20 Apr 05. George K. Muellner, Senior VP & General manager Air Force Systems for Boeing said that the RFP to be issued in July for the U.S. tanker requirement was key to the 767 line being retained. He said that the U.S. specification would be built around the Italian 767 tanker which is a combi tanker/cargo aircraft with hose and drogue and boom refuelling systems.
He also confirmed that the E-10A Surveillance project to replace the ageing J-STARS aircraft had moved to the left due to budgetary restraints and technology. The first aircraft was being built which could either be No 1 aircraft for the project or a test-bed for the project. E-10A will meet the USAF’s requirements for a multi-sensor aircraft for joint air/land surveillance. The ‘A’ Version would be a Ground Surveillance aircraft to replace the J-STARS whilst the ‘B’ version would be a new joint air/land reconnaissance aircraft taking the system to a start of 2012. In the meantime there would be upgrades to J-STARS and WACS for the U.S., whilst Boeing was also bidding for the French and UK AWACS upgrades.
Asked by the Editor whether the 787 would be used to supplement the 767 airframe for military use, Muellner cautioned that the composite construction of the 787 made it more difficult to accommodate electronic and defence systems due to the first aircraft being built around the mid-sized civil versions with defence versions coming later. He said that the composite structure made it more difficult to mount radar and other systems due to the flexible nature of the airframe, radar systems needed more rigid airframes. There were also RFI issues to accommodate the adequate isolation required for the electronics.
He said the company was working on the blended wing system which could carry greater amounts of fuel and cargo in a container-like structure in the fuselage.
In other news he said that the JTRS Cluster 1 Program, although delayed would be back on track in the next few months after the ‘stop order’ and he expected greater volumes to be ordered. The Army had changed its requirements due to the fitting requirements required for the armoured vehicle fleet The AMF Cluster had slipped to the right as had other Clusters to accommodate the Wide Band Network Waveform to be incorporated in the tactical internet allowing high priority sensor-to-shooter systems. He also said that the FCS overall C4I system Overlay would be rolled into existing Bradley, Stryker and Abrams fleet allowing better usage of these vehicles with the UAV and senor systems for FCS.