Jumat, 09 Oktober 2015

Merkava 4 Main Battle Tank, Israel

Learning tank warfare the hard way
Since the war of 1956, Isräel learned how to deal against far superior forces with limited resources and astonished the world with its fast, daring tactics and unexpected victories. The country forged in fifty years, with limited foreign assistance, a powerful, modern defence force. The armoured symbol of which is the Merkava, a reference to the ancient war chariots of the days of King Solomon.

Designed soon after the Yom Kippur War (1973), this MBT was derived from a first project named the Sabra, developed in 1965 by Tsahal, the first domestic tank design. But since it was an adaptation of the British Chieftain and the British Government had decided in 1969 to cancel any weapon deliveries to Israël, the project was dropped. Israel Tal, an army commander, reinvigorated the concept after the 1973 October War, and the plans were redrawn, incorporating all the ideas drawn form the lessons of the last engagements. In short, the Merkava was the embodiment of the ideal MBT for Tsahal. Combining speed, endurance, firepower and accuracy with high survivability requirements and an emphasis put on crew protection.

Development history
After the plans were ready by 1974, construction of several prototypes began. All were briefly tested before a stage of complete modifications, performed by the brand new Tel HaShomer ordnance depot, which was specially tailored around the Merkava. The “Merkava” (derived from ancient Hebrew word meaning “chariot”), was also the name of the entire domestic tank project since 1973, and saw nearly a full year of development before a full scale production could be started in 1977. By then, it was made public in May, and the official acceptance into service with Tsahal was ratified in December 1978, when the first series had been delivered. The design, development, and assembly of the Mk.I and subsequent modernized series were performed by MANTAK arsenal along with IDF Ordnance Corps and other contractors. Systems integration, including sights and weaponry, were performed by Israel Military Industries (IMI).

The Merkava design
At first, the Merkava’s most striking aspect was its rearwards turret, a feature more common in SPGs than MBTs. But the positioning of the engine at the front was a deliberate attention to crew protection, as it participates in the frontal defense of the fighting compartment. Second, this compartment was exceptionally roomy, allowing several infantrymen and their equipment to embark. The rear two-hatch door was another originality, allowing fast evacuation by the crew, as well as an APC-style access which was found very useful during the Lebanon campaign. The drive train and suspension was largely inspired by the British Centurion and the tracks were directly derived from it. The diesel engine provided, to a 65 ton vehicle, a good power-to-weight ratio and enough mobility on soft grounds. Many other solutions were borrowed from existing systems, thus allowing it to fulfil two of the initial specifications: cost-effectiveness and easy maintenance and repair on the battlefield. The drive train was made of six road wheels, one rear idler wheel, one front drive sprocket and three return rollers per side. The turret was large but low, narrow and triangular in shape, presenting the absolute minimal surface from the front.

Merkava 4 main battle tank capabilities
The tank is capable of carrying eight infantry soldiers, a command group or three litter patients (stretcher casualties) in addition to the tank crew of commander, loader, gunner and driver. The tank is capable of firing on the move at moving targets and has demonstrated high hit probability in firing against attack helicopters using conventional anti-tank munitions.
Major contractors include: the El Op Electro-Optic Industries subsidiary of Elbit Systems which is responsible for the fire control system; the Israel Defence Force which carries out main construction and system integration and testing; Israel Military Industries for the supply of the main gun, ballistic protection and munitions; Imco Industries for the electrical systems; Urdan Industries for the hull, main turret and castings; and IAI Ramta for protection components.
The main part of the tank production, the construction of the hull and integration of all the systems is carried out in the Israel Defence Force workshop.

Merkava 4 battle tank weaponry
The Merkava 4 has a new all-electric turret developed by Elbit and subsidiary El-Op. Only one hatch is installed in the turret, the commander's hatch.
The improved 120mm smooth-bore gun has been developed by Israel Military Industries.
The new gun is an advanced generation of the gun developed for the Merkava 3. A Vidco thermal shroud on the gun reduces bending of the barrel resulting from environmental and firing conditions. The gun can fire higher power munitions including new 120mm high-penetration projectiles and guided shells.
The loader can select semi-automatically the ammunition type. The tank carries 48 rounds of ammunition each stored in a protective container. An electrically operated revolving magazine contains 10 ready-to-fire rounds.
The range of ammunition includes APFSDS-T M711 (CL 3254), the HEAT-MP-T M325 (CL 3105) and the TPCSDS-T M324 (CL 3139) supplied by the Ammunition Group of Israel Military Industries. The gun is also capable of firing French, German or US 120mm rounds.
The tank is fitted with 7.62mm machine guns and an internally operated 60mm mortar system developed by Soltam Ltd. The mortar can fire explosive and illumination rounds to a range of 2,700m.
The protection suite includes an advanced electromagnetic threat identification and warning system.

