company.

Skunk Works’ answer to the service’s requirement for a new carrier-based tanker is a tailless flying wing design that sets it apart from the other competitors in the program.

The series of four images shows the Lockheed Martin Stingray equipped with what appears to be a single D-704 buddy tank just to the left of the centerline of the airframe and a collection of sensors in the nose of the aircraft.

Aviation Week first reported on the concept imagery on Monday.

A flying wing concept is a break from the other competitors. Boeing and General Atomics Stingray designs – both revealed late last year – feature a wing-body-tail design for the MQ-25A.

Lockheed Martin MQ-25A Concept. Lockheed Martin Image

Last year, then-Skunk Works head Rob Weiss told reporters the Navy’s revision of the requirements were pushing competitors away from flying wing designs that weren’t as inherently efficient for a long-distance tanking mission as wing-body-tail platforms. And yet, the company has chosen to retain its flying wing design anyway, possibly indicating the company could foresee additional growth in the MQ-25A concept of operations to include missions that could benefit from the inherent low observability of a tailless design.

The service’s basic requirements will have the Stingray deliver about 15,000 pounds of fuel 500 nautical miles from the carrier, and Weiss said in March 2017 that “the requirements have been defined to be a tanker, so you really don’t want to go with a tailless design if your primary requirement is associated tanking,”

After the Navy focused its requirement to be solely on tanking, Northrop Grumman, who was expected to offer a bid for Stingray based on its X-47B tailless cranked kite design, dropped out of the competition.

In 2016, Weiss told reporters that if the Navy was interested in growing the capabilities of the Stingray to more than just a tanker, it would need to start with a basic design that could grow into more missions that would require low observable characteristics.

“If you start with a vehicle shape that will allow it to penetrate into a contested environment, you can get a low-cost tanking capability upfront without putting all the capability into that vehicle. … You can do it at low cost but stay on that same path to use that vehicle design to operate in a penetrating environment,” Weiss said in 2016.

Lockheed Martin MQ-25A Concept. Lockheed Martin Image

The current competition for Stingray is the latest in a 12-year effort for the Navy to develop its first fixed-wing carrier unmanned aerial vehicle since the service broke with the Air Force in developing a joint UAV in 2006.

Instead of creating a deep-strike stealth platform – at the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s direction – the Navy crafted requirements to have the unmanned system act as a carrier tanker. Currently, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets fill the carrier air wing’s tanking requirements. Up to 20 to 30 percent of in-demand Super Hornet sorties are tanking missions. The service would rather use that service life for strike and other missions.

The Navy set aside $719 million for Stingray in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget and plans on buying the first four in 2023 and for the aircraft to achieve initial operational capability on carrier decks in 2026.

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Categories: Aviation, Budget Industry, News & Analysis, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.

  • D. Jones

    Wouldn’t need it if the F35 had any legs.

    • airider

      F-35 has reasonable legs. It carries more internal fuel than the F-14 without drop tanks (but less with).

      However, not having purpose made organic tanking assets TODAY is definitely a head scratcher and even more, the Navy going with a completely new design, which is unmanned, as the next tanker is even more of a head scratcher.

      Tanking and COD are not glamorous and don’t need to be. Using the S-3 proposal Lockheed put together looked like a good option, as well as an upgraded C-2 based on the E-2 upgrades from NG. Going with the V-22 is a step backward, even if it provides a better option for the “pocket carrier” LHA and LHD classes.

      Not sure why we couldn’t use either C-2 or S-3 options in an unmanned variant, that could also do the COD piece.

      • Curtis Conway

        and carry more fuel.

        • airider

          Yep, and get them sooner.

          • Curtis Conway

            There are over 80 of them parked in the desert, and a bunch of A-6 Intruders right across the road. The KA-6G Tanker Upgrade would have even more to give with its more efficient F404 engines (now F414 with EPE and EDE). An upgraded KA-6G Tanker with a digital backbone, glass cockpit, upgrade the TRAM on the front to an MX-15 and give it Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) and now we are talking something. That nose cone could cover quite a large AESA radar antenna . . . see a long ways. The A-6 Intruder was one of the most capable carrier bombers in HiStory . . . and they still could be . . . as ISR/Tanker, and communications relay.

          • DaSaint

            Navy short of manpower and pilots in particular…

          • Curtis Conway

            That can be fixed. It just takes money and time.

          • DaSaint

            The downside of low unemployment, as I’m sure you know, is that the military no longer becomes a favorable option.

            And 16+ years of constant war don’t help.

          • Rocco

            Agreed!

          • RDF

            Except all the experienced aircrew are as old as I am.

          • Rocco

            18

          • airider

            Just having the A-6F would be a coup today compared to the current air wing makeup. Grumman built five development aircraft…are those in the boneyard as well???

            Believe the A-6G kept the old engines to make it cheaper. I also tend to think of any aircraft with the “G” suffix as a “wild weasel” variant, but that just dates myself I guess.

            It’s pretty amazing what we threw away in the 1990’s leveraging the “Peace Dividend”.

            I’d like to compare the maintenance budgets for the Late 80’s air wings compared to today (normalized for inflation). My guess is maintenance today is higher than the 80’s.

            Basically we shot ourselves in one foot by getting rid of multiple aircraft variants (that were each more capable than the aircraft today) in the name of acquisition and sustainment efficiency. Then proceeded to shoot ourselves in the other foot by paying 2-3x the price for acquisition (since it became a sole source situation) and maintenance (because we outsourced).

            We couldn’t have made up a more ridiculous situation if we tried.

          • Rocco

            It was supposed to simplify things by having less types of aircraft on deck as far as strike aircraft by only needing to store one type of engine. Thus having commonality & not needing specialty maintenance people for multiple engines. As the thinking at the time did save money.

          • airider

            Yep….the concept may have been sound, but the execution was not.

          • Rocco

            How was it not!! ??

          • airider

            I listed that in my previous post….
            Sole source acquisition. Outsourced maintenance.

          • Rocco

            Not in agreement!

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Another aspect to this was the world political situation. The USSR was kaput. Remember the ‘Peace Dividend’ that was all the rage back then? The military, especially the Navy, knew they would still have to deal with the ‘backwater types’ like those that would soon manifest themselves in the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, etc. For a long moment there, the feeling was that the corner had been turned as far as a ‘cold war’; between peer or near-peer adversaries, turning into a hot one. The world situation ALLOWED for the Navy to ‘migrate’ to an all F-18 strike and fighter airwing.

          • Rocco

            Not sure what you mean as far as your last comment?

          • Chesapeakeguy

            I’m talking about WHY the Navy viewed that time frame as an opportunity to transcend to an all F-18 wing, and getting rid of the F-14s and A-6’s in the process. Remember that they had versions of those planes ready to replace older models of them. The F-14Ds were coming into the fleet, and there was an “F” model of the Intruder the Navy wanted. Now, certainly the A-12 debacle played into the demise of the A-6. But with the end of the Cold War, thanks to the fall of the Soviet Union, the Navy decided not to pursue their own ‘stealth bomber’ or those other versions of the Tomcats and Intruders. They felt the need for them had dissipated. The F-18 was believed to be ‘good enough’ to handle what the rest of the world count throw at them.

          • Rocco

            A…… Hole Mabus had a say in that!! But the cost was too much for those aircraft to be revised mind you Grumman was closing its doors in LI. Plus man hours on the planes were more than double than the Hornet. It was the easiest & logical choice. In the end the Tomcat was a BombCat!

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Yes to all (except Mabus, at that time he was just your typical political hack, even more so than when he was SecNav,). But the world situation allowed for all that to transpire.

          • Rocco

            I don’t agree with your last paragraph

          • Chesapeakeguy

            I’m curious. Why not? What is not factual in it, or any of the other posts I have written concerning it (the world changes that facilitated the Navy’s decisions to change their air wing compositions)? I don’t argue at all that Mabus is a bonehead, and made some truly despicable decisions (his naming warships after extreme radicals and crime victims is bad enough). But he had no connections to the Navy in the 1990s, he arrived on the scene with Obama.

          • Rocco

            It’s how you say world changes depicted on how the Navy chose it’s aircraft!! I never heard anyone say this. So I’m confused on your thinking. In my mind the Navy made its choices based on what was best & convenient at the time.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            And you are right about all that. BUT, the demise of the USSR, and the fact that China had nothing then to speak of military-wise (certainly not a blue water navy) facilitated the Navy making those decisions. Remember that the first Iraq War had shown that all that Russian and Warsaw Pact produced hardware was no match for American and allied forces, especially in the air.

          • Rocco

            Good morning. Yes I remember. & That was old school stuff for us. Which was pretty much worn out by the mid 2006!

          • USNVO

            I’ll take that bet!

            A F-18 had half the pilots and less than half the maintenance hours per flight as the F-14. Not looking good so far.

            The A-6 was already toast and was retired. Because of fuselage cracking caused by the new wing, it service life was reduced to 2200hrs. So besides requiring an entirely new wing again, it needed an entirely new fuselage as well. Yeah, that would be cheap. Again, more pilots and more man hours per flight (and way more depot time as well). Not looking good yet.

            The helos, C-2s and E-2s are a wash.

            Which brings us to the EA-6B vs the EF-18. See F-14 and A-6 above but suffice it to say, the EA-6B was way more per flight hour.

            Oh, yeah. The F-18 had way better readiness rates as well.

            So, the guys making the decisions had a choice. Faced wIth limited budgets (does no one remember the Clinton years?), they could either maintain something like half the CVWs and keep all the old planes or fill all of them with F-18s. Plus, they couldn’t man the existing force either. No brainer there.

          • Rocco

            Kudos!!

