Maneuverability Makes the Difference

by Bill Barksdale

The Boeing Company

While the KC-135 Stratotankers have performed well in their expeditionary role, the Air Force has raised the bar for the new KC-X tanker aircraft. The new tankers will need to fly in and out of war zones as well as land and deploy from austere forward operating bases.

In order to meet these new expectations, the KC-X tankers must be eminently maneuverable – in the air and on the ground, able to take evasive action from ground and airborne threats, perform emergency breakaway maneuvers while refueling, and operate in tight spots on the ground.

It’s a little like asking a fully loaded semi-truck to handle like a sports car. But in a war zone, tanker crews will need these capabilities to stay safe and complete their missions.

Boeing’s NewGen Tanker is up to the challenge.

In the NewGen Tanker, the pilot always has final control over the aircraft. Unlike the Airbus A330, whose computer laws limit the aircraft’s bank angles, pitch angles, and roll rate, the 767-based NewGen Tanker allows the pilot access to the full flight envelope.

Based on publicly available information, we believe that the NewGen Tanker can execute a roll three times faster than our competitor. When the need to take evasive action occurs, that capability could mean everything for tanker crews.

The NewGen Tanker is also more maneuverable in refueling operations. It may very well be the only aircraft capable of refueling all Air Force aircraft, including Special Operations aircraft and the V-22 Osprey.

On the ground, the NewGen Tanker handles just as well. Its flexible size enables the NewGen Tanker to take off and land at more austere, forward operating airbases that have shorter runways, weaker pavement, and narrow taxiways. It even has a smaller turn radius than a KC-135 and can safely execute a 180-degree turn on a 150’ wide runway, offering greater operational flexibility around the world.

The NewGen Tanker’s wide-body capability in a narrow-body footprint allows commanders to park nearly twice the number of NewGen Tankers as A330’s on crowded airfields, enabling them to station more tankers closer to the fight – closer to the aircraft they’ll be serving. That means more “booms in the air,” covering more refueling orbits, delivering more fuel to more receiver aircraft, and burning less fuel in the process by eliminating long trips to distant bases where larger tankers like the proposed A330 tanker would be forced to bed down.

The Boeing NewGen is made for the full spectrum of mobility operations.

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