El Op fire control
The new fire control system, developed by El Op, includes very advanced features including the capability to acquire and lock onto moving targets, even airborne helicopters, while the tank itself is on the move.
The computer-controlled fire control system includes line-of-sight stabilisation in two axes, a second-generation television sight and automatic thermal target tracker, a laser range finder, an improved thermal night vision system and a dynamic cant angle indicator.
The commander's station is fitted with a stabilised panoramic day and night sight. The integrated operating system includes advanced data communications and battle management. Tadiran developed the Merkava's communications system, the inter communication system and the VRC 120 vehicular transceiver radio with embedded auxiliary receivers

The fighting compartment and turret occupies the rear of the vehicle, with an entrance hatch being provided in the hull rear. As with late production Merkava Mk 3s, the new Mk 4 turret has an elliptical shape to its front and sides with a stowage basket at the rear. In earlier versions of the Merkava there was a roof hatch for the commander (right) and loader (left), but the latest Mk 4 only has a roof hatch for the commander. In the Merkava Mk 4 the ballistic protection is modular and is claimed to provide more effective protection against modern threats involving both protection efficiency and coverage area.Installation of the new 1,500 hp powerpack has allowed for a redesign of the hull of the Merkava Mk 4 that has improved frontal protection. The driver's field of view has also been improved as there is no longer a bulge to the right side of the hull. Merkava IV is fitted with a modular special armour covers the turret. The tank is protected against a range of threats, including air-launched precision-guided missiles and advanced and top-attack anti-tank weapons. Automatic fire detection and suppression has been installed. The underside of the hull has been fitted with additional armour protection against mines. The latest generation of Merkava IV is now equipped with the Trophy active protection system developed by the Isreali Company Rafael. The Trophy is a situational awareness and active protection hard kill system that operates in three major stages: Threat detection and threat tracking followed by hard kill countermeasure (Multiple Explosive Formed Penetrators – MEFP) activation and threat neutralization. The neutralization process takes place only if the threat is about to hit the platform. The Trophy active protection system creates a hemispheric protected zone around the vehicle where incoming threats are intercepted and defeated. The Trophy system is able to intercept any incoming HEAT threat, including RPG rockets at a range of 10 – 30 meters from the protected platform. The Trophy was declared operational by the IDF in August 2009 and is currently in full production. Merkava 4 tanks integrated with Trophy active protection systems are presently being deployed in combat areas along Israel's borders.

The Merkava 4 is powered by a V-12 diesel engine rated at 1,500hp. The engine compartment and one fuel tank are at the front of the tank and two fuel tanks are at the back. The new engine represents a 25% increase in power compared to the 1,200hp powerpack installed on the Merkava 3. The Mk 4 Merkava has six rubber-tyred roadwheels either side with the drive sprocket at the front, idler at the rear and four track-return rollers. Each roadwheel is suspended by a separate helical spring with suspension arms for two roadwheels, each caged in a housing.
The German company MTU manufactures the engine components and the GD 883 engine is manufactured under licensed production by General Dynamics Land Systems in the USA. The engine is transferred to Israel for installation and integration with the automatic transmission and with the engine computer control system. The tank has automatic five-gear transmission rather than four gears as in the Merkava 3. The transmission system is manufactured by Renk. The single position rotary shock absorbers are installed externally.

Merkava 4 is equipped with a modern fire control and sighting system which includes computerized ballistic calculations and compensations, a dual axes stabilized gunner sight and a dual axis stabilized commander panoramic sight, both equipped with an advanced FLIR and TV channels for day and night operation. The Merkava IV is also fitted with Battle Management System (BMS) designed by Elbit Systems' ElOp - the system is providing fast communication networking between the commander and subordinate units, and enables the crew to plan missions, navigate and continuously update their situation awareness. The system also enables Commander's BMC tactical display system as used in the Merkava Mk4recording and debriefing the operation, by utilizing the tank's digital recorder. 

Merkava Mk. IV specifications
Dimensions 7.60 x 3.72 x 2.86 m (24.93 x 12.2 x 9.38 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 65 tons
Crew 4 (driver, commander, gunner, loader) + 6 troops
Propulsion 12-cyl 1500 hp (1120 kW) turbocharged diesel
Suspension Helical Spring
Top Speed road/off-road 64/55 km/h (40/34 mph).
Operational maximum range 500 km at medium speed (310 mi)
Armament                                                                                                                                       120mm (4.7in) SB MG253 with LAHAT ATGM capacity

1xCal.50 (12,7 mm) and 2×7.62mm mod. remote
1x60mm (2.4in ) internal mortar
Armor Classified composite and sloped design
Production Around 500 Mk.IV built as of 2013

Source 1
T-90S Main Battle Tank, Russia

Derived from the T-72, the GPO Uralvagonzavod T-90 main battle tank is the most modern tank in the Russian Army's arsenal. The successor to T-72BM, the T-90 uses the gun and 1G46 gunner sights from T-80U, a new engine, and thermal sights. Protective measures include Kontakt-5 ERA, laser warning receivers, and the SHTORA infrared ATGM jamming system.