          • Curtis Conway

            That Wild Wesel “G” came form the F-105G /F-4Gs. The A-6F with furthter upgrades as I described would necessitate a new designator so I just went one more. Your analysis is Right On Target, and is an illustration of the false economy of the “Pease Dividend” and the Military Industrial Complex at work. If your not buying or mainaining, they ain’t making money. The differences of your personal family budget metrics, and those of the federal budget would better track each other, instead of going into Hyperspace. That’s why you can’t audit them (Black Programs) and the budget (as well as Black Programs) are out of control. But . . . we are just talking about CRUMBS here.

          • Rocco

            F-100 before the 105/ & F-4!! I don’t know how it is that you agree with airider ??

          • Curtis Conway

            LOL . . . this Black Shoe (Aegis OS) was a Commissioned Brown Shoe (Aviation OpTech). Then I served mostly Staff Duty, though I retired out of the field (MIUW Community). CARGRU on one coast, and ASWOC on the other coast was the most fun, although I will always cherish my Air Intercept Control days with F-14 Tomcats. We could sanitize some airspace.

          • Rocco

            Kudos copy that!

          • Rocco

            Agreed I used to refuel them!! The tanker variant took a half hour to fuel. This month as we speak the Marines are retiring the prowler’s! This plane would make an excellent tanker & make use of a ASEA radar.

          • Curtis Conway

            Gruman Iron Works. Last forever if you do the maintenance. Upgrade with an F404 engines with greater efficiency, durability, and FADEC and in-flight engine condition monitoring system (IECMS), and they would be really neat.

          • Rocco

            Waste of time sir. In the long run it’s a logistical issue like making an old car into a resto mod!! Conceivable but not very practical!

          • USNVO

            The myth and folklore that surrounds the A-6 is legion.

            Lets look at the facts shall we. The A-6E was limited to 2200hrs because of fuselage cracking (this is why it was retired). That was on top of having to replace the wing (again) because of cracking. So lets see, two wing changes and a fuselage change was required for it to fly more than 3000 hrs.

            It came down to the Navy deciding if they wanted the A-12 or the A-6F. John Lehman, a A-6 NFO and the person who proposed the A-6F to begin with chose the A-12, not a ringing endorsement.

          • Curtis Conway

            USNVO, drawing wisdom from our old SECNAV John Lehman has sold me. He refueled my CAP station off Beirut once. However, with modern technology and manufacturing techniques, and the fact that SO Many are parked out in the desert and not recycled aluminium makes one wonder why. I bet Boeing could make a new wing that would last longer the 3,000 hrs.

          • USNVO

            No question a new composite wing would last longer and a new fuselage would also be doable. But all of that costs quite a bit. The reason the A-6s are parked in the desert can be readily determined by noting that the Prowler is basically the same airframe as the Intruder. My guess is that once the last USMC Prowler goes away the Intruders are beer cans.

          • Rocco

            Agreed this month actually

          • Duane

            Yea, by all means, let’s go back to the 1960s. I’m sure we can be real effective in mid-21st century warfare with such aircraft hauled out of the boneyard. Just as the Sopwith Camel was such a great fighter in WWII.

            What we need is an unmanned carrier-based tanker, just as the Navy has spec’d out for the MQ-25. Preferably stealthy, and convertible to other missions in due time.

          • airider

            Design wise, the aircraft of the 1960’s and 1970’s have formed the basis of all aircraft we see today. It actually started after WWII, on the Science and Technology front ramped up faster in the 1950’s (X-series aircraft) and then rapidly expanded in the 1960’s into the 1970’s. Change the electronics and engines out, and you won’t find an example of anything better today from that time.
            Why?

            Because that’s when we did the hard work of figuring out most of the fluid dynamics pieces needed to field aircraft in a wide assortment of performance regimes. Today’s aircraft are mostly refinements from that era.

          • Rocco

            Agreed the first thing you said that made sense!

          • airider

            I think we agree on a lot more….I just may not be communicating as clearly as needed.

          • Rocco

            Possible.

          • Curtis Conway

            Your a ‘Two in the Bush’, man huh? I’m for one in the hand, until the new stuff is out and ready.

          • Duane

            The MQ-25, whichever design the Navy selects, will be delivered much sooner than rebuilding a bunch of worn out, corroding, 50 year old antiques.

          • Curtis Conway

            One can always hope, and I do look forward to the competition. Wonder which Chariot will cross the finish life first?

          • DaSaint

            No pilots…

          • muzzleloader

            The issue with the A-6 flying again Curtis, would be engines. The J-52 engine which powers the A-6, has been around since 1955. Depot level maintenance of the engine ceased in 2013, and parts are extremely costly. In the run up to the Iraq invasion in 03, the Navy sent people to AMARC in Arizona to pull every engine out of the Intruders parked in the desert just for parts, especially the bearings.
            To keep the A-6 flying would require a new engine which would require a major redesign of the airframe, all of which would be prohibitively expensive. The Intruder was a bomb truck and a great refueling platform, but it’s day is over. Regards.

          • Curtis Conway

            The A-6F was going to use the GE F404.

          • Rocco

            Was. It was deemed to expensive & in the long run cause structural damage over time to the airframe.

          • Curtis Conway

            I’m not sure if prototyping and testing actually took place. My foggy recollection was that the Grumman Iron Works A-6 with new engines would be more efficient, and handle the carrier environment. With new modern composite wings, inspections and needed repairs on structures, upgraded avionics, it would be a real solution for some time. A bird torn down that far would be replumbed for tanking as well. It would cost a pretty nickel, but you would get a solid performer for the Air Wing for at least a decade, probably longer. We really should get the valuable Attack Birds out of the tanking business.

          • Rocco

            Actually there was sir! I have an article in an old Grumman proceedings dating back 25 plus yrs ago . A prototype of an A-6F was built. Wings were bigger & wider along with the 404 engines without AB!! It was deemed not a good candidate to proceed further with it along with the Super duper tomcat!! BTW both A-6 & F-14D are on a museum ship FYI. These 2 Jets never saw squadron duty. Were used as test beds for fleet upgrades & testing before being implemented into service. But these were not the Jets in question!⚓️

          • Curtis Conway

            IMHO the F-14D should have gone through a maintainability & durability upgrade. Can you imagine a new F-14D with the GE ADVENT engine, digital backbone, with new hardware, cockpit, avionics and radar. The center body alone made that bird a wonder and very tough. Concerning the A-6F, I’m wonder how many hours they put on the prototypes. Really getting tired of seeing all those airframes parked at the boneyard.

          • Rocco

            What do you live across the street from the boneyard?? Lol that would kill me too. I can find that out for you as I have a friend that works Northrop Grumman. As for the Tomcat Iran is getting more of them in the air!! Big article in combat aircraft magazine.Can you imagine the same in a New Phantom!!! Ever heard of Phantom X??? Mach 3 capable. Conformal fuel tanks. Oh what could of been!!

          • muzzleloader

            Would that be the USS Midway?

          • Rocco

            Cool I know people who served on her. I was in Forrestal twice, Sara & Nimitz

          • Rocco

            Agreed kudo’s

          • Rocco

            I drank plenty of exhaust fumes from that engine!! Lol

          • muzzleloader

            They used to park those bloody things directly over our line shack and do high power run ups. Even with the hatch dogged and wearing cranials, it was deafening!

          • Rocco

            Lol ….. What ship?

          • muzzleloader

            CVN-65 the Big E !

          • Rocco

            Nice ! My buddy served on her in the middle 70’s when I was on Forrestal.

          • RDF

            I worked a bit on the F program. Just wasn’t in the cards at the time. Nowadays that purchase and optar cost is very attractive. The E TRAM had all the gear internal that they pod up and hang on today’s aircraft. All of it. I loved that aircraft. The the best thing was after launch you didn’t have to talk to anyone. Especially Disqus commenters. Just checkout, go do your mission. Check back in when you return.

          • Curtis Conway

            Thank you Sir, though it was so. Sanity seems to no longer be in the DoD communities lexicon, and they just got a new infusion of Boon-Doggle Money. Since we rarely AUDIT these people, they will probably NOT follow SECDEF advice/direction to use their money well. The USAF just blew over $100 million restarting the A-10 wing remanufacturing line after Congress told them not to.

          • RDF

            The A10 is such a great example of over engineering driving the weight of the aircraft to the point where it is too slow to have a reasonable chance around a first string FEBA.

          • Curtis Conway

            There are certainly areas of the Battlespace where the A-10 would not go, but when boots are on the ground, then it becomes more necessary, and Close Air Support is not something you can just redefine to suit our requirement, and make yourself safer. Life is still precious even if it has a rifle in its hand. Troops in ‘Close Contact’ within a situation of ‘Danger Close’, can often require multiple and exacting attacks, within a short period of time, that usually is best done if you can maintain eye contact with the target. This requires slower speed at lower altitudes, and the ability to carry a lot of ordinance, and absorb damage. To accomplish that, the machine conducting that attack is best heavy, robust, and enduring, with lots of built in redundancy. This describes the A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog”. There is more than one USAF A-10 driver who will tell you so, and got home ONLY because it was true.

          • RDF

            I get all that. Against a first string opponent it won’t help to drop A10 aircraft on them. It will be exciting.

          • Curtis Conway

            Agreed . . . SO, the USAF seeks to place our valuable and precious CAS pilots, who WILL support Troops in ‘Close Contact’, within a situation of ‘Danger Close’, within the range of Groundfire and other things, and attempt to be effective with one engine, and a fragile airframe. Hows them apples?

          • RDF

            They better either go fast, or stay above 8k, so there better be a JTAC crew around to illuminate those CAS targets. With first string oppos there will be a lot more liquidity. JTAC Wil be essential.

