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Posted: 9/20/2004 9:58:21 AM EST
Defense Today September 16, 2004
Sambur Seeks New Tankers As 30 Old Tankers Grounded
By Dave Ahearn

The Air Force must press forward smartly to acquire new aerial refueling tankers, the top Air Force acquisitions chief said, noting that 30 aging tankers were grounded recently for flight safety concerns.

Tanker planes are vitally needed for refueling fighters and other aircraft, Marvin Sambur, assistant Air Force secretary for acquisition, said, and the existing tanker fleet includes planes that are a creaky 45 years old.

His comments come as several investigations are underway into a controversial Air Force plan to buy 80 and lease 20 KC-767 tanker aircraft from the Boeing Co.

Sambur said at this point he can't predict whether—after the probes are completed—the Air Force will press ahead with the Boeing tanker deal, or whether the tanker acquisition program will be re-opened to bids. That would provide an opening for Boeing competitors Airbus, a division of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., and Lockheed Martin Corp. to offer tankers to the Pentagon.

He said he expects a decision on the tankers in February or March.

Whatever course the Air Force ultimately takes, however, Sambur said there is no time for dithering. A decision is needed, and soon, he asserted.

It isn't just that many of the old planes suffer corrosion, Sambur added. It's that with ancient aircraft, there is a multiplicity of problems that must be dealt with, one after another.

The Air Force can't afford to wait until all the tankers are grounded, and have the military services suddenly confronted with a lack of aerial refueling capability, he said.

In 1999, some 30 percent of the tanker fleet was grounded, Sambur recalled, and he doesn't want to wait for an even larger grounding to occur.

The time to order new tanker aircraft is now, before disaster strikes, he said. "If the sky is falling down, it's too late," he explained.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has criticized the Boeing tanker deal, which initially called for leasing 100 tankers. McCain said that would cost $5 billion more than buying the aircraft outright.

He also assailed Boeing for hiring an Air Force procurement aide, Darleen Druyun, with discussions of her job at the contractor coming even as she still was handling negotiations with Boeing on the tankers. Druyun pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy count, and prosecutors also pursued Mike Sears, the Boeing CFO who hired her. As well, Phil Condit, the Boeing CEO at the time, resigned his post.

McCain also disputed Air Force warnings that existing tankers suffered corrosion problems, saying that tankers had better availability for operations than some other types of military aircraft.

But Sambur said corrosion is but one of the problems plaguing the aging tanker fleet.

"We've had these major events" where large numbers of tankers have been grounded, he said.

"Corrosion has never been our argument" for replacing the aerial refueling tanker fleet, he said.

Rather, the need for replacing the tanker fleet stems from the fact that the aircraft are aged and susceptible to myriad problems that can arise without warning, he said. "The prudential thing to do is" to begin moving now to replace tankers, he said.

Sambur likened the situation to the owner of a car with many years and miles on it, which has one expensive problem, followed by another and another.

"When do you finally ask yourself when [it would be intelligent] to start thinking about replacing your car?" he said.

With many tanker planes already 45 years old, the Pentagon shouldn't dawdle so that new tanker aircraft won't be available until the existing fleet is as much as 50 or 60 years old, he said.

Sambur also expressed dismay at congressional criticism of the Air Force for having entered into a lease deal, rather than a purchase plan, for the Boeing planes.

After all, he recalled, the lease arrangement was pursued at the direction of Congress. "We were acting with a congressional" mandate, he said.

Referring to himself and other Air Force procurement policymakers, he said, "We're not the bad guys."


Defense Daily September 16, 2004
Air Mobility Command Takes 29 KC-135Es Off The Flight Line By Lorenzo Cortes

Air Mobility Command has removed 29 KC-135E tanker aircraft from the flying schedule pending review of how to address engine strut problems.

"The commander, Air Mobility Command, Gen. John Handy, has directed 29 KC-135E tanker aircraft with identified engine strut problems be removed from the flying schedule while Air Force leadership evaluates the report of the Fleet Viability Board and recommendations of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center’s KC-135 System Program Office," AMC said yesterday. "This decision is based on flight safety considerations associated with this model of the KC-135. The Fleet Viability Board was tasked in June 2004 by Secretary of the Air Force James Roche to perform an independent, in-depth analysis of a portion of the KC-135E fleet affected by a problem with the engine pylon support struts. The board, a team of experienced aircraft engineers, evaluated 30 aircraft over a two-month period, assessing the engine strut problems and overall health and viability of these aircraft."