Kontakt-5 is a Russian type of third-generation explosive reactive armour. It is the first type of ERA which is effectively able to defeat modern APFSDS rounds. Introduced on the T-80U tank in 1985, Kontakt-5 is made up of "bricks" of explosive sandwiched between two metal plates. The plates are arranged in such a way as to move sideways rapidly when the explosive detonates. This will force an incoming KE-penetrator or shaped charge jet to cut through more armour than the thickness of the plating itself, since "new" plating is constantly fed into the penetrating body. A KE-penetrator will also be subjected to powerful sideways forces, which might be large enough to cut the rod into two or more pieces. This will significantly reduce the penetrating capabilities of the penetrator, since the penetrating force will be dissipated over a larger volume of armour.

By 1992 the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it could no longer afford to manufacture two MBTs in parallel. Since both the "quality" T-80U and the cheaper "quantity" T-72B were each being built at one plant, and each plant was critical to the economy of the city it was in, the Government gave small orders to both. Omsk built five T-80Us and Nizhni Tagil 15 T-72s, and both built more against the hope of winning large export orders. Nizhni Tagil had built a few T-72BMs, T-72Bs upgraded with a third generation add-on Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) called Kontakt-5, which was already in service on the T-80U MBT.

Kontakt-5 has been succeeded by the newer Kaktus type, which is currently only seen on prototype tanks such as the T-80UM2 "Chiorny Oriol" (Black Eagle) tank.

To further improve the T-72's export prospects and its chances of being selected as Russia's sole production MBT, the T-80U's more sophisticated fire control system was also added to produce a vehicle designated T-72BU. Finally, since worldwide news coverage during Desert Storm had firmly established the image of the T-72 as a burning Iraqi tank, the new model was renamed T-90.

The Russian Defense Ministry made a selection of a single MBT in 1995. The fighting in Grozny had been shown around the world and the reputation of Russian tanks suffered. Although many casualties were due to bad tactics and many T-72s were also lost, it was the knocked-out T-80s which made an impression. More had been expected of the "quality" T-80 MBT. This is alleged to have tipped the balance against the T-80 in the selection. The T-80 was already more expensive and its delicate, fuel-hungry turbine engine was still giving problems. In January 1996, Col.-Gen. Aleksandr Galkin, Chief of the Main Armor Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, announced that the T-90 had been selected as the sole Russian MBT.

The T-90 went into low-level production in 1993, based on a prototype designated as the T-88. The T-90 was developed by the Kartsev-Venediktov Design Bureau at the Vagonka Works in Nizhniy Tagil. Initially thought by Western observers to be an entirely new design, the production model is in fact based on the T-72BM, with some added features from the T-80 series. The T-90 features a new generation of armor on its hull and turret. Two variants, the T-90S and T-90E, have been identified as possible export models. Plans called for all earlier models to be replaced with T-90s by the end of 1997, subject to funding availability. By mid-1996 some 107 T-90s had gone into service in the Far Eastern Military District.

Of conventional layout, the T-90 represents a major upgrade to every system in the T-72, including the main gun. The T-90 is an interim solution, pending the introduction of the new Nizhny Tagil MBT which has been delayed due to lack of funding. Produced primarily mainly due to its lower cost, the T-90 will probably remain in low-rate production to keep production lines open until newer designs become available. Several hundred of these tanks have been produced, with various estimates suggesting that between 100 and 300 are in service, primarily in the Far East.

The T-90 retains the low silhouette of the earlier Soviet tanks. The glacis is well sloped, and is covered by second generation ERA bricks and a large transverse rib that extends horizontally across the glacis. The driver sits at the front of the hull and has a single piece hatch cover that opens to the right, in front of which is a single wide-angle observation periscope. Integrated fuel cells and stowage containers give a streamlined appearance to the fenders. The tank has a toothed shovel/dozer blade on the front of the hull beneath the glacis. There are attachment points beneath the blade for the KMT-6 mine-clearing plow.

The low, rounded turret is centered on the hull. The commander's cupola is on the right side of the turret; the gunner's hatch is on the left side. The 125-mm main gun has a four section removable thermal shield. It has two sections in front of, and two sections to the rear of the mid-tube bore evacuator. A 7.62-mm coaxial machine-gun is mounted to the right of the mantlet. The T-90 mounts two infra-red searchlights on either side of the main armament; these are part of the Shtora ATGM defense system. The turret is covered with second generation reactive armor on the frontal arc.

This ERA gives the turret an angled appearance, with the ERA bricks forming a "clam shell" appearance. There are ERA bricks on the turret roof to provide protection from top-attack weapons. There are banks of smoke mortars on either side of the turret. The second generation ERA package, combined with the advanced armor technology, makes the T-90 one of the best protected main battle tanks in the world.