          • Curtis Conway

            Used to be an AIC and know a Ranger or two.

      • Duane

        S-3 and C-2 require big deck carriers, so no go for the ARGs. Hence the need for a V-22 tanker variant to tank the marines’ ARG aircraft.

        • NavySubNuke

          I wonder what the French use for tanking from their CVN – they do have a CVN after all – maybe we could join in on their procurement.
          From my research it looks like they just do buddy tanking between the fighters but it isn’t entirely clear.

          • Rocco

            They barrow fuel from us when far from home during joint operations like last year for example when issis attacked France.

        • airider

          Duane,
          I mentioned that. Do you come to these boards just to harass people??? Based on your posts, I would say so.

          • Duane

            No harassment, my response was factual and respectful. You mentioned ARGs, but you also led your statement in the first part by asserting that V-22s “are a step backward”, which is simply not true. They are an entirely logical logistical solution, and not a “step backward”.

          • airider

            What facts do you present? They are a step backward for the CVN’s COD situation (Fact) and may or may not provide better Amphibious Onboard Delivery (AOD) capabilities to the ARG than today.

            I do think the ARG’s need their own tanking capability and should have had it back when the Harrier’s were embarked, but that ship has long sailed. The VAR system for the V-22 may be the most useful piece of the kit for the ARG. I’m concerned the amount of “giveaway” will be very limited though based on both the F-35’s and other V-22’s needs.

            H-53K may be a better lifter for AOD of the heavy and oversized stuff than V-22. This still would require a hub-and-spoke situation with the CVN, but since V-22 will replace the current C-2’s, the lift capability of the H-53K won’t overcome this limitation.

            So, V-22 has set the limitations for both the CVN and ARG for COD and possibly IFR.

          • NavySubNuke

            Don’t worry too much about Duane. He doesn’t actually understand the difference between “facts” and “opinions”.
            It makes for great entertainment but poor debates.

      • Rocco

        The S-3 was already a tanker from the 80’s till it was retired!

        • airider

          Yep….so let’s upgrade it for multiple roles and bring it back.

          • Rocco

            Not gonna happen. They are in the boneyard. Not in airmarc.

    • Duane

      What are you talking about?

      The F-35 A and C have the longest legs of any carrier based or land based strike fighter on internal fuel other than the F-15E. The A and C have an effective combat radius on internal fuel of 630 nm … as compared to just 360 nm for the Super Hornet. Even the B model is significantly more at 410 nm, much higher than the Harriers at 300 nm. And F-16s at 340 nm, and F-22s at 460 nm. Even the old F14s, supposedly long legged carrier birds, only had a 500 nm eff. combat radius.

      • NavySubNuke

        Just because the F35 has better legs than the F-18 doesn’t mean it has long enough legs to matter.
        If the task is to run 100 yards but you only make it 50 it doesn’t really matter that your buddy only made it 40 —- you both failed.

        • Duane

          That is a silly nonsense argument. Range always matters, hugely .. the more the better. The F-35’s range advantage over a Super Hornet is not slight … it’s nearly double. Even on very long range missions where refueling is required, the greater the effective combat radius, the fewer refueling aircraft are needed, and the greater the operational flexibility of the attack aircraft.

          • airider

            The F/A-18’s range limitation were noted in the very first variant and have never met original requirements.

            This is what you get when you pick the loser in the lightweight fighter competition, and then make it the center piece of the air wing.

            If the Navy had kept the F/A-18 where it should have been (a light weight fighter complement to the focused fighter and attack aircraft), Navy Air would be in much better shape today.

            If I were king for a day, my recommended air wing makeup would have:

            24 – Fighter/Recon (single aircraft type)
            24 – Attack/ASuW/ASW (single aircraft type)
            12 – Light Fighter-Attack / EW / Elint (single aircraft type)
            4 – AEW
            4 – Tanker/COD
            9 – Helos

          • Rocco

            Ah excuse me the flyoff between the YF-17 & F-16 has no bearing on the F-18 as the Navy choosing the looser of the 2 !!! As you stated it was a light weight fighter comparison but for the Airforce!! I resent the fact that you imply the Navy chose a looser here!!

          • airider

            Why do you resent this? The biggest issue with the F/A-18 was noticed during the YF-16/17 competition and that was its range. The Air Force understood this and maintained a Hi-Lo mix based on cost and capability. They didn’t replace the F-15 with the F-16. They understood the Caps and Lims of each and sized their forces accordingly. The Navy apparently didn’t care or understand this which is why we have the situation aboard the CVN’s today.

          • Rocco

            Number one it has nothing to do with this thread! I resent this because I’m a Navy guy! Your degradation of the fact that the Navy needed an aircraft to replace the Phantom & A-7 is why we’re in the situation today is totally stupid!! & That I resent!

          • And 20% of your airwing would have been able to contribute absolutely nothing to the past two decades of war. Somehow, I don’t think that’s very justifiable.

        • Rocco

          That made no sense whatsoever!

          • NavySubNuke

            If the carrier needs to stay X miles away due to the defenses within X miles of the target and the F-18 with tanking can get you 30% of X miles and the F-35 with tanking can get you 60% of X miles you still fail and it doesn’t matter that the F-35 got you closer.

          • Rocco

            The needs for tanking isn’t just for what each aircraft can carry load wise internally & external. Weapons load factors in plus what the jet burned during launch always has to factor in once airborne!! Tank before the mission or tank getting back!! It would depend on situations that will always be different! As well as weather & sea conditions!! You of all people should know this!!

          • NavySubNuke

            Certainly but at the end of the day if the F-35 and F-18 both can’t reach the required weapons release point with a meaningful amount of weapons it doesn’t matter how close it got to that point.
            At that point all we are arguing over is who came 4th in the Olympics and who came 5th — neither even gets a medal never mind a gold medal.

          • Rocco

            Your analogy behoves yourself to stick with subs!! As you don’t get it!! If we all thought like you what would the point for having carriers or LHA’s to begin with??. There’s always a way to counter situations!!

          • NavySubNuke

            Certainly there is a counter-tactic —- the same tactic we planned to use during the cold war —- don’t put the carrier into a position you know it can’t survive in. Wait and assemble multiple carriers together, knock down the threat, and then drive in and commence the assault.
            We certainly weren’t going to push a carrier into the Barents Sea on day 2 of the war —- nor should we expect to push a carrier to the coast of Taiwan today. It isn’t 1998 anymore.
            Once the threat has been knocked down enough by long range strikes by TLAM/NGLAW/JASSM -ER/CPS and other standoff weapons that have the necessary range and what remains is within the capability of the escorts to deal with the situation then we can drive the carrier in and begin bombing with TACAIR.

          • Rocco

            Depending on who & what we’re going up against we would be in a joint operations so putting us in harm’s way ,( carriers) is its job! As anything else. Just be smart about it.

          • NavySubNuke

            Certainly the carrier has a role in any regional conflict with someone like Iran or Syria in the opening hours of the war and beyond.
            With Russia that is also likely true as well considering how dilapidated their forces have become though they have done a good job of sustaining certain key capabilities.
            With China I am not so sure – I see any conflict with China playing out more like the Navy expected the cold war to play out carrier wise and them not getting into the area until a few days or even weeks into the war (and to clarify by that I mean days or weeks after they could have otherwise entered the battlespace but we purposefully hold them clear until we knock back the threat and assemble a large enough battlegroup).

          • Rocco

            Goes without saying ! Agreed ! With the build up of China’s Navy they would be the one to watch . But being that their the underdog with no combat experience they could have the best of equipment but I don’t think they can counter us in the air or sea….. But not with LCS ships ! We have to stop sending single ships him harm’s way over there so they can get surrounded eventually & which can escalate to confrontation we don’t need now!!

          • RDF

            Send FA lads. Time to be somebody. Go get a broom.

          • Duane

            Yup, Rocco. CVNs and CSGs are the most heavily defended airspace on the planet. If we have to keep CVNs in a non-existent “safe place” then they are useless. The whole point of a super carrier is to project air power to anywhere on the planet wherever our enemies may be or operate.

          • Rocco

            Agreed! Your learning kid!

          • RDF

            Send FA boys. Thin out those missile threats. Only then cvn. Anything else is juvenile.

          • RDF

            No. Go learn your naval history. The point is one CVN with 24 hours to just stage aircraft and weapons can maybe get 12 to 14 aircraft with others for escort and suppression. Jamming, etc…. You don’t go anywhere within range of significant shore based assets with one CVN. Minimum 3. What do you think lives on one bird farm? Send subs… They are terrific. They can operate, thin out the naval and shore based threats, and SURVIVE.

          • Duane

            There is no “safe place” on the planet for a CVN, including pierside in CONUS, given intercontinental range heavy bombers with long range AL-ASCMs and intercontinental range ASBMs.

            The range of strike fighters is all about what the fighter does to the target. The CVN and CSG have no choice but to defend themselves from whatever our enemies put up against them.

          • Rocco

            Here’s a first from me to you…….. Kudos!!!⚓️

          • NavySubNuke

            There may not be a “safe” place but there are certainly places that are safer than others. As anyone who understands this topic will know it is a lot harder for the Chinese to overwhelm a carrier battle groups defenses when the group is 100 miles off the coast of San Diego than it is to overwhelm them 100 miles off the coast of Shanghai. Completely different threat picture.

          • Rocco

            I would disagree with you on this!!

          • NavySubNuke

            So you believe that on day 1 of a war with China a carrier battle group 100 miles off the coast of San Diego faces the same risk of being sunk as a carrier battle group 100 miles off the coast of Shanghai?

