KC-10 Tankers, B-1 Bombers Can Slowly Be Retired, Lawmakers Say

Lawmakers are barring the U.S. Air Force from retiring any of its KC-135 Stratotanker refueling aircraft while the service struggles to get the KC-46 Pegasus up and running.

In its markup of the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act legislation, the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee said that the Air Force may not begin retiring any of its 379 Stratotankers until at least 2023. But it may start steady retirements of its KC-10 Extenders over the next three years, as long as it maintains a minimum requirement set by Congress.


3D Printing Can Keep Aging Air Force Aircraft Flying

Glenn House and his colleagues spent more than four years making a new toilet for the B-1 Lancer. The challenge wasn?t fitting the john into the cockpit (it went behind the front left seat), but ensuring that every part could handle life aboard a plane that can pull 5 Gs, break the sound barrier, and spend hours in wildly fluctuating temperatures. The end result didn?t just have to work. It had to work without rattling, leaking, or revealing itself to enemy radar. Getting it okayed for use aboard the bomber was just as complex as making it. ?Getting a part approved can take years,? says House, the cofounder and president of Walpole, Massachusetts-based 2Is Inc.


Plans for Pentagon’s Future Flying Bomb Truck Begin to Take Shape

Defense Department officials may select a bomber already in the Air Force’s inventory to become its munitions-packed “arsenal plane,” Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said Tuesday.

Roper told reporters in Washington, D.C. that the service has a vision for its current bomber fleet, which constitutes turning the bomber force — the B-52 Stratofortress, B-1 Lancer or B-2 Spirit — into “something else” in the future. Hypothetically, a B-52 loaded with multiple hypersonic weapons can evolve from its standard function into a “missileer,” Roper said.

The acquisition chief said the service has been working with the Air Force Global Strike Command on hypersonic weapons tests on the B-52. The Air Force in June flew its first test flight of the AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon, a hypersonic weapon known as ARRW (pronounced “Arrow”).


How the Air Force Transformed the B-1 from a Nuclear Bomber to an ISIS Killer

Huge yet surprisingly sleek and agile, the U.S. Air Force?s B-1 Lancer strategic bombers?popularly dubbed ?Bones? for B-ONE?circles over battlefields in Syria and Afghanistan like angels of death dispensing GPS-guided bombs from on high. Yet the B-1 started out as an over-priced nuclear bomber that was arguably obsolete by the time it entered service. Thus, a bomber designed to dodge Soviet surface-to-air missiles and interceptors found its niche battling Taliban and ISIS insurgents.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the U.S. military sought to push its bombers to ever higher altitudes and faster speeds to protect them from flak guns and fighter planes?pushing new performance envelopes with the pressurized B-29 , and later the B-47 and B-52 Stratofortress strategic jet bombers.