- T-90K: Command version of the T-90 
- T-90E: Export version of T-90 MBT. 
- T-90A: Russian army version with welded turret, V-92S2 engine and ESSA thermal viewer. Sometimes called T-90 Vladimir.
- T-90S: Export version of T-90A. 
- T-90SK: Command version of the T-90S. It differs in radio and navigation equipment and Ainet remote-detonation system for HEF rounds.
- T-90S "Bhishma": modified T-90S in Indian service. 
- T-90M: Prototype version featuring new explosive reactive armour (ERA) , new 1,250 PS (920 kW) engine, new improved turret and composite armor, new gun, new thermal imaging Catherine-FC from THALES, an enhanced environmental control system supplied by Israel’s Kinetics Ltd for providing cooled air to the fighting compartment, integrated tactical system, satellite navigation and others.

T-90S main battle tank orders and deliveries

The first of these was delivered in January 2004. The locally assembled tanks are christened 'Bhishma'. The tanks are fitted with the Shtora self-protection system and Catherine thermal imagers from Thales of France and Peleng of Belarus. The first ten Bhishma tanks were inducted into the Indian Army in August 2009. India plans to induce 1,640 T-90 tanks by 2020.
In January 2005, it was announced that a further 91 T-90S tanks would be procured for the Russian Army, although this number was later reduced.
By November 2007, it has been estimated that the Russian Army has around 200 T-90 tanks. In August 2007, Thales was awarded a contract to supply 100 of these with the Catherine FC thermal imager. In March 2006, Algeria signed a contract for the supply of 180 T-90S tanks from Uralvagonzavod, to be delivered by 2011. Of the total, 102 tanks were in service with the Algerian Army by 2008.
In November 2006, India ordered a further 330 T-90 tanks, to be licence-built by heavy vehicle factory (HVF), Avadi, Tamil Nadu.
In January 2009, the Greek Cypriot Government approved the purchase of 41 T-90 tanks from Russia. In March 2010, however, the government changed its plans and opted for T-80 tanks against the T-90s. Saudi Arabia placed a $2bn order for helicopters and 150 T-90S MBTs in September 2009. In the same year, Turkmenistan ordered 10 T-90S tanks under a $30m contract.


The T-90S armament includes one 125mm 2A46M smoothbore gun, stabilized in two axes and fitted with a thermal sleeve. The gun tube can be replaced without dismantling inside the turret. The gun can fire a variety of ammunition including APDS (Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot), HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank), HE-FRAG (High Explosive Fragmentation) as well as, the APERS (anti-personnel) ammunition, consisting of shrapnel projectiles with time fuzes. By far the most widely used APERS round is a multi-purpose HE/HE-FRAG/FRAG fin-stabilized round. Its versatility has been lately further increased by introduction of a time-fusing system, Ainet. Other APERS rounds include shrapnel and incendiary, but these are a lot less common.

The 2A46 and 2A46M lines of mainguns (internal designations D-81T, D-81TM) were developed by the Spetstekhnika design bureau in Ekaterinburg (former Sverdlovsk), and are manufactured at the Motovilikha artillery plant in Perm.

The T-90S gun can also fire the 9M119Refleks (NATO designation AT-11 Sniper), or the 9M119M Refleks (NATO designation AT-11 Sniper-B) anti-tank guided missile system. The 9M119 missile comes in two variants: the 9K120 Svir, which is fired by the T-72B, T-72S, and 2A45M antitank gun; and the Refleks, which is fired by the T-80B, T-80U, and T-90 main battle tank. The Refleks round is 4 kg heavier and has a 5,000 meter maximum range, whereas the Svir has a 4,000 meter maximum range. The range of the missile is 100m to 4,000m and takes 11.7 sec to reach maximum range. The system is intended to engage tanks fitted with ERA (Explosive Reactive Armour) as well as low-flying air targets such as helicopters, at a range of up to 5km. The missile system fires either the 9M119 or 9M119M missiles which have semi-automatic laser beam riding guidance and a hollow charge warhead. Missile weight is 23.4kg. The gun's automatic loader will feed both ordnance and missiles. Due to high cost of the system, usually only elite regiments shall have those missiles in a loadout.

The Refleks 9M119 AT-11 SNIPER laser-guided missile with a hollow-charge warhead is effective against both armored targets and low-flying helicopters. The missile, which can penetrate 700-mm of RHAe out to 5,000 meters, gives the T-90S the ability to engage other vehicles and helicopters before they can engage the T-90S. The computerized fire control system and laser range-finder, coupled with the new Agave gunner's thermal sight, permit the T-90S to engage targets while on the move and at night. However, this first generation system is probably not as capable as current Western counterpart systems. The tank is fitted with precision laying equipment and an automatic loader to guarantee a high rate of gun fire.

Also fitted is a coaxial 7.62mm PKT machine gun and a 12.7mm air defense machine gun. A 5.45mm AKS-74 assault rifle is carried on a storage rack.