          • Rocco

            Yeah! Especially in our territory!! Not just by surprise either. But it would take balls that alot of countries are taking advantage of us with in their territory! Once this happens in our territory we better be prepared!!

          • Duane

            We thought Pearl Harbor was safe from attack at 7:50 am Sunday December 7, 1941.

            If I were the Chinese planning a war in the West Pacific, I would task a flight of their new intercontinental range heavy bombers to fly somehere within a few hundred miles of Pearl Harbor, and San Diego, and fire barrages of dozens of long range ASCMs at whatever CVNs we have operating or tied up anywhere within the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as the Atlantic. US CVNs pose the greatest risk to Chinese military assets, and if they aren’t quickly taken out of action, China has no chance of surviving.

            We had best be very well prepared for such a sneak attack in the opening hours of a war with China.

          • NavySubNuke

            There are a lot of highly debatable points in their but I think even someone of your intellectual stature should understand the difference between such a highly risky and unlikely to succeed surprise attack given the realities of modern I&W and a direct sustained threat to our carriers.

          • Rocco

            Deago Garcia !

          • RDF

            And you think we would let them do this? No commander is required to get hit first. Used to be. Not today. Not since Carter. First blows are too lethal. Good thing we have CVN because those boats may not slowdown below 30 knots until subs thin out and sanitize the neighborhood.

          • muzzleloader

            The PLAAF’s new bombers, are the HK-6, which are upgraded TU-16’s.
            They have a range of around 3,200 miles, which would require tanker assets, coming and going. If things ever go hot with China, you can bet that the airspace over the western and central Pacific will be watched closely.
            Bombers approaching from the west over that distance would have a very dicey task.
            Such an attack on Guam would seem more likely.

          • USNVO

            Wow, I guess you didn’t read the Maritime Strategy. If ADM Hayward or John Lehman were dead, they would be rolling over in their graves.

            The Maritime Strategy completely rejected roll back since the Navy did basically nothing at that point to support the greater war effort. Attacking as soon as possible held the Soviet bastions at risk, even if it meant going up against the Soviet Navy. The plan was to push the carriers into the North Atlantic/Barent Sea (and the North Pacific/Bering Sea/Sea of Okhotsk) just as soon as they could be concentrated. That was the whole point! If there was sufficient time to concentrate the battle force before the conflict began, they would go in on day 1!

            As for today, there is no reason to sail anywhere near the Taiwan Strait (or the Chinese mainland) to influence a battle for Taiwan. The Chinese have to come out of their defensive posture to do anything. Draw a 500nm circle from the Taiwanese Strait, notice how that encompasses a whole lot of area on the other side of Japan and the Philippines. The US and our allies have a tremendous geographical advantage and would be fools to throw that away to sail into the Taiwan Strait.

          • NavySubNuke

            Thank you for acknowledging I was correct when I stated that we would wait for the carriers to get together before knocking down the threat and driving in rather then pushing a carrier into the Barents sea on day 2 of the war.
            And you are right – we would certainly never drive two carriers through the strait of Taiwan during a crisis with China and Taiwan. Except for that time we did it in 1996 of course….

          • USNVO

            Absolutely correct, don’t go in alone. But the Navy was not waiting for anyone to knock down the threat for them as you stated, the plan was to fight through and knock down the threat with the carrier air wings. If there was sufficient warning, the Navy would have gone in on day 1 if they could.

            And last I checked we weren’t at war with China in 1996 nor were they making any overt attempts at preparing for war against Taiwan. In fact, just the opposite. What they did was shoot a bunch of missiles into the water to try to influence the Taiwanese election. So a show of force was perfectly reasonable then and very effective too. However, if there had been a serious concern that war would break out, like China mobilizing its forces, the carriers would have been no where near the Taiwan Strait.

          • NavySubNuke

            And if we go to war with China anytime soon I highly doubt the carriers will be anywhere inside the second island chain – at least in the opening weeks of the war.
            I was quite happy to see us recently perform a series of exercises with 3 battlegroups working together. If we really do go to war with China that is exactly what we are going to need to do. Stay a safe enough range away while the fleet assembles and then drive our way in and pin their ears back as we go.
            During the time the fleet is assembling our SSGNs (or if they have retired and enough time has passed to get them into the fleet VPM equipped VA-SSNs) and long-range bombers will be busy taking out the over the horizon radars and satellite ground stations that enable the Chinese to strike far beyond the range of the air wing.
            Obviously China gets a vote and will do it’s best to disrupt this but it is hard to imagine it going any other way. We trade space for time and stay far enough away from their massed surface to surface missile launchers until we can adequately deal with what is left.

          • USNVO

            You seem to be misreading the fundamental difference between any war with the Soviets and the Chinese.

            In a war with the Soviets, the Navy was on the operational offensive with the intent of relieving pressure on the main theater in Europe. By being able to attack the bastions, the Navy tied down huge amounts of Soviet forces far from the main theater as well as preventing them from interfering with the shipment of supplies to the main theater. But in Europe, the Soviets had the advantage of a large land border to launch an offensive. The Navy filled at best, an ancillary role. So attacking in a separate theater with existing forces that otherwise had little usefulness was a excellent use of the Navy assets.

            With the Chinese, any conflict will involve the Navy being in the main theater and being the main force. In the two main concerns, Japan and Taiwan, the Chinese can’t get to the conflict without crossing the sea. So the US doesn’t need to strike the mainland of China, they only need to stop the Chinese from getting to Taiwan or Japan and/or strand whatever forces reach the islands. So unlike against the Soviets, the US gets to do sea denial. Way easier. As long as the Chinese can’t use the seas for their purpose, the USN doesn’t need to control the seas.

            So China would be a fundamentally different situation. The USN doesn’t need to control the SCS for instance, just keep the Chinese from controlling it. I mean what, are we going to escort convoys to China? Anywhere else, you just take the long way around with pretty much total immunity. The US doesn’t need to take Taiwan or Japan, just keep the Chinese from taking them. A Stalemate is a win. Now the Chinese would love for the US to charge into the SCS or ECS, because that is the only chance for them to prevail. All the more reason not to.

          • NavySubNuke

            I completely agree with everything you just said as it already agrees with everything I have already said. I’m not sure why you keep trying to insist I am wrong and then posting things that align perfectly with the statements I have made but I don’t mind.
            Have a great day!

          • RDF

            Leahman invented that whole Norwegian thing to get increased funding. Every cvbg staff just swallowed hard and looked at each other. Incredulously.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Agreed. I find it hard to believe that anyone would blindly send in assets like carriers without knowing enough about the risks in the opening days of a conflict. What’s the adage, “no plan survives contact with the enemy”? Certainly targets of opportunity will be the proverbial ‘low hanging fruit’, but to create and accomplish a comprehensive CAMPAIGN against an enemy we’re going to have to be prudent, and I’ll wager being patient will be part of that as well. That’s not cowardice, that’s smart!

            Seeing how NOBODY on here can possibly know how a conflict will unfold, it’s as possible that a ‘Sitskrieg’ takes place as does a ‘rock em, sock em; dust up right from the get-go. For instance, will both sides attempt to disrupt the others satellite capabilities? If yes, will they do that before or after the conflict starts? There are all sorts of things to consider, and we can drive ourselves crazy trying to anticipate them. I say let’s just be prepared and do our part to be ahead of them.

          • You said previously that you don’t know what the required point is but now you know that both the F-35 and the F/A-18 can’t reach it?

            You can talk about 2000 mile surface launched ASBM’s all you want (even though no one else is), but combat still remains fairly symmetrical and even the Hornet can keep up with the primary enemy – the JH-7.

          • NavySubNuke

            What I said (and this is an exact quote the only thing I changed was to add the bolding was: “Certainly but at the end of the day if the F-35 and F-18 both can’t reach the required weapons release point with a meaningful amount of weapons it doesn’t matter how close it got to that point.”
            Also I didn’t talk about 2000 mile surface launched ASBM – what I talked about was a surface launched ASBM deployed on a mobile platform – specifically the Type 055 cruiser – that could extend the ASBM range to 1500 – 2000 miles. It all depends on how far they can get the cruiser out before we whack it.

          • USNVO

            With the same amount of tanking as provided in the RFP of the MQ-25, a single tanker can extend the range of a single F-35Cs (with full internal ordnance but no external stores) to well over 1000nm. Just exactly how far do you want to go? Note that this is at least as far or further thas the F-14 or A-6 with any reasonable load (since people will argue what reasonable means it could vary somewhat). With 2 MQ-25s to tank outbound and 2 F-18s on the return leg, you can get 4 F-35Cs to 1000nm+. Add in JASSM-ER and you can hit targets at 1500nm+. Again, how far do you want to go?

          • Rocco

            As far as it takes to get the job done! Good points

          • NavySubNuke

            I want to go as far as we need to go — if X is 1,000 miles – then once the MQ-25 arrives in numbers and we are able to integrate it into our CONOPs — excellent!
            But the enemy isn’t standing still either.
            Let’s imagine that China figures out how how to successfully deploy ASBMs with 1000NM range from their Type 055 (not saying they will but if they do manage to solve all the issues and deploy a successful system of that type) then X might be 1500NM – 2000NM until we either kill those cruisers or get enough extra DDGs in place with the battlegroup to successfully defend against the expected salvos.

          • Rocco

            We’ll have eyes in the sky to figure that out!

          • USNVO

            Well, what is it? Unfortunately, in the real world, you have to have a number, not be able to change it at will to fit your narrative. Oops, I drew the line too close, wait did I say 1000NM, I meant 1500NM and if that is not enough, it is 2000NM.

