US wants to build ‘invisible’ mothership to fuel its fighter jets
The U.S. Air Force recently announced that it was looking for companies to work on an ‘invisible’ mothership whose first units will see the light of day in 2040.. The vehicles will be used to refuel fighters and bombers in mid-air, something that until now has been done with tankers using standard airframes.
The stealth mothership program is called. NGAS (the acronym stands for Next Generation Aerial Refueling System) and arises in a context of US tensions with China over its conflict with Taiwan and with Russia over the war in Ukraine. The use of ‘invisible’ combat vehicles, such as the new B-21 Raider, the B-2 Spirit or the F-35 Lightning II, requires aircraft that provide them with fuel that are also camouflaged.
To develop the NGAS, the US Army has launched a Request for Information, ie, a request with which they invite aerospace companies to submit proposals.. As reported in Air & Space Forces magazine, the prerequisite will be that these supply aircraft survive in wartime situations.
For some time now, the country’s Air Force had already been shuffling new prototypes of aircraft with integrated fuselage, the wing of which becomes the body of the aircraft. This feature and a design of engine outlets that would reduce the visibility of hot exhaust and coatings that would absorb radar signals. made it difficult for the enemy to observe.
However, Russia and China claim that they have new radars that detect machines similar to those the Pentagon was developing. Against this, the Americans claim that the B-21 materials are undetectable and, with NGAS, this aircraft could have an accompanying supply vehicle.
Possible candidates for NGAS
- Boeing’s X-48 model: is a prototype that the firm is working on to save on fuel and increase cargo capacity on commercial airplanes. In addition, they already have a mothership concept that uses its technology as a basis.
- Lockheed Martin’s KC-Z concept.: an integrated wing fuselage aircraft.
- The manufacturer Northrop Grumman: is the developer of B-2 and B-21 and could design a new model to fuel them.
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