Fire Control:

The T-90S has the 1A4GT integrated fire control system (IFCS) which is automatic but with manual override for the commander. The IFCS contains the gunner's 1A43 day fire control system, gunner's TO1-KO1 thermal imaging sight which has a target identification range of 1.2km to 1.5km and commander's PNK-S sight.

The gunner's 1A43 day FCS comprises: 1G46 day sight/rangefinder with missile guidance channel, 2E42-4 armament stabilizer, 1V528 ballistic computer and DVE-BS wind gauge.

The commander's PNK-4S sight includes a TKN-4S (Agat-S) day/night sight which has identification ranges of 800m (day) and 700m (night). The driver is equipped with a TVN-5 infrared night viewer.


The T-90 features the high level of protection against conventional weapons (different types of projectiles, anti-tank guided weapons, mines, shell fragments, bullets, etc). For better protection against anti-tank weapons, the T-90 main battle tank embodies passive and active protection features, classic armour and integrated explosive reactive armour ERA kits. The T-90 is fitted with three levels protection systems. The first level is the composite armour in the turret, consisting of basic armour shell with an insert of alternating layers of aluminium and plastics and a controlled deformation section. The second level is the third generation of explosive reactive armour Kontakt-5 ERA fitted on the front and side of the hull, and the turret. The third level is the Shtora-1 countermeasures suite. The T-90 is protected against weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear. Probability of hitting a land mine by the vehicle's bottom and tracks is minimum, because the mine sweeping gear is attached to the hull at the front. There are four removable spring-loaded skirt plates fitted over the forward part of the track, which are unclipped in action and spring forward at an angle of 60º from the side of the vehicle, to give a measure of protection against HEAT projectiles.


The T-90S has a liquid-cooled V-84MS 618kW (840hp) four-stroke V-12 piston engine. This engine can be fuelled by T-2 or TS-1 kerosene and A-72 benzine, in addition to diesel. The tank can carry up to 1,600 litres of fuel in the main fuel tanks and fuel drums. The fuel tanks are reinforced with armour plating.
The tank is provided with a snorkel for deep fording and can ford 5m of water with equipment which can be deployed in 20 minutes.
The mechanical transmission includes primary reduction gear, two planetary final gearboxes and two planetary final drives. The running gear features torsion bar suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers at one, two and six road wheel stations and tracks with rubber-metallic pin hinges.


The T-90 was the first main battle tank to be equipped with an optoelectronic countermeasures system Shtora-1, which reduces the probability of the tank to be hit by semi-automatic laser-guided anti-tank weapons. The system also jams the enemy’s laser guidance and laser range-finding systems operating on similar physical principles. The system comprises an optoelectronic countermeasures station and a screen setting sub-system. Standard equipment includes NBC protection, fire detection and suppression system, nose-mounted dozer blade and a deep fording kit. To increase the operational range of the T-90, two diesel fuel drums can be carried under the hull rear. Mine clearing equipment of the KMT-7 or KMT-8 type can be mounted at the front of the hull. The standard equipment of T-90 also includes nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection system. The T-90 can be fitted with a snorkel for deep fording. It takes the crew 20 minutes to prepare the T-90 for fording a water barrier with a depth of up to 5m.

Source  : 1.

Kamis, 08 Oktober 2015

Gerald R Ford Class (CVN 78/79) – US Navy CVN 21 Future Carrier Programme, United States of America

In January 2007, the US Navy announced that the new class would be called the Gerald R Ford Class.
Gerald R. Ford class (or Ford class, previously known as CVN-21 class) is a class of supercarriers currently being built to replace some of the United States Navy's existing Nimitz-class carriers beginning in 2016 when CVN-78 is delivered to the U.S. Navy. The new vessels will have a hull similar to the Nimitz carriers, but will introduce technologies developed since the initial design of the previous class (such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System), as well as other design features intended to improve efficiency and operating costs, including reduced crew requirement. The first ship of the class, USS Gerald R. Ford, has hull number CVN-78.
USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) and USS John F Kennedy (CVN 79)
The first two ships, USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) and USS John F Kennedy (CVN 79), will be commissioned in 2016 and 2020 respectively, and further ships of the class will enter service at intervals of five years. A total of ten Ford-class carriers are planned with construction continuing to 2058.
The CVN 78 will replace USS Enterprise (CVN 65), which entered service in 1961 and will approach the end of its operational life by 2015. The total acquisition cost of the CVN 21 is expected to be $13.7bn.
The US Department of Defense awarded Northrop Grumman Newport News in Virginia a $107.6m contract in July 2003, a $1.39bn contract in May 2004 and $559m to prepare for the carrier construction and continue the design programme on the ship's propulsion system.
The CVN 78's first steel was cut in August 2005. A $5.1bn contract for the detailed design and construction was awarded to Newport News in September 2008. The keel was laid in November 2009.
The CVN 78 aircraft carrier was installed with four 30t bronze propellers in October 2013. Both the launch and first voyage of the ship took place in November 2013. Anchor testing aboard the carrier was completed in June 2014, while the US Navy conducted EMALS testing on CVN 78 in May 2015.
Northrop Grumman was awarded a planning and design contract for the second carrier, CVN 79, in November 2006. In May 2011, the US Navy announced that the carrier will be called John F Kennedy.
Construction of the USS John F Kennedy (CVN 79) began in February 2011 and is expected for completion in 2020.
Newport News was awarded a $407m contract extension for the preparation work on the CVN 79 ship in March 2013 and a $1.29bn contract extension in March 2014. It further received a $3.35bn contract for the ship's detailed design and construction in June 2015.
CVN 21 future aircraft carrier design
The Gerald R Ford class carriers will have the same displacement, about 100,000t, as its predecessor, the Nimitz-class George HW Bush (CVN 77), but will have between 500 and 900 fewer crew members.
The manpower reduction was a key performance parameter added to the original four outlined in 2000 in the operational requirements document for the CVN 21 programme. It is estimated that the new carrier technologies will lead to a 30% reduction in maintenance requirements and a further crew workload reduction will be achieved through higher levels of automation.
The other main differences in operational performance compared with the Nimitz-class are increased sortie rates at 160 sorties a day (compared with 140 a day), a weight and stability allowance over the 50-year operational service life of the ship, and increased (by approximately 150%) electrical power generation and distribution to sustain the ship's advanced technology systems. Another key performance requirement is interoperability.