          • NavySubNuke

            That is not a question I can answer – nor can anyone in a public and unclassified forum. But it is a question that NAVAIR needs to answer as they determine how many F-35s to actually buy vs F-18s.
            It all comes down to determining if the juice provided by the F-35 really is that much sweeter than the juice of the F-18 that it is worth the extra price? Can the F-35 really enable the carrier to get into the potential battlespace and better deter our potential adversaries and should a conflict arise can it better fight and win the nation’s wars? And if it is worth it – how much is it worth —- how many squadrons do we want to trade out for F-35s and how many do we want to keep for F-18H/I/Js while we wait for the 6th generation fighter project to deliver a product?
            The Navy has kept the F-18 production line open longer than planned and that gives us the option to consider if the F35 really is worth it. At the end of the day if the legs of the F35 are too short, even with tanking, to allow us to effectively strike the enemy at an acceptable level of risk to the carrier than there is no point in buying it.

          • Rocco

            Ridiculously analysis!! Another words let’s take a chance with older but upgraded Jets etc while our advoceries get ahead of us that we need to catch up instead of staying ahead of the game!!!!

          • NavySubNuke

            The only thing more ridiculous is spending piles of money buying jets that won’t actually help us fight and win the nations wars.
            There is only so much of the budget pie to go around. If F-35s aren’t going to make the Navy a better fighting for that is more capable of deterring our adversaries and actually defeating them in combat should deterrence fail than it is the height of stupidity to pay additional money to purchase them and pay even more money over the next 30 years sustaining them.
            Just because our adversary chooses to buy something doesn’t mean we have to buy it as well – we need to make sure buying it makes sense.
            The idea that you HAVE TO keep up with the Jones’s is how we drove the Soviet Union (and the Baby Boomers drove themselves) into bankruptcy — lets not fall for our own tricks.

          • Rocco

            Seriously!!! You think I’m saying we need to keep up with the jones’s??? …. That’s a typical selfish comment from you as you think you are right all the time. It’s been a long time that we both were in uniform. But your views seem to be conservative on this long debate to the point you can’t get past your stubbornness or your arrogance!! I guess it has to take a real conflict for you get past your old ways!! I guess ball the other countries that have & are now taking a look at the F-35 means they are wrong as well even when other aircraft are available!

          • NavySubNuke

            I don’t know how old you think I am but I am still in uniform.
            I also didn’t question the F-35A or the F-35B which are the versions other countries are looking at. Both of those make sense.
            The only variant i am questioning is the F-35C —- which the Navy itself is also questioning and reviewing so it is hardly stubbornness or arrogance on my part unless you think NAVAIR is also stubborn and arrogant to be considering the same.

          • Rocco

            The First squadron VFA – 121 of the F-35C I deployed as we speak aboard the Carl Vinson FYI. Article in combat aircraft magazine. I don’t believe your in uniform as you stated to me years back you were involved in ship upgrades for the Essex class?? As for you not being arrogant. Proof is in your posts!!

          • NavySubNuke

            You are remembering incorrectly – I have never had a role in the Essex class or any upgrades to it. My active time was submarine/strat nuke focused.
            While I’m no longer in uniform full time I’ll still be doing my part one weekend per month/two weeks per year (and more if I am mobilized again though I am still in dwell for a while) for the next few years until I hit 20. My almost 10 years of active time combined with my mobilization and the 10+ years in the reserves should give me a pretty nice chunk of change based on a 3 year average of O5 pay (even if it is likely that only 1 year will be O5 over 20 pay). My wife can’t wait for me to retire so I’m not sure how long past 20 I’ll stick around.
            Certainly – how else are we to decide what they can do without putting them through their paces? We will certainly have at least a few squadrons of -35Cs but it remains to be seen how many —- one per carrier? three?
            We have a good handle on the O&S costs of an F-18. We also know from the Air Force about how much higher the O&S costs of a stealth airframe are — now we will get to see how it works/costs (or doesn’t work) to maintain a stealth airframe at sea.
            Once we have the actual performance data and the maintenance data we can make an informed decision about how many more to buy rather than just running off half-cocked.

          • Rocco

            Must of been someone else.

      • airider

        Gas alone isn’t an indicator of range. The published figure for the F-14 is a nice round number for a reason.

        F-14’s range was also tied to its aerodynamics…particularly its variable aspect ratio wings that could extend its range appreciably in their “high aspect ratio” and lightly loaded configuration, compared to short stubby wings.

        • Duane

          Effective combat radius is the bottom line for the range of any warbird in combat, accounting for fuel load, weaps load, aerodynamics, fuel burn, and the entire mission profile. The F-35A and C have far longer legs than the Tomcat as well as the Super Hornet, accounting for all of the above.

          • airider

            So you believe the published numbers on Wikipedia?

          • Duane

            Pick any data source or reference you like. The numbers are the numbers.

          • NavySubNuke

            Sure – just like how our submarines can only go to 800 feet because that is what the Navy fact sheets and wikipedia say. Of course everything we say and publish about our weapons systems is completely and totally accurate.

        • Rocco

          The range of the F-14A has nothing to do with its aerodynamics! It was initially built as a long range interceptor hence the need to carry as much fuel as possible.

          • airider

            What?!? Aero(Fluid)dynamics is one the biggest factors, for any craft passing through a fluid, influencing range. You can go really far, on a little gas, if you slip through air/water with little to no drag. You can have long on station time if you have high aspect ratio (long) wings with high lift and low wing loading. You can have a smoother ride a low levels if you have low aspect ratio (stubby) wings and higher wing loading. This is why swing wings were the rage of the 60’s and 70’s, they gave you the benefits of all.

            They are relatively expensive to maintain though compared to fixed wings. During the Cold War, the Navy thought it was worth it.

            The design of the F-14 was mainly influenced by the size of the AWG-9 radar and the AIM-54 Phoenix missile which had survived the F-111B (and previous programs) debacle. The amount of gas carried was a result of having to fit those systems on an aircraft large enough to carry them.

          • Rocco

            Evidently you missed the point here!! The A-7 for example had the longest on station time for a strike aircraft & hardly aerodynamic. The A-10 as well but that’s another topic.

          • airider

            What is your point?

            A-7…no supersonic requirement. Aerodynamics based on F-8 Crusader (supersonic). Larger wing than the F-8 (supporting low wing loading). Same TF-30 turbofan as F-14 (hey…look at that…commonality) without afterburner.

            A-6 had almost double the gas of the A-7 (it was a bigger aircraft) so I’m not sure about the on station time…but if there is one thing I know, lots of the combat radius and range discussions have different mission profiles, so discussing these particulars is a wash.

            A-10, high aspect ratio wings, low speed, high bypass ratio turbofan engine.
            No “fighter” today has a high (>1) bypass ratio turbofan engine on it.

            S-3 also had a high bypass ratio turbofan engine on it…it was the same as the A-10.

          • Rocco

            You missed the point again about aerodynamics. I used the A-7 as an example of not being that!! Nothing to do with being subsonic as I know this!! The A-6 did not have double the gas as the A-7 which FYI doubled as tanker duty as well as it could defend itself with the 20mm gun or AIM-7 sidewinder. Aerodynamics on the A-7 was not based off the F-8 FYI again !!! & I knew that the engines in the S-3 & A-10 are the same type!! As well as the A-7 & F-14A only!! Not the plus A plus or super tomcat! I’ve been in deck with all of these Jets!!

          • airider

            I’m happy you’ve been “in deck”. Were you working at the program offices and design spaces when decisions were made on the designs? It’s okay if you weren’t. There are lots of books published on the design and acquisition of each of these aircraft. Check a few out.

          • Rocco

            It’s called on deck not in deck! Yes I have lots of reference books!! Some older than you! Doesn’t change the fact that you have no idea what your talking about!

          • RDF

            A6 had 16 k internal. Usually 2 drops and 2 MER, or 4 MER and one drop.

          • Duane

            Rocco, Airider is correct to say that aerodynamics affect range significantly, but the bottom line effective combat radius of any aircraft is the product of other factors too, including gross weight, fuel load, engine design, and of course mission profile.

            For example, the F-15E is acknowledged as having the longest legs of any of our existing strike fighters on internal fuel, with a published effective combat radius of about 800 nm on a “high-high” (high altitude cruise, high altitude drop) mission profile. But that radius is achievable only with a minimum bomb load of just 4 GBU-24, 2,300-pound bombs, and no ECM pod. About half its max bomb load. Take the Strike Eagle up to its max 8 GBU-24 loadout and hang an ECM pod under it, and the effective combat radius plummets to only about 300 nm. The difference in range is due to both the added 10,000 pounds of payload and the much dirtier aerodynamics of four more big bombs and the ECM pod hanging under the wings and fuselage.

          • Rocco

            Agreed! But not in the sense of comparison of what he was talking about in itself as far as fuel consumption. Yes aerodynamics had alot to do with everything especially in our personal lives with car’s . Most SUV’s have an egg shape but fuel economy isn’t much different than SUV’s 20 yrs ago. Changing in gas formula fucked that up! Especially winter fuel. The Phantom was a flying brick & burned a lot of fuel! But the E & Navy S version with extra fuel tanks internal gave it pretty good legs! Aerodynamics on it was actually better than the tomcat!

          • RDF

            A6 had longer range and loiter. Witness A7 marshalled lower in the stack than A6. VFR and instrument. carried more ordnance also than A7 while doing it.

          • Rocco

            The only thing A-6 had on the A-7 was all weather . Max payload on A-7-E was 22k!

          • RDF

            With that payload an A7 could move from a hangar to the flightline with a tow tractor. On real strikes our A7 aircraft carried 4 or 6 bombs, and couldn’t keep up with us with our 22 X 500 lb bombs. You are a manchild. S3 was Hoover. Thought everyone knew that.

