DARPA wants to allow KC-46 tanker planes to recharge drone batteries with a high-energy laser

The Pentagon's innovation agency, DARPA, has issued a request for proposals regarding the possibility of equipping US Air Force KC-36 and KC-135 tanker aircraft with a high-energy laser pod capable of transfer energy to drones in flight, so as to extend their autonomy and lighten their energy storage devices. DARPA, the U.S. Armed Forces Innovation Agency, issued a request for information on June 13 regarding a device capable of transferring energy between a tanker aircraft, such as the KC-46 or KC-135, and a drone in flight, through a high-energy laser embedded in a…

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As the Boeing KC-46 accumulates difficulties, Airbus demonstrates the automatic flight refueling capability of the A330 MRTT

We had already talked about it on Meta-Defense: Airbus has been working for a few years on an automatic in-flight refueling system for its A330 MRTT, and had found a launch customer in Singapore. Today, the European aircraft manufacturer announces that its Automatic Air-to-Air Refueling (A3R) system has been successfully tested during a flight test campaign involving an F-16. The flight tests would have taken place a few weeks ago over the Atlantic. They would have involved an Airbus MRTT tanker aircraft equipped with the A3R system as well as an F-16 fighter aircraft from the Portuguese air force. The test campaign would have…

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Boeing restarts KC-46 and P-8 production after three weeks of shutdown

On March 25, Boeing announced that it was ceasing production of airliners at its various production sites in the Puget Sound region, near Seattle. The state of Washington has indeed been seriously affected by the Covid-19 epidemic, forcing the closure of the main businesses in the region. For Boeing, this meant ceasing production of civilian aircraft, but also military aircraft derived from them, such as the KC-46 Pegasus tanker and the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. After three weeks of closure, the Pegasus line in Everett and the Poseidon in Renton were relaunched this morning, with sanitary measures…

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KC-46: more bad news for Boeing

Since the launch of the USAF KC-46 Pegasus tanker program, technical problems, delays and additional costs have accumulated, to such an extent that the thirty or so aircraft already delivered today are unable to carry out combat missions. The main technical problem encountered by the Boeing tanker still seems to concern the Remote Vision System (RVS), a system of cameras and sensors allowing an operator to remotely guide the Pegasus' refueling pole. A few days ago, an agreement would have finally been reached between Boeing and the USAF in order to solve the problems once and for all...

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KC-46 Pegasus faces new technical problems, further increasing pressure on Boeing

For Boeing, the setbacks of the KC-46 Pegasus program look more and more like a never-ending story. While the purchase of 179 new tankers is essential for US Air Force projection operations, the new aircraft has been accumulating delays and additional costs for years. While Boeing promises to increase its efforts to quickly correct the most problematic technical issues, it seems that a new Category 1 problem has recently appeared. Indeed, the USAF would have continued to report serious fuel leaks requiring this technical problem to be upgraded to the rank of critical technical defects. The category…

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Boeing suspends production of P-19 Poseidon and KC-8 Pegasus aircraft due to Covid-46

Since the day before yesterday, Boeing factories in the state of Washington (in the North-West of the United States) began to drastically slow down their activity after the state of emergency was declared in this state. Indeed, the Seattle region is today one of the most affected by the coronavirus epidemic in the USA. As a result, as of today March 25, Boeing's production should be completely halted for a period of two weeks. For the defense sector, this mainly concerns mission aircraft based on civil airframes, in this case the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and the KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft, respectively…

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Chinese Army simulates massive amphibious assault on Hainan Island, Taiwan replica

The Chinese island of Hainan, with its 34.000 km2 and its 1.500 km of coastline, is in itself a province of the country which is home to 8 million inhabitants and has numerous defense infrastructures, in particular the nuclear submarine base of Longpo next to the city of Yulin, is in many aspects, a life-size replica of the island of Taiwan, with its 36.000 km2 and its 1550 km of coastline. Obviously, the thing did not escape the strategists of the People's Liberation Army, who organized, this weekend, a huge naval and amphibious exercise, taking place precisely on...

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US Congress speeds up withdrawal of US Air Force's oldest planes except A-10

Since the mid-2010s, each new Pentagon funding law has given rise to a showdown between the US Air Force and the US Congress, over the accelerated withdrawal of aircraft deemed unsuitable for modern operational needs, so as to free up budgetary and human resources to accommodate new equipment, and in particular the F-35A Lighting II and the future NGAD, intended to replace the F-22 by the end of the decade. And each year, an aircraft concentrates this opposition, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the mythical low-altitude fire support aircraft, which was designed to eliminate tank columns...

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Lockheed-Martin and Airbus to face Boeing for new US Air Force tanker contract

In 2008, Airbus, then EADS, and the American Northrop Grumman, won the KC-X competition to provide a new tanker aircraft to the US Air Force, with an aircraft designated KC-45A derived from the A330 MRTT. But following legal protests from Boeing, which offered its KC-46, the decision was taken to cancel the competition to make a new one. Faced with intense lobbying from the American firm, and the withdrawal of Northrop Grumman from the partnership with EADS, the Seattle aircraft manufacturer finally won the new competition in 2011, on the basis of a Boeing B-767 adapted to the needs of the 'US Air Force, and designated KC-46A. An order of 179…

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The Pentagon's 2022 budget marks a major shift

After several weeks of waiting, the Biden Administration presented its first annual budget for the United States defense effort. Although it was the subject of several upstream declarations, and numerous comments, this new Pentagon budget marks a profound evolution in the strategy that the White House wants to employ to prepare and employ its armed forces, with a line of sight, the increasingly fierce competition between the United States and China in the Pacific. To be able to meet this challenge now deemed almost inevitable by American officials, including the President himself, Biden administration executives,…

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