AMC also said Gen. Handy was briefed on their draft recommendations Sept. 13. While the Fleet Viability Board’s findings are thoroughly reviewed and evaluated, the aircraft are off the flying schedule. "A decision will be made on further disposition of the affected 29 aircraft sometime after senior Air Force leadership is briefed," AMC also said.

Handy said earlier this year that these aircraft faced a dilemma because new congressional language prevented him from retiring aging E-model aircraft. "About two weeks ago I got the official notification from Air Force Materiel Command that there are 30 of my E-model aircraft that have struts--and ‘struts’ is wing, strut and engines--so it’s the pylon that holds the engine to the airplane, that the struts need significant repairs due to corrosion," Handy told the Defense Writers Group in July. A temporary solution that bonds metal to the pylon would add about five years’ viability to the affected aircraft. Each fix would cost about $400,000 per airplane (Defense Daily, July 30). (back to home)

Link Posted: 9/20/2004 10:00:49 AM EST
how friggin hard could it be to build a boeing as a tanker?
Link Posted: 9/20/2004 10:08:27 AM EST

Originally Posted By druncuncas:
how friggin hard could it be to build a boeing as a tanker?


The C-135 is the military version of the boeing 707, so, not hard at all.
The problem is that the Air Farce had a really lousy replacement plan that fell through.
Link Posted: 9/20/2004 10:47:52 AM EST
When I was in the Air Force they seemed pretty sure the 707 was built from a KC-135, not the other way around. The idea was to build a jet tanker to replace the KC-97.
Link Posted: 9/20/2004 10:51:15 AM EST
First came the 367-80 (Dash 80)
Then came the 707.
Then came the 717 aka C-135.
Link Posted: 9/20/2004 11:05:17 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2004 11:06:37 AM EST by A-36Pilot]
Whatever happened to the plan to replace the 135s, with the 767 airframe?

edited to add:maybe I should read the whole story first!OOPS
Link Posted: 9/20/2004 11:43:29 AM EST
Keep in mind we still have the KC10 and C130 to refuel behind. Its not like the only tanker is grounded. We do need a modern replacement tho. Im thinking the 777 would work fine. Shit, just make a refuel version of the C-17.
Link Posted: 9/20/2004 11:45:21 AM EST
Bring back the KB-66!

(Right, KA3B?)
Link Posted: 9/20/2004 11:46:45 AM EST
Can't fuel an E-6, C-17, AWACS, C-5, J-Stars behind a C-130.....


Originally Posted By CFII:
Keep in mind we still have the KC10 and C130 to refuel behind. Its not like the only tanker is grounded. We do need a modern replacement tho. Im thinking the 777 would work fine. Shit, just make a refuel version of the C-17.

Link Posted: 9/20/2004 11:47:23 AM EST
Never was a KB-66.
It was a poor excuse for an A-3...


Originally Posted By DzlBenz:
Bring back the KB-66!

(Right, KA3B?)

Link Posted: 9/20/2004 12:28:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 9/20/2004 12:41:16 PM EST by tangeant]
KC-135 was before the 707. The Dash 80 was the prototype for the 135 and the early 135 looks Identical to the dash 80. The 707 is about 8 ft longer than the Dash 80/135 and the 707 has a different wing with full leading edge flaps Larger vert Fin ( Early production 135A's had short Dash 80 fin ) and Larger Horiz Stab. The larger 707 Vert fin/ Hor stab ( E,R ) where added / Retrofitted to the 135.



Also there aren't that many E models left , atleast half have been converted to R's already . All are scheduled to be converted to R's except the 55's and some of the early block 56 E models that are getting bonyarded.
Link Posted: 9/20/2004 12:42:24 PM EST
I'll take "BOEING FACTORY HISTORY FROM BOEING" for $200 Alex.

America entered the age of the jet transport on July 15, 1954, when the Boeing 707 prototype, the model 367-80, made its maiden flight from Renton Field, south of Seattle.

Another aircraft type that traces its ancestry to the 707 prototype is the U.S. Air Force KC/C-135 tanker-transport/cargo airplane.

http://www.boeing.com/commercial/707family/


The KC-135's were built before the 707's, but the 707 was not a spin-off nor did it come from the C-135.


Originally Posted By tangeant:
KC-135 was before the 707. The Dash 80 was the prototype for the 135 and the early 135 look Identical to the dash 80. The 707 is about 8 ft longer than the Dash 80/135 and the 707 has a different wing with full leading edge flaps Larger vert Fin and Larger Horiz Stab. The larger Vert fin/ Hor stab ( E,R ) where added / Retrofitted to the 135.

Link Posted: 9/20/2004 12:44:27 PM EST
I can't shake the feeling that McCain is campaigning for SECDEF.

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