          • Rocco

            What do you mean by our??? There is no our with you!! You have no idea what your talking about!! Besides it’s not the topic here!!! So enough with the back & for stupid argument here!!! I wasn’t talking about the Viking!!!

          • RDF

            Our… VA75. AIR WING THREE. USS SARATOGA. Our….. My squadron… My A6…

          • RDF

            Thought you were a Hoover PC. thought you said that. If not I apologize.

          • Rocco

            Never said that now if you don’t mind!!!

          • RDF

            And “our” A7 airwing squadrons were VA37, and VA105. Good guys. Good squadrons. Light attack guys.

          • Rocco

            Put a – between each please!!

          • RDF

            My stupid Android phone gets crazy when you hyphenate.

          • Rocco

            Maybe it’s the operator!!!
            Anyone who claims what you did wouldn’t behave the way you have!

          • RDF

            Ok. It is the Android operator. I wouldn’t know what I know if I had not done it for real. And you know that.

          • Rocco

            Sure

          • RDF

            So why were they lower in the stack genius?

      • RDF

        It’s more difficult than that. If you had real experience you would know. Example. Strike includes ea6b and f18. Max range profile for these aircraft differ by 10k and 100 knots. No-one staggers launches on strikes for more than a few min. Go as a package.

    • RDF

      There is no afterburning tac air asset that does not require tanker support.

      • NavySubNuke

        True but not helpful.
        If the legs on the F35 aren’t long enough that the carrier can launch them from a safe (enough) distance than buying or not buying the F35 doesn’t matter since it won’t make a difference in the fight.
        The fact that no other tac air asset would make a difference either doesn’t make the situation better.

        • Duane

          Wrong. You obviously don’t understand air combat to claim that effective range doesn’t matter. Especially for carrier based aircraft.

          You are just arguing for the sake of argument.

          There is a huge fallacy associated with your so-called “safe distance” for carriers. Safe from what? What is the “safe distance” from long range (inter continental), aerially-refuelable heavy bombers carrying long range air launched ASCMs? Both the Russians and Chinese have such bombers and missiles today, as well as very long range ASBMs launchable from land and missile subs.

          What is the “safe distance” from enemy SSNs?

          Carriers and their escorts must simply defend themselves from all threats, aerial, surface, or subsurface, period. Our near peer enemies can take out a US CVN sitting dockside in San Diego or Pearl Harbor, or sitting 500 nm off the coast of China … unless we defend them effectively.

          Having greater range attack aircraft is far less about protecting the carriers than it is about increasing the attack sortie rate, reducing the burden of aerial tanking, and improving the operational efficiency and flexibility of our air wings.

          • El Kabong

            Incorrect!

            ou obviously don’t understand air combat to claim that effective range doesn’t matter. Especially for carrier based aircraft.

            You are just arguing for the sake of argument.

            “Our near peer enemies can take out a US CVN sitting dockside in San Diego or Pearl Harbor, or sitting 500 nm off the coast of China … unless we defend them effectively.”?

            Defend them dockside, with WHAT, exactly, Duaney?

          • Duane

            Same as defending anywhere else, EK. With area air defenses, and even ASW. The Brits lost a major warship – the battleship Royal Oak – at anchor in their biggest warship port, Scapa Flow, to a German U-Boat, in the first month of WWII.

            In the Cold War, both sides penetrated deeply into unfriendly waters with submarines

            There is no such thing as a safe place for a warship.

          • El Kabong

            LMAO!

            Sure Duaney.
            Let’s see where those CVN’s, CG’s and DDG’s are tied up pierside, and have their radars powered up.

          • RDF

            North island now has hemp burning smoke coverage available from the governor’s office on a phone call basis.

          • NavySubNuke

            LOL. Pretty strong words from the same guy who told me no one else in the world had CVNs except for America yet lacked the integrity to admit he was wrong when I pointed out the existence of the Charles de Gaulle.
            No worries there Duane – we’ve had this debate before and I realize you think the carrier battlegroup should be equally capable of defending itself against 4 missiles fired from a submarine off the coast of the US as it is against 1000+ missiles fired 100 miles off the coast of China but most people understand there is a difference.

          • RDF

            If sea based force projection, is dependent on Air Scout tanking assets, Naval Air is just another air guard outfit. We often undertake missions because we can, not because it’s efficient. Pushing hornet assets into 5 hour 6 hour 4 tanking missions is a burn out of people and airframes. For no purpose in 90% when Air Scout assets could do that mission just as well, from in country in some cases.

          • True to some extent – but the further away you are, the fewer enemy assets can reach you. I’d rather be 1000 miles away and face a couple dozen bombers and a handful of SSN’s than 500 miles away fighting off hundreds of fighters and scores of diesel subs.

        • Rocco

          Again makes no sense!! Stick to subs !

        • El Kabong

          What’s the range for all the Hornet variants?

          Compared to the a/c they replaced, the A-7, F-4, F-14, etc?

          • RDF

            A6, which beat all the above.

          • El Kabong

            Well, they’re all designed for different missions, so to say the A-6 “beat them all” is a bit disingenuous. 😉

            Didn’t see A-6’s doing ACM. 🙂

          • RDF

            A6 beats all of them in range. And A6 whipped up on A7 and F4 that were badly flown, or, had no gas for burner. Same wingloading as A4.

          • El Kabong

            Did A-6’s have AAM’s? Cannon?

            “Same wingloading as A4.”?

            So?

            Thrust to weight ratio….Instantaneous turn rate….Sustained turn rate…Rate of climb…

          • RDF

            The A4 embarassed many many aviators in ACM. Your slip is showing. Yes. A6 carried AIM9 and I have fired a hotel model from it. It was qualified to carry a gun pod but I never saw one. Didn’t matter. We flew at night low level when all the fighter guys were in the bar. No-one but A6s were flying most nights.

          • El Kabong

            Answer my questions…

            I’d LOVE to see those A-6’s carrying ‘Winders in combat. Thanks.

            “It was qualified to carry a gun pod but I never saw one.”?

            Hilarious!
            Which pod? Let’s see proof of that.

          • RDF

            The only reference I can find says MK 4 gun pod. 20mm.

          • El Kabong

            When and where was it carried?

          • RDF

            A6 intruder infrequently during late 60s . it was in the Tac Manual, but iit was notorious for jamming. Like I said I never even saw one.

          • El Kabong

            Once AGAIN….prove it.

            Answer my questions.

          • RDF

            You can prove it easy enough. Prove what? A6 Tac Manual had every authorized legal load configuration. Winder was legal on every wing parent rack. Stations 1,2,4,5. Lau 7 rack on a parent rack station. I shot a hotel off an A6 in 1979. Google the Tac manual. Maybe someone has it in the net. It was only confidential. Prove it. You are being difficult on purpose.

          • El Kabong

            You can back up your claims, easy enough.
            Or you can’t.

            Simple.

            Answer my questions.

          • RDF

            There is a difference between claims and facts. You are just being argumentative for no rationale that I can determine.

          • El Kabong

            You’re squirming, instead of answering some simple questions.

            Sadly, childish.

          • RDF

            I know Whidbey trained as most of the great complaint came from west coast. Oceana I never saw one. They were,probably there somewhere in the depths of the armory.

          • El Kabong

            So, ZERO use in service.

          • RDF

            You can Google blog entries from a6 guys whining about it jamming. If I can find it in 5 min so can you. You are just torturing. I personally shot an AIM9 G or H, cant remember which in 1979. What else you want detective?

          • El Kabong

            Or, you can back up your claims…

            What other squirming do you have, poser?

          • RDF

            Why would whibey be not in service? Fleet squadrons doing training.

          • El Kabong

            LMAO!

            Was it used in combat?
            Ever seen on a deployment?

            Go ahead, show me a photo of one A-6 being catapulted while carrying a gun pod, in service.

          • RDF

            Every legal ordnance load goes through hundreds of launches and recoveries and normal and emergency jettison testing. The fact that winder and gun pods were certified legal ordnance loads means they had to have done what you are requesting as proof. Once again your limited aviation experience is showing. This topic is done. Not sure what you mean by poser. I have well over 300. Arrested landings on different carriers. Different aircraft but the vast majority A6 and CV60. good night friend.

          • El Kabong

            Answer the questions…

          • RDF

            It was not common to carry a winder. But we did on occasion. It was mounted on LAU7 and it took a whole parent rack.

          • El Kabong

            Still waiting for answers…

          • RDF

            To what? You are being difficult.

          • El Kabong

            To the questions I asked a few posts ago.

            You’re squirming.

            Quit it.

        • RDF

          F 18 had no legs. Harrier has no legs. All the legful aircraft have moved to the desert.

    • Rocco

      Stupid comment!

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      Longest internally fueled range of any US jet fighter.

      • Rocco

        Is??

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          The Lightning!

          • Rocco

            Except the Strike eagle!

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            No.

            Remove the CFTs & EFTs and it’s internal fueled range is below the Lightning.

            Remember, without all those extra tanks screwed to the Eagle, it carries 5,000lbs less fuel than the Lightning.

            Anyone out there arguing that the Lightning is short-legged is just wrong.

          • Rocco

            Not talking about external tanks! FAST paks only .I will check this.

  • omegatalon

    Looks a bit like an updated RQ-170 Sentinel (Beast of Kandahar) and Lockheed’s X-44A Manta UAV; one has to think there were issues which prevented the F-35 from using the Pratt&Whitney F119 engine used by Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor and capable of supercruise as the thrust-vector would have also been a major plus as it would have made all variants of the F-35 more agile.

