No. Not the tankers. Those planning the tankers: U.S. mulls possible delay in air tanker -sources
Just when you thought the whole USAF next-generation tanker fiasco couldn’t get any worse, we get this:
Pentagon and U.S. Air Force officials are considering changes to a multibillion-dollar competition for new aerial refueling tankers, including a two-year delay in picking a winning bidder, three sources familiar with the proposal said on Monday.
Two more freaking years before they even select a plane?!? Current plans call for picking a winner next September.
Three sources, who asked not to be identified, said that plan was still an option.
But they said officials were also being briefed on a proposal to fund development work on the refueling tanker by both teams of competitors for several years, which would allow more comprehensive testing and evaluation before a contract award in 2009. [emphasis Murdoc’s]
Ahhh. Two more years of double-funding development work on a plane that was already developed several years ago. Now it’s all starting to make sense.
Murdoc is sure glad there’s not a war on or any increased demand on our current tanker fleet or anything.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Army Eyes USAF Tankers for Network Tech.
What? They couldn’t shoehorn Army networking into the F-22?
Army and Air Force officials are exploring whether they will wield aerial tankers to carry Warfighter Information Network-Tactical payloads in order to free up satellite resources, according to the WIN-T program manager.
“Since they’re flying overhead, in the theater of operation, it would not be a significant burden for them to have a radio that’s providing a relay capability [which] reduces the fuel and maintenance costs of having a separate aircraft in the air just to do comms relay,” Army Col. Angel Colon told Inside the Army Nov. 3.
Although the services are only in the “concept discussion and exchanges level,” Colon said he does not anticipate a redesign to the comms payload. “It would be just a matter of getting the other services to accept that this is a viable payload that they can carry.”
WIN-T, projected to cost about $14.2 billion, is supposed to help the Army tap into enough bandwidth to provide mobile, tactical communications to soldiers and their commanders. WIN-T is key to the Future Combat System because FCS will depend on the network to link its 18 different platforms and all of its associated computer-based applications.
Sarcasm aside, this is probably an idea worth exploring. But when one reads the article one gets the idea that the whole concept is still up in the air.
One issue noted was that the GAO was concerned that the technologies planned for the WIN-T system were “not mature”. Considering that the new tankers might not be flying for many years (or “many years +2”) at the current rate, WIN-T technologies have plenty of time to catch up.