Taking Off Light on Fuel, Heavy on Crew

Just as constraints on human endurance make the aircrew a limiting factor in future manned

From Wynne Interview

Increased Attention

Wynne, Rated Pilots Make Sense for UAVs

Wynne, Air Force Best to Oversee Space

Going Head-to-Head

Stealth Duel

Tough Love

Wynne, Rethink Split Tanker Buy

Come Together by Splitting

long-range strike and reconnaissance aircraft, the same could apply to the Air Force’s next tanker platform, says former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne. During an interview on July 28, Wynne said that it may make sense to develop a concept of operations for the new KC-X tanker under which the aircraft takes off with more than one crew and light on fuel. Because the new tanker—regardless of whether it will be a Boeing or Northrop Grumman aircraft (see above)—will have a refueling receptacle, it will be able to receive fuel as well as pass it on. “We could actually leave a tanker in the air … and have beds there and have a 48-hour, 72-hour, [or] one-week mission where we just keep tanking the tanker, and we have two crews that run the airplane,” Wynne said. While one crew is operating the aircraft, the other would be resting in the back of the airplane. When it’s finally time for the tanker to return to base, it would then transfer its excess fuel into the tanker coming up to relieve it, Wynne said. “So tankers will always take off light and land light,” he said. He emphasized, “There’s a difference in operational concept that’s going to be available to us [that] I don’t even think we’ve taken into account yet.”