    • Duane

      Agility is virtually useless in today’s aerial warfare. Nobody dogfights with machine guns up close anymore.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        What? Say WHAT?

        • Duane

          Apparently you are not aware that the last time a US fighter engaged in a dogfight was 27 years ago … and that that dogfight in 1991 was the only one to take place since the end of the Vietnam War.

          Yes, nobody dogfights with guns any more … that is an anachronism from the first half of the 20th century.

          • NavySubNuke

            “Apparently you are not aware that the last time a US fighter engaged in a dogfight was 27 years ago ”
            I’m sure the US Navy F-18 crew that shot down an Su-22 over Syria in June 2017 would disagree with you.
            The F-15 crew that shot down an unidentified drone that same month, also over Syria, would probably also disagree with you.
            Or how about the Yugoslav Mig-29 an Air Force F-16 shot down in 1999 – I bet they would also disagree.
            “that is an anachronism from the first half of the 20th century.”
            CNO Moorer, who created TOPGUN in 1968 after the poor performance of US Air to Air Missiles would certainly chuckle at the ignorant foolishness you display here.
            Nice attempt though Duane.

          • Rocco

            That incident disagrees with me also!

          • El Kabong

            LMAO!

            Clearly, you haven’t been keeping current, Duaney.

            What did the A-10’s use for their A-A kills in Desert Storm, Duaney?

            There have also been kills made by other countries, boy.

            Too busy cheerleading for the Little Crappy Ship…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Duane, do NOT lecture me about any aspect of history. You are singularly ill equipped to do so. My amazement at your assertion is based on the sheer inanity of it. The F-22 is OPTIMIZED for dog fighting. That is a lesson learned from HISTORY when the Navy AND Air Force built a fighter (the F-4) that they truly bought into being able to engage adversaries from long range with electronics and missiles. Do tell there pal, how did THAT work out? And this is NOT about ‘guns’ at all, most dogfights involve short range AA missiles like the Sidewinder. Please try to keep up!

            Ever hear of a little ditty called ‘rules of engagement’ Duane? Hmmm? Those alone tend to invalidate any technological edge gleaned from long range sensors and weaponry. Planes must close to their potential targets, to ensure that they are not shooting at something that is NOT their intended target. And those RoE are but ONE aspect that can play into all this. At least they will, or might, in any given conflict. Remember the airliner shot down over Ukraine by the Ruskies just a few years ago? That’a what can happen if RoE are not certified and followed.

            Duane, does the Navy still operate their Top Gun’ school? WHY would they if ‘dogfighting’ is no longer relevant? How come the AF still trains for dogfighting? Technology doesn’t always allow for the optimum use of it, and thankfully those in charge of our military aviation do not think along the lines YOU do!

            One more thing here Duane, and I’m not a combat pilot, but even I know this: maneuvering, and being able to exploit the AGILITY in a plane. can help break radar locks and can still throw off the track missiles take towards their target. Maybe ONE DAY technology will indeed overcome that, but that day ain’t TODAY!

            OK?

          • WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

            No worries Ches, the fleet admiral is expert in all things, submarines, ships, aircraft, tactics, technology, procurement, and even politics (shown often by his hate for the POTUS), after all, that’s why he got promoted to fleet admiral in record time-only 6 months.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            LOL. It took THAT long?

      • El Kabong

        No one uses “machine guns” in fighters anymore, Duaney…

      • Dogfighting with guns is not the only use for agility – it can help you get a better missile shot and also comes in handy when dodging enemy missiles.

  • Curtis Conway

    Tanking Redundancy/Reliability, Secure Comms, and how much ‘give’ should be the determining factors in this equation.

  • Sir Bateman

    Just for the sake of comparison how does the MQ-25 compare to the KA-3, KA-6D and the proposed but never adopted KS-3 strictly in terms off how much fuel it can offload?

    I wonder if the USN would’ve been better off pulling some S-3s out of Davis-Montham and refurbishing and converting them solely to the tanker role?

    • RDF

      Normal cycle giveaway of KA6 = 12K. 1 + 30 cycle.

    • USNVO

      The KA-3 could probably meet the requirement of 15klbs at 500-550nm but would probably be running on fumes when it returned.

      The KA-6 would not be close, probably no more than 10klbs at that range.

      A KS-3 (note that this animal only existed as a prototype which was coverted to a US-3) could carry about 25klbs of fuel total and may have been able to get 15klbs of that to 500-550nm. Note that this would have totally removed all mission equipment from the S-3 so it would only be a tanker.

      A standard S-3 couldn’t even deliver 15klbs of fuel immediately overhead (it only carries 17klbs or so with a refueling pod).

      F-18E can carry about the same amount of gas as a KA-6 but uses it up a lot faster. So it would be even more challenged to fly to 500-550nm and then give gas to anyone.

      When determining the potential of older aircraft, you need to consider time and cost to refurbish and updating to a modern cockpit standard, totally restoring the pilot pool, creating all new squadrons from scratch, buying all new spare parts, re-establishing the depot, etc. Unless it is converted to a single seat aircraft, just finding pilots and maintainers for S-3 squadrons makes it cost and personnel prohibitive.

      • Sir Bateman

        Thanks, I appreciate the response, that’s exactly what I was interested in knowing.

        Just one more question, isn’t incorporating the MQ-25 into existing air wings going to bring about many of the same issues vis-a-vis a theoretical KS-3? That is creating new units from scratch, researching and developing a new aircraft, putting it into production, spare parts, additional personnel, etc?

        • USNVO

          Yes and no.

          – The MQ-25 will be “flown” mostly by enlisted sailors and the officer pilots will come from other communities like E-2/C-2. So, no new pilots. Massive savings, personnel and budget right there.
          – There will be fewer maintainers. No one for OBOGS or O2 service, no ejection seats, no displays that crap out, etc. And because it will be new, it will be digital, fly by wire, and (probably) be much more reliable. And because you won’t have to maintain some pilots proficiency at landing, the total number of sorties will be less. In any event, it is fewer than if you have a 30yr old plane.
          – There will still be spares, but unlike say a A-6 where you have to find someone who makes obsolete parts since they don’t make them that way anymore, the MQ-25s parts are going to be modern and in production. So they will cost less and there will be a lot fewer complex ones like ejection seats or HUDS. And of course, it is a pretty simple aircraft.

          So yes, they will have the same problems with the MQ-25, and probably a few new ones as well, but the magnitude of the issue should be way less.

      • muzzleloader

        The A-3 airframes are all scrap metal now, shipmate. The only place to see one now is the museum at Pensacola.

        • USNVO

          Actually there are at least 4 of the KA-3A/Bs scattered throughout the country plus a bunch of other versions as well so you have a few choices besides Pensacola. None of them can still fly of course but the question was a comparison of the capability and the KA-3 was specifically mentioned.

  • Duane

    Low observable is the way to go. Easily targeted tankers would be a prime target for enemy forces, whether serving stealthy F-35s or non-stealthy Super Hornets. The ability to reconfigure for other missions such as ECM, ISR, or attack also makes great sense, even if the initial configuration is limited to tanking the strike fighters.

    • RDF

      So how do the rendezvousing aircraft find the stealthy tanker in EMCON III state? “Go to the second island, see the tree? Look up”.

      • airider

        There are ways to do this, but each has its capabilities and limitations that need to be planned for. The key for keeping your transmissions from “spilling over” in to places you don’t want them to go is to use the right kind of antennas. You then have options about how you establish and maintain those comms with technology and/or planning.

        • RDF

          The only antenna steerage I know of on tac air is the radar, and now I think that is done electronically for the most part. The others are on off. EMCON III is all off.

      • Rocco

        & you follow the leader!!

  • DaSaint

    Northrop Grumman is kicking themselves. Probably feel duped or that LM has inside information.

    • Phil Verhey

      Nope, LM’s 1st design goes back to a naval RQ-170 variant for the UCLASS, after it was switched to tanker only, they started a clean sheet.
      The tailless design shape was chosen because it simplifies manufacturing, there is less parts to build & LM has large complex autoclave systems already for large complex composite body parts.
      The tailless design was also chosen because it fits WAY more gass inside than the Avenger/Boeing design ever could.

      The lower drag coefficient also means it gets to fly higher & faster on less gas itself for longer.

      Summary:
      Less parts to make
      Simplified manufacturing
      Carries far more gas
      Can fly longer & farther

      There are key differences between the RQ-170 which was optimized for stealth & this 25 design.
      This design is not optimised for Low observable radar return.

  • RunningBear

    Both the KS-3 and KA-6 UAVs would have been quicker to the flightdeck than waiting for the eternal 2026 MQ-25. 2019 would have been possible with a Boeing type QF-16 system based around MADL. Either would have allowed for the infrastructure development for the eventual MQ-25 type operations. If frogs had wings……! The Cobham AAR tanking is “OK” for initial operations but from the LO aspect a “newer” LO (less the propeller) type would be a better suited for deeper penetrating into the contested strike areas.

    • El Kabong

      Not even remotely close.

      Worn out, old airframes…Development costs and time for converting them into UAV’s…

  • RobM1981

    I would think that this design would require less hangar space, too. This further improves the teeth to tail ratio.

    • El Kabong

      That isn’t what “teeth to tail ratio” refers to…

      • RobM1981

        Teeth: F/A-18’s
        Tail: logistic elements – like tankers.

        Every time an F-18 is configured as a tanker, it’s not available for the strike (or other) mission.

        If the drone takes up less space than the 18, but provides as much fuel, then the hangar can hold more 18’s (“teeth”) without reducing the logistics capacity (tail – refueling). Thus the ratio of teeth to tail improves.

        Obviously I was way off.

        • El Kabong

          ???