CVN 21 aircraft carrier hull
Since the 1960s, all US Navy aircraft carriers have been built at Northrop Grumman Newport News. Northrop has extended its design and shipbuilding facilities with a new heavy plate workshop and burners, a new 5,000t thick plate press, covered assembly facilities and a new 1,050t-capacity crane.
Northrop is using a suite of computer-aided design (CAD) tools for the CVN 21 programme, including a CATIA software suite for simulation of the production processes and a CAVE virtual environment package.
The hull design is similar to that of the current Nimitz Class carriers and with the same number of decks. The island is smaller and moved further towards the aft of the ship.
The island has a composite mast with planar array radars, a volume search radar operating at S band and a multifunction radar at X band, and also carries the stern-facing joint precision approach and landing system (JPALS), which is based on local area differential global positioning system (GPS), rather than radar.
The aircraft carrier traditionally carries the flag officer and 70 staff of the carrier battle group. The flag bridge, which was previously accommodated in the carrier's island, was relocated to a lower deck in order to minimise the size of the island.
The ship's internal configuration and flight deck designs have significantly changed. The lower decks incorporate a flexible rapidly reconfigurable layout allowing different layouts and installation of new equipment in command, planning and administration areas.
The requirement to build in a weight and stability allowance will accommodate the added weight of new systems that will be installed over the 50-year operational life of the ship. The removal of one aircraft elevator unit and reducing the number of hangar bays from three to two have contributed to a weight reduction of the CVN 21.
Power generation
The new reactor for the CVN 21 class overcomes many of the shortfalls of the Nimitz-class reactor and is an enabler for many of the other technologies and improvements planned for the new class. Two Bechtel A1B nuclear reactors will be installed on each Ford-class carrier, with each A1B reactor capable of producing 300 MW of electricity, compared to the 100 MW of each Nimitz-class reactor.
The propulsion and power plant of the Nimitz-class carriers was designed in the 1960s. Technological capabilities of that time did not require the same quantity of electrical power that modern technologies do. "New technologies added to the Nimitz-class ships have generated increased demands for electricity; the current base load leaves little margin to meet expanding demands for power." Increasing the capability of the U.S. Navy to improve the technological level of the carrier fleet required a larger capacity power system.
Compared to the Nimitz-class reactor, the CVN 21 reactor will have approximately 50 percent fewer valves, piping, major pumps, condensers, and generators. The steam-generating system will use fewer than 200 valves and only 8 pipe sizes. These improvements lead to simpler construction, reduced maintenance, and lower manpower requirements as well as to a more compact system that requires less space in the ship. The new A1B reactor plant is a smaller, more efficient design that provides approximately three times the electrical power of the Nimitz-class A4W reactor plant. The modernization of the plant led to a higher core energy density, lower demands for pumping power, a simpler construction, and the use of modern electronic controls and displays. These changes resulted in a two-thirds reduction of watch standing requirements and a significant decrease of required maintenance.
A larger power output is a major component to the integrated warfare system. Engineers took extra steps to ensure that integrating unforeseen technological advances onto a Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier would be possible. The U.S. Navy projects that the Gerald R. Ford class will be an integral component of the fleet for ninety years into the future (the year 2105). One lesson learned from that is that for a ship design to be successful over the course of a century, a great deal of foresight and flexibility is required. Integrating new technologies with the Nimitz class is becoming more difficult to do without any negative consequences. To bring the Gerald R. Ford class into dominance during the next century of naval warfare requires that the class be capable of seamlessly upgrading to more advanced systems.

Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System
Main article: Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System
The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers use steam-powered catapults to launch aircraft. Steam catapults were developed in the 1950s and have been exceptionally reliable. For over fifty years at least one of the four catapults has been able to launch an aircraft 99.5% of the time.However, there are a number of drawbacks. "The foremost deficiency is that the catapult operates without feedback control. With no feedback, there often occurs large transients in tow force that can damage or reduce the life of the airframe." The steam system is massive, inefficient (4–6%), and hard to control.
Control problems with steam-powered aircraft launch systems on Nimitz-class carriers result in minimum and maximum weight limits. The minimum weight limit on steam-powered catapults is above the weight of all UAVs which represents a substantial shortfall in capability (an inability to launch the latest additions to the Naval air forces is a restriction on naval operations that cannot continue into the next generation of aircraft carriers).
The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is more efficient, smaller, lighter, more powerful, and easier to control. Increased control means that EMALS will be able to launch both heavier and lighter aircraft than the steam catapult. Also, the use of a controlled force will reduce the stress on airframes, resulting in less maintenance and a longer lifetime for the airframe. The power limitations for the Nimitz class make the installation of the recently developed EMALS impossible.
In June 2014, the Navy completed EMALS prototype testing of 450 manned aircraft launches involving every fixed-wing carrier-borne aircraft type in the USN inventory at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst during two Aircraft Compatibility Testing (ACT) campaigns. ACT Phase 1 concluded in late 2011 following 134 launches (aircraft types comprising the F/A-18E Super Hornet, T-45C Goshawk, C-2A Greyhound, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, and F-35C Lightning II). On completion of ACT 1, the EMALS demonstrator was reconfigured to be more representative of the actual ship configuration on board Ford, which will use four catapults sharing several energy storage and power conversion subsystems.
ACT Phase 2 began on 25 June 2013 and concluded on 6 April 2014 after a further 310 launches (including launches of the EA-18G Growler and F/A-18C Hornet, as well as another round of testing with aircraft types previously launched during Phase 1). In Phase 2 various carrier situations were simulated, including off-centre launches and planned system faults, to demonstrate that aircraft could meet end-speed and validate launch-critical reliability.EMALS was tested in June 2015.

Advanced Arresting Gear landing system
Electromagnetics will also be used in the new Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) system. The current system relies on hydraulics to slow and stop a landing aircraft. While the hydraulic system is effective, as demonstrated by more than fifty years of implementation, the AAG system offers a number of improvements. The current system is unable to capture UAVs without damaging them due to extreme stresses on the airframe. UAVs do not have the necessary mass to drive the large hydraulic piston used to trap heavier manned planes. By using electromagnetics the energy absorption is controlled by a turbo-electric engine. This makes the trap smoother and reduces shock on airframes. Even though the system will look the same from the flight deck as its predecessor, it will be more flexible, safe, and reliable, and will require less maintenance and manning.

