Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] News, Discussions and Updates

Takao

The Bunker Group
The RAAF requires an airborne refuelling platform that incorporates a boom. At the present and for the foreseeable future, the only platforms with that capability are modified airliners. I very strongly suspect that the $17.5 to $26.2 billion price cited for the KC-30 replacement is the WOLC (Whole Of Life Costs) for the capability, not the flyaway costs. If it was just the flyaway costs that would be something like 30 - 40 aircraft and I can't see any justication whatsoever for a number of platforms that high.
Your assumptions are not incorrect....except for one.

There is no guarantee that the RAAF is only required to provide a boom refueller. Future capabilities may require drogue. And the FSP does state the AAR fleet will be a crewed/uncrewed mix. These allow for two types of AAR
 

John Newman

The Bunker Group
There is a solution to Australia's long range strike capability that I suspect is being considered. The 2020 Defence update decided against acquiring additional MRTT aircraft while at the same time recommending investment in a larger replacement fleet for the KC-10A. Australia's KC10-A replacement has a massive $17.5 to $26.2 billion price tag which makes it the single most expensive program the RAAF will be involved in through to 2040. To me this would seem to point toward a substantial fleet of tankers and probably something much more capable than a large unwieldy converted airliner.

My mind immediately goes to something like the USNs MQ-25 Stingray.
Sorry what?

The RAAF doesn’t operate ‘KC-10A’ or even ‘KC10-A’, it operates KC-30A.

As for MQ-25 Stingray, it is no more capable than a Super Hornet with a ‘buddy tank’ AAR kit.

A future KC-30A replacement is more than likely to be based on another long ranged wide bodied commercial design, if not A330, possibly the next generation A350 for example.

Let’s not forget the KC-30A is not just a AAR tanker, it is also a valuable asset that is more than capable of transporting cargo and personnel too.
 

vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
In regards to the Super Hornet future decision, What needs to be considered is also the Growler. Being the same base aircraft there is plenty of efficiencies in having 35 (11 Growlers, 24 Shornets) for the maintenance and costs involved. Replacing the Shornets with something different to what ever Growler replacement could potentially have negative effects on one or the other or even both. Way I see it only 2 real options, Either keep with Shornet or get the extra 28 F-35 options we have, Anything else existing would be a distraction rather then helpful while the NGAD or any other of several programs currently planned for that time period more then likely wont be able to deliver a fieldable asset around decision time leaving us backl to Shornets being kept or 4th F-35 squadron.

I also wouldnt make the assumption that the 4th squadron would be made up of Loyal Wingman as the DWP has set aside upto $11 billion for that sort of capability outside of the 4th squadron replacement.

As for the KC-30 well all options appear to be allowed for with it stating for an 'expanded' fleet of crewed and/or uncrewed aircraft. At bare minimum we will likely replace our current aircraft on a one for one basis with similar aircraft types (maybe larger, maybe unmanned who knows) but with budget set aside it wouldnt surprise me if they are thinking long term to potentially have an unmanned refueling capability to buddy up with our future 'Teaming air vehicles' giving them even greater range.

2025 through to 2035 will be a very big period for the RAAF with the amount of programs going on, 4th squadron, C-130 replacement, E-7A replacement, KC-30A replacement, Growler replacement, Teaming air vehicles along with addition ISR and that is just the aircraft.
 

Stampede

Well-Known Member
The KC-30 is seemingly a relatively young platform and one that is well regarded globally.
I'm puzzled as to 11 billion for its replacement.
Is it timing / need / new emerging technologies.

I was surprised that the additional two for a total of nine were not taken up as the KC-30 seemed to tick a lot of boxes for the RAAF.

Can some one "Please explain"

confused

Regards S
 

vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
The KC-30 is seemingly a relatively young platform and one that is well regarded globally.
I'm puzzled as to 11 billion for its replacement.
Is it timing / need / new emerging technologies.

I was surprised that the additional two for a total of nine were not taken up as the KC-30 seemed to tick a lot of boxes for the RAAF.

Can some one "Please explain"

confused

Regards S
KC-30A budget isn't $11 billion, it's $17.5 - $26.2 billion.

The $11 billion is for the teaming air vehicles ie: loyal wingman.

Why we didn't get the last 2 might have come down to operational requirements and fiscal responsibility. While 7 might seem like a small number for a force the size of ours it's huge and the 2 extra aircraft might not have given much extra capability for money spent while plenty of other areas that could give much greater capability for that money.
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
KC-30A budget isn't $11 billion, it's $17.5 - $26.2 billion.

The $11 billion is for the teaming air vehicles ie: loyal wingman.

Why we didn't get the last 2 might have come down to operational requirements and fiscal responsibility. While 7 might seem like a small number for a force the size of ours it's huge and the 2 extra aircraft might not have given much extra capability for money spent while plenty of other areas that could give much greater capability for that money.
Might have also come down to lack of suitable Aircraft. Aircraft 6 & 7 were ex Qantas Aircraft of similar vintage to the first 5 KC-30s, getting later built Aircraft may have seen the RAAF end up with a Sub Fleet of 2 Aircraft
 

Takao

The Bunker Group
The KC-30 is seemingly a relatively young platform and one that is well regarded globally.
I'm puzzled as to 11 billion for its replacement.
Is it timing / need / new emerging technologies.

I was surprised that the additional two for a total of nine were not taken up as the KC-30 seemed to tick a lot of boxes for the RAAF.

Can some one "Please explain"

confused

Regards S
Well, it first flew 14 years ago. The replacement project doesn't start until ~2032 and the first couple of years will be determining needs and options. So at the very earliest, you can expect the first KC-30A to leave service around 2037 at the very earliest. That's a 25-30 year life span, which isn't too shabby (and frankly something we should actually be considering for everything as realistic).