          A UCAV takes up space.
          It’s a trade off.

  • Ed L

    Amazing Design which hasn’t changed too much from the late 1930’s design of the N-1M: the first Northrop flying wing. But until the first ones come out. In hindsight I bet the idoits that retired the S-3’s would have wished they kept them in service until a new tanker was in service. Or did they fall on their sword? Or take the Money and run.

    • Rocco

      The idiots that retired the S-3 had no idea to envision the future of what it needs at that time not the future. The hornet doubled as a tanker quite well plus it could defend itself without needing an escort!! I guess that was a stupid idea!!??

      • Leroy

        Using F/A-18s as tankers is one of the reasons they’ve worn out so quickly. This has caused the USN to have to procure additional F/A-18s. Some F-35 critics try and say these SH buys are an indication that the Navy doesn’t want F-35C, but they are not being truthful.

        F-35C will be procured at a full buy of 260 aircraft (the Marines 80 “C”s), and the CVW will have 2 squadrons of F-35C and two squadrons of F/A-18. That’s the plan, and the Navy is pressing forward with it. The fact that both the Boeing and Lockheed MQ-25A entrants are stealth or “stealthy” shows the Navy is committed to flying stealth fighters off the decks of both their CVNs and LHAs.

        • Rocco

          CVNS yes not in LHA’s yet. Unless they contraption a slingshot launchers like the Essex class had not all from the port side hangar bay & for recovery have it land on the water with pontoons or string a barrier on the flight deck. But I don’t think the flight deck is wide enough to clear the island. Now it the LGA was 900′ it would work.

          • Leroy

            JATO! : )

          • Rocco

            ???

          • Leroy

            Jet-assisted take-off (actually more accurate to say rocket-assisted). You know – Fat Albert. Just a joke. : )

          • Rocco

            Lol nothing new!! What’s old is new again!

        • Mali King

          Word!

      • El Kabong

        “The hornet doubled as a tanker quite well plus it could defend itself without needing an escort!!”?

        First, the USN has finally clued into the fact that their Hornets are being thrashed, merely to haul gas.
        What’s the cost/flying hour for a supersonic multi-role fighter?

        Second, if the enemy gets close to your tankers, you have SERIOUSLY screwed up.
        HVA escort is a thing.

      • RDF

        Finally, something I agree with you. Incredibly stupid. Court martial stupid. Go clean the canopy on 301 Mr PC.

        • Rocco

          GFYS!!! ….. FYI fighters don’t have 300 ## JO!!!

          • RDF

            SFA DO.

          • Rocco

            RDF ….Stands for rude dumb F…K!!!

          • RDF

            Strike fighter guys are still 300 and 400. Fighter guys are still 100 and 200. They just called down from flight deck control. They need you to ride brakes down in hangar bay 2 on a broke Hoover.

          • Rocco

            Yeah sure !! Your mom makes a great Hoover!!

  • Leroy

    I see lots of talks about F-35C legs. Israel is designing an external tank (not sure if it’s drop or conformal or both) so they have better legs to hit Iran with their F-35Is (if necessary). Once they’re done (and we procure them) combine a stealth external tank with the C’s significant internal fuel load, then add tanking and what you have is a CVBG that could stay 1500 nm out to sea and successfully launch all-stealth night-1 sorties. The CVN can come closer once the LR threat is lessened.

  • b2

    Is this real? A flying wing with a buddy store? Who can make this stuff up? Pinch me. Stealth- low observable? Just what does that mean in todays environment and digital radar technology? I can see that LM took the long view and that this vehicle has to have some perception of stealth in a questionable stealth world.. Basically LM appears to have come up with a “glossy” answer to an unrealistic and reaching USN requirement… Just like the JSF-F-35 program- yes- scoped down but it will prove a $$/deficit adding and time eating acquisition with a selection like this…Fool me once.. Same for the Boeing offering- these companies just want to make $$.
    Does anyone besides me see something entirely undoable here with this super developmental looking design and it’s basic carrier suitability? What about its tanker suitability for a maneuverable and agile overhead tanker? Designing an aircraft that can offload 15-25K fuel and have bring aboard offload, etc. will be daunting. Cmon… I predict 10 + years until we see anything close to IOC- minimum, at that. That means 2030. Meanwhile just to tread water in a 65 aircraft CV air wing we’ll have to buy hundreds of new SuperHornets as tankers!
    Yes- we could of had an operational air tanker, the KS-3B- manned or unmanned, in business and in fleet use by 2018/2019, had we had started in 2012. That’s a fact-Jack… And the whole reactivation would have cost 10% of this MQ-25 budding, 50 state, boondoggle about to be let! But due to the USNs recent indecisiveness and missing/untraceable leadership, we didn’t and now we have this…..
    All we will purchase is another constant, small deep cut, that will lead to the death of Carrier Naval Aviation that once won the Battle of Midway..

    • Rocco

      Oh stop your crying!! Stealth technology jumped into the play faster than the planners thought the way we do battle in the present future in the need for tanker requirements for ARG missions as it wasn’t needed until the JSF !! What old is always new again in some shape or form!! Think about it.

      • B2

        Sorry “Rocco” of LM B-DEV, this new “baby” is as “Yugly” as your first that you so ardently and pungently defend! Nice Lead Sled avatar.

        BTW, IMO stealth worked in 1991 not sure about 2018… except in SciFi and TV shows.
        B2

        • Rocco

          My avatar is my jet that I was a PC on!! FYI! If your talking about the F-117? It’s already old technology & has no bearing on Naval stealth!! So your point is pointless!! Besides stupid!! So go back & watch TV!!!

          • b2

            The windscreen is dirty Rocco, clean it …

          • Rocco

            Your face is dirty wash it!

          • PolicyWonk

            LOL!

          • Rocco

            😜!!

          • muzzleloader

            Geez, it’s like I’m back in high school.

          • Rocco

            ???

    • RDF

      That is a stealth D704 . you can see the little prop on the front is feathered…. Stealthy…. :-]

    • Phil Verhey

      The flying wing is about getting as much gas onboard as possible & removing the number of parts in manufacturing.

      The choice has little to do with radar return.

    • Phil Verhey

      , LM’s 1st design goes back to a naval RQ-170 variant for the UCLASS, after it was switched to tanker only, they started a clean sheet.
      The tailless design shape was chosen because it simplifies manufacturing, there is less parts to build & LM has large complex autoclave systems already for large complex composite body parts.
      The tailless design was also chosen because it fits WAY more gass inside than the Avenger/Boeing design ever could.

      The lower drag coefficient also means it gets to fly higher & faster on less gas itself for longer.

      Summary:
      Less parts to make
      Simplified manufacturing
      Carries far more gas
      Can fly longer & farther

      There are key differences between the RQ-170 which was optimized for stealth & this 25 design.
      This design is not optimised for Low observable radar return.

      • B2

        Mr. Verhey,

        I’ll wager you whatever you want it will take 10 years to IOC even one squadron of these contraptions if they win despite composite manufacturing and other industrial lessons learned. To me it’s all about the complex and underestimated, “carrier suitability”. That critical path set of requirements will NOT come cheap or easy….. Your “mo gas and higher flying-faster” is aero accurate on paper but “carrier suitability” does not come naturally for a developmental platform like this flying wing… IMO they should have proposed the S-3B at AMARG for the interim vehicles UNTIL this big flying wing is really proven IN/AROUND the CVN and capable of chasing down thirsty Hornets “Trick of Treat and at night, and not be simply some cat/trap demo like the N-G UCAV. However as we have learned with JSF, once 10 or twenty billion $$ is sunk into R&D, prototypes ,etc. it will be too late to go back…..

        • Phil Verhey

          LOL, I’ll wager you haven’t seen the purchase road map for the aircraft programme. 😉

          Just laughing at the irony & coincidence.

          Don’t worry, people who are getting paid to know what they’re doing – know what they’re doing.

          • Rocco

            Kudos! He’s a Air Farce boy don’t listen to him!!

  • NavySubNuke

    LOL – sure Duane, whatever lies you have to make up to make yourself feel better about being wrong about everything. I notice you didn’t address the 1999 shoot down or the fact that TOP GUN was create in the SECOND half the 20th century.
    Your complete and utter lack of any kind of personal integrity really is my favorite quality of yours. It is so much more entertaining than your over sized ego and undersized intellect.
    Have you figured out yet what other countries, besides the US, have CVNs yet?

    • El Kabong

      Point out to Rear Adm. Duaney, that other countries also shot down other fighters, such as Pakistan, Israel, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, etc, and watch the hilarity that ensues.

  • El Kabong

    Clearly, you have no clue about the range limitations for those data-links, Duaney.

  • El Kabong

    You’re an embarrassment, Duaney.

  • El Kabong

    Oh, the irony….

    • Jonesy

      We believe there’s a bromance happening between Rocco and the Fleet admiral, say it isn’t so.

      • El Kabong

        As long as they don’t procreate.

      • Rocco

        No it ain’t so!! But when he’s right I will recognize it.

  • Leroy

    Could this be used as a strike UCAV? Drop bombs and missiles while maintain stealth? Sure! Isn’t that what Boeing claims they can do by putting a stealth weapons pod on the center-line hardpoint of the F/A-18? The same could be done with this LM drone – put a conformal stealth weapons pod on the centerline. I wonder how extensive modifications would be? I wonder what targeting systems could be incorporated in the nose of this thing? Food for (future) thought.

    • Rocco

      What Boeing is calling Phantom works!!

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Key word of course being “concept”.

    Shame about Northrop’s X-47…… seemed to be many years ahead of the competition.

  • El Kabong

    Lead by example.

    THINK.

    Then, go back and re-read the thread you butted into.