US Air Force Tanker

by ilsm

Here is a quick update from GAO on the US Air Force Tanker procurement debacle.

Not to seem biased but “what were they thinking?”

An oral history on “requirements”.

In World War II it was obvious that the ability to haul short range, fighter aircraft around the ocean expanses would be critical to beating Japan and Germany in the naval wars. There were no refueling aircraft to shepherd the fighters across the seas.

The standard navy line was to build a large fleet carriers, which were very fast ships and carried a large complement of aircraft. The model was the carriers which won at Midway, large air arms mixed to engage in fleet combat, which is against other forces equipped with similar carriers.

The fleet carriers were very versatile and at huge expense could also engage in anti submarine warfare, convoy escort and delivering attack aircraft to newly secured airfields.

In 1942 the US Navy could send only one fleet carrier to the Atlantic, to support the convoys crossing the Atlantic as well as other missions. Royal Navy air arms were busy keeping the Mediterranean open. The US Navy ultimately ordered 30 Essex class fleet carriers of which delivered 24 by the end of the war.

Henry Kaiser delivered an “unsolicited proposal” to build escort carriers which were about a third the displacement of fleet carriers. They supported a couple dozen aircraft while the fleet boats carried 3 or 4 times that number.

Kaiser delivered 50 escort carriers from the Kaiser shipyard in Washington State between Nov 1942 and July 1944.

These were the ships which ferried fighters to the invasions in the Pacific, they escorted convoys of US soldiers going to Britain and they were responsible in large part for ending the German submarine threat in the European theater.

What were the admirals thinking when they only ordered fleet carriers?

What was the US Air Force thinking when they ordered the aerial refueling version of fleet carriers when 99% of the mission needs jeep refuelers like the KC 135?

I will be viewed as biased if I report that all the talk about old aircraft ignores and subverts the fact that the KC-135 airframes have flown less than half the hours they were designed for and far fewer than the Boeing 707 has shown can be economically flown.

The admirals, like the US Air Force today only see big toys that can do every thing but miss the small numbers and high cost to do most of the missions.

More on making needs into requirements next time we I whittle a beak.
by ilsm