It's replacement cost is because it is for a bigger fleet of crewed and/or uncrewed platforms. Each costs about $350 - 500 m now, that's $500 - 800 m in 2032 dollars and we want somewhere between 16 - 20? Straight up that's $10 - 14 b for airframes, without all the other 'stuff' you need to buy. There's also going to be a bunch of new tech in it. A KC-30A costs an enormous amount, much more than I was expecting.

The KC-30A is a brilliant airframe, very useful. There were complications in value for money, timing, other priorities and availability. There were a bunch of aspects that went into that decision, most of which can't be publicly detailed. Like many important assets, it just so happened that there were more important things in those years.
 

hauritz

Well-Known Member
The KC-30 is seemingly a relatively young platform and one that is well regarded globally.
I'm puzzled as to 11 billion for its replacement.
Is it timing / need / new emerging technologies.

I was surprised that the additional two for a total of nine were not taken up as the KC-30 seemed to tick a lot of boxes for the RAAF.

Can some one "Please explain"

confused

Regards S
If I had to guess I would say that it is an indication of how much more important air refuelling will be in the coming decades. If Australia is to have some sort of long range manned strike capability in the 2030s it will need to rely on aerial refuelling. The KC-30As are indeed brilliant aircraft but they are also big an bulky and not necessarily something you would want to send deep into hostile airspace. Manned tankers would still have a role to play, but I suspect that along with teamed loyal wingman aircraft any future manned strike package might also like to be accompanied by smaller stealthier unmanned refuelers.

I was also a little surprised that the option for additional KC-30As wasn't taken up, given that the replacement program for these aircraft is still around 15 years away.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Future tankers will require stealth assuming fast jets don’t have significant range improvements. Perhaps a future tanker aircraft will be derived from a future stealth transport jet as the C-17 will require replacement in 20 years.
 

vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
Out of the box thought but in regards to increasing ranges of air to air missiles and the threat they could pose to our enablers is it at all feasible to modify the nulka to work on such aircraft? I doubt it but just struck me so am curious.
 

Bob53

Active Member
Future tankers will require stealth assuming fast jets don’t have significant range improvements. Perhaps a future tanker aircraft will be derived from a future stealth transport jet as the C-17 will require replacement in 20 years.
It’s sounding like a gold plated solution.

Stealth tankers for Stealth planes.

My dough would go to bigger strike/fighter planes to deliver longer range missiles. A large stealth tanker is in the same realm as as stealth bomber…. I can’t see any real difference in development, build and support costs. It’s not as if a non stealth tanker is exactly cheap. So would stealth 2X costs?

it’s one thing having a stealth tanker running off a carrier because the fighters are small and don’t have range but another thing all together to build a stealth tanker big enough to fly across a large swath of Australia and potentially thousands of KMs offshore.

It would be far more cost effective and a less complex system to spend that coin on the fighters and longer range missiles and have non stealth tankers for top up well out side of contested airspace.

Or even a loyal wingman large enough to have 3-4000 km range carrying 1000km range missiles.
 

south

Well-Known Member
Out of the box thought but in regards to increasing ranges of air to air missiles and the threat they could pose to our enablers is it at all feasible to modify the nulka to work on such aircraft? I doubt it but just struck me so am curious.
There are other ways to complicate adversary targeting.Towed Radar Decoys, Self Protection Jammers, Expendable Active Decoys, DIRCM, along with old school chaff and flares all play a part.

or keep the high value asset out of harms way, but that is becoming increasingly difficult.
 

Boagrius

Well-Known Member
Is it just me or does AAR seem like an inherently unstealthy process? Like, would it even be possible to achieve a useful amount of signature reduction in a platform that has to deploy a massive boom or a set of hose/drogue kits to do its job? I get the idea of sig reduction in the MQ-25 operating near a carrier, but a larger dedicated platform closer to the FEBA? Seems iffy...
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Depends on the definition of long range I suppose. A fighter with a 1000 nm range carrying a missile that has a 1000 nm range would be an improvement but how many missiles with this capability could it carry and how big would the warhead be? Just as importantly, what the unit cost? Then there is the improved long range multirole fighter cost. F-35s being refuelled by a new stealth tanker carrying less expensive shorter range missiles may be less costly. Also, a new stealth hybrid tanker/transport addresses the future C-17 replacement (assuming air transport of troops and material into a war zone is possible with the likely advance of missile technology 15-25 years from now).
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Is it just me or does AAR seem like an inherently unstealthy process? Like, would it even be possible to achieve a useful amount of signature reduction in a platform that has to deploy a massive boom or a set of hose/drogue kits to do its job? I get the idea of sig reduction in the MQ-25 operating near a carrier, but a larger dedicated platform closer to the FEBA? Seems iffy...
If booms can’t be made to be stealthy then there is no point in building a stealth refueller. Probably some on going research to see if this is possible. If not then it is long range fighters or perhaps a B-21 “Lite”.
 

Stampede

Well-Known Member
Thanks all for the feed back

Aerial refueling certainly has a future.
We'll see what form it takes down the road.
For today we has seven very capable aircraft which is a good thing.

Cheers


Regards S
 

t68

Well-Known Member
Has any attempt ever been made in purchasing some Westernised AN124's from the Ukraine?

I remember some time ago there was a discussion about bring the AN-124 to western standards, cannot remember the outcome hit the search function might bring it up

post script

No. The AN124 Ruslan has capacity of around 100 tonnes from memory and none are for sale. The current airframes are high in flight hours. Antonov are investigating a new variant with western avionics and engines or western avionics and Ukrainian engines. Even if some were available we couldn't justify the expense of acquisition and sustainment. To much aircraft for our needs.
not heard of the outcome from above
 
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