Sensors and self-defense systems
Another addition to the Gerald R. Ford class is an integrated Active electronically scanned array search and tracking radar system. The dual-band radar (DBR) was being developed for both the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers and the Ford-class aircraft carriers by Raytheon. The island can be kept smaller by replacing six to ten radar antennas with a single six-faced radar. The DBR works by combining the X band AN/SPY-3 multifunction radar with the S band Volume Search Radar (VSR) emitters, distributed into three phased arrays. The S-band radar was later deleted from the Zumwalt class destroyers as a cost saving measure.
The three faces dedicated to the X-band radar are responsible for low altitude tracking and radar illumination, while the other three faces dedicated to the S-band are responsible for target search and tracking regardless of weather. "Operating simultaneously over two electromagnetic frequency ranges, the DBR marks the first time this functionality has been achieved using two frequencies coordinated by a single resource manager."
This new system has no moving parts, therefore minimizing maintenance and manning requirements for operation. The carrier will be armed with the Raytheon evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM), which defends against high-speed, highly maneuverable anti-ship missiles. The close-in weapon system is the rolling airframe missile (RAM) from Raytheon and Ramsys GmbH.
The AN/SPY-3 consists of three active arrays and the Receiver/Exciter (REX) cabinets abovedecks and the Signal and Data Processor (SDP) subsystem below-decks. The VSR has a similar architecture, with the beamforming and narrowband down-conversion functionality occurring in two additional cabinets per array. A central controller (the resource manager) resides in the Data Processor (DP). The DBR is the first radar system that uses a central controller and two active-array radars operating at different frequencies. The DBR gets its power from the Common Array Power System (CAPS), which comprises Power Conversion Units (PCUs) and Power Distribution Units (PDUs). The DBR is cooled via a closed-loop cooling system called the Common Array Cooling System (CACS).
The REX consists of a digital and an analog portion. The digital portion of the REX provides system-level timing and control. The analog portion contains the exciter and the receiver. The exciter is a low-amplitude and phase noise system that uses direct frequency synthesis. The radar’s noise characteristics support the high clutter cancellation requirements required in the broad range of maritime operating environments that DBR will likely encounter. The direct frequency synthesis allows a wide range of pulse repetition frequencies, pulse widths, and modulation schemes to be created.
The receiver has high dynamic range to support high clutter levels caused by close returns from range-ambiguous Doppler effect waveforms. The receiver has both narrowband and wideband channels, as well as multichannel capabilities to support monopulse radar processing and sidelobe blanking. The receiver generates digital data and sends the data to the signal processors.
The DBR uses IBM commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) supercomputers to provide control and signal processing. DBR is the first radar system to use COTS systems to perform the signal processing. Using COTS systems reduces development costs and increases system reliability and maintainability.
The high-performance COTS servers perform signal analysis using radar and digital signal processing techniques, including channel equalization, clutter filtering, Doppler processing, impulse editing, and implementation of a variety of advanced electronic protect algorithms. The IBM supercomputers are installed in cabinets that provide shock and vibration isolation. The DP contains the resource manager, the tracker, and the command and control processor, which processes commands from the combat system.
The DBR utilizes a multitier, dual-band tracker, which consists of a local X band tracker, a local S band tracker, and a central tracker. The central tracker merges the local tracker data together and directs the individual-band trackers’ updates. The X band tracker is optimized for low latency to support its mission of providing defense against fast, low-flying missiles, while the VSR tracker is optimized for throughput due to the large-volume search area coverage requirements.
The combat system develops doctrine-based response recommendations based on the current tactical situation and sends the recommendations to the DBR. The combat system also has control of which modes the radar will perform. Unlike previous-generation radars, the DBR does not require an operator and has no manned display consoles. The system uses information about the current environment and doctrine from the combat system to make automated decisions, not only reducing reaction times, but also reducing the risks associated with human error. The only human interaction is for maintenance and repair activities.
Possible upgrades
Each new technology and design feature integrated into the Ford-class aircraft carrier improves sortie generation, manning requirements, and operational capabilities. New defense systems, such as free-electron laser directed-energy weapons, dynamic armor, and tracking systems will require more power. "Only half of the electrical power-generation capability on CVN-78 is needed to run currently planned systems, including EMALS. CVN-78 will thus have the power reserves that the Nimitz class lacks to run lasers and dynamic armor." The addition of new technologies, power systems, design layout, and better control systems results in an increased sortie rate of 25% over the Nimitz-class and a 25% reduction in manpower required to operate.
Breakthrough waste management technology will be deployed on Gerald R Ford. Co-developed with the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, PyroGenesis Canada Inc., was in 2008 awarded the contract to outfit the ship with a Plasma Arc Waste Destruction System (PAWDS). This compact system will treat all combustible solid waste generated on board the ship. After having completed factory acceptance testing in Montreal, the system was scheduled to be shipped to the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in late 2011 for installation on the carrier.
The Navy is actively developing a weapon system called the free-electron laser (FEL) to address the cruise missile threat and the swarm-boat threat against Ford-class carriers. An FEL uses an electron gun to generate a stream of electrons. The electrons are then sent into a linear particle accelerator to accelerate them to near light speeds. The accelerated electrons are then sent into a device, known informally as a wiggler, that exposes the electrons to a transverse magnetic field, which causes the electrons to “wiggle” from side to side and release some of their energy in the form of light (photons). The photons are then bounced between mirrors and emitted as a coherent beam of laser light. To increase the efficiency of the system, some of the electrons are then cycled back to the front of the particle accelerator via an energy recovery loop. The cost to fire one round from an FEL is about $1 and consumes about 10 MW of electricity.
3D computer-aided design
Newport News Shipbuilding used a full-scale three-dimensional product model developed in Dassault Systèmes CATIA V5 release 8 (which includes special features useful to shipbuilders) to design and plan the construction of the Ford class of aircraft carriers. This enables engineers and designers to test visual integration in design, engineering, planning and construction of components and subsystems. CVN-78 is the first aircraft carrier to be designed in a full-scale 3D product model. This modeling enabled the rooms within the ship to be modular, so that future upgrades can be implemented by designers simply by swapping a box in and locking it down.
This method of designing workflow also resulted in improvements to weapon handling procedures and an increase in potential sorties-per-day. Weapons-handling paths on Nimitz-class ships were designed for the potential nuclear missions of the Cold War. The current flow of weapons from storage areas in the interior of the Nimitz-class ship to loading on aircraft involves several horizontal and vertical movements to various staging and build-up locations within the ship. These movements around the ship are time-consuming and manpower-intensive and typically involve sailors manually moving weapons loaded on carts. Also, the current locations of some of the Nimitz-class weapons elevators conflict with the flow of aircraft on the flight deck, slowing down the generation of sorties or making some elevators unusable during flight operations.
The CVN 21 class was designed to have better weapons movement paths, largely eliminating horizontal movements within the ship. Current plans call for advanced weapons elevators to move from storage areas to dedicated weapons-handling areas. Sailors would use motorized carts to move the weapons from