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The ‘problem-plagued’ tanker of the American air force completed testing WARPs with aircraft AV-8B and F-18D/G



The 'problem-plagued' tanker of the American air force completed testing WARPs with aircraft AV-8B and F-18D/G
  • The U.S. Air Force has announced that its brand new issue tanker, Wing Aerial Refueling Pods (WARPs), has recently completed testing with AV-8B and F-18D / G aeroplanes.
  • A latest service news release suggests that one of the key features of the KC-46 Pegasus has recently been successfully tested at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

“With WARP, the KC-46 will be able, in contrast to a centerline drug system, to refuel two fighter aircraft simultaneously, in which one aircraft can only fuel at a time,” said Maj. Jacob Lambach, KC-46 Experimental trial pilot, 418th Flight Test Squadron. “Champion pilots generally appear in pairs and everyone has to watch and wait while their wingman refuels. The combat mission of the fighters is not to sit behind the tanker; it is to fight. If we can refuel both at the same time, they spend just half as much time out of the fight. “Initiators had several data to test after the connections were successfully completed before they were approved by the Aerial Refueling Certification Agency. Engineers will determine the efficiency of WARPs before their potential for combatants; this includes looking at the strength of the free air, the reaction of the tube, the fuel system and the human factors.

“During extension while fully expanding and during retraction, the free air stability of the hose and drugs are assessed to ensure a safe environment for the recipient,” said Nathan Montoya, an aerial refueling engineer at the 418th FLTS. “The receiver handling qualities are measured and any variations between the left and the right WARPs are noted in the tanker wake area. The response of the WARPs shaft reel (how the system slacks the shaft) is evaluated at different contact times and the shaft lengths to ensure there is no excessive slackness that may harmed the recipient. The fuel system is tested to decide whether the fuel pressure and fuel variations supplied to the receiver are suitable. “Therefore, hose markings, warning lights and tanker lights are checked for sufficient visual signs and operator awareness. Such tests are carried out at different altitudes, airspeeds and tanker weights to ensure that the system responds correctly and safely and all relevant alerts, warnings and/or notes for fleet operations are registered.

From a pilot’s point of view, Lambach said not much improvement. Our goal is always to fly the aircraft as smoothly as possible to promote the job of the boom operator and the pilot receiver. Lambach clarified that the disparity between boom air refueling and WARPs for the boom operator and receiver pilot is dramatic.

“The recipient pilot flies to a defined area behind the aircraft, and then the boom operator is accountable for the accurate action that connects the two aircraft,” he said. “With the WARPs, the boom operator deploys and controls the basket but the receiver pilot is responsible for the last act of attaching the aircraft.” The WARPs use the refueling drug chute system, and the receptionist has small corrections to fine-tune the drug basket to the receiver’s probe.

“Hitting a bullseye is tough, when the target moves at the last minute is even harder,” he said.

Mid-air refueling with multiple aircraft poses different challenges for the concerned aircrews, said Montoya.

“Testing with dual WARPs poses the major challenge of maintaining positive communication and situational awareness between test resources at the same time,” said Montoya. “This is a remarkable study, because boom and centerline drug operations power one recipient at a time. “It also posed a logistical challenge to have three aircraft able to operate at the same time,” said Capt. Andrew Novak, KC-46 Experimental Test Pilot, 418th FLTS. Different factors, including manning and availability of crew due to other trials, may influence the frequency of certain flights.

“The biggest change was improved teamwork and scheduling that would allow three aircraft to fly simultaneously,” he said. “We knew already at that point in the test that both aircraft could obtain fuel safely on either WARP. It was only a matter of simultaneously fueling two aircraft. All aircraft was successfully loaded. “Safety is paramount to the 418th and 412th test wing missions as a part of the Air Force Test Center agency.

“In the preplanning process, a greater effort was made to concentrate on how dual WARP testing was carried out to keep the test environment secure and to ensure the right data are collected,” Montoya said.
“It is a pleasure to be part of this experiment and to be able to supply operators with the information needed to make full use of the KC-46 WARP program. The work with all USAF pilots, boom operators and navy pilots and engineers has been a pleasure during all testing.’ Lambach was privileged to support the fighter with the KC-46 tests and to add to the Edwards legacy of the test.

“It is a privilege to be involved in the testing of a warfare system,” Lambach said. “The KC-46 offers a range of unique new skills to combat, but we need to demonstrate all the potential for existing tankers such as theKC-10orKC-135, before we can really profit from them.” A new KC-46A pegasus is connected with aF-15 Strike eagle for an aerial refueling test over California in 2018. The KC-46A is the first step in the recapitalisation of the USA. The Air Force’s aging fleet of tankers. With increased refueling, freight and aeromedical evacuation compared with theKC-135, the KC-46A will support the Air force, the Navy, the Marine Corps and partner nation recipients in the next generation of aerial refueling.

The KC-46A can handle a mixed load, aircraft evacuation and cargo capacity. The KC-46A can be powered by two high-bypass turbofans with gross weights of up to 315 000 pounds. Depending on the fuel storage configuration, the aircraft can carry up to 65,000 pounds of cargo with a palletized load. Up to 18 463L cargo pallets can be transported by the KC-46A. Seat tracks and the onboard cargo handling system allow palletized freight and passenger seats to be carried simultaneously in different combinations. The KC-46A is also equipped with several self-safe, defensive and communications features that make it more resilient in a disputed environment.

It must be noted that a number of problems have arisen with the new KC-46 tanker of the Air Force, including a software crash in the Remote Vision System allowing airmen to observe the refueling systems.

Defense News recently confirmed that Pegasus has not yet been permitted to carry freight or additional staff as cargo locks— locking equipment inside the aircraft — have recently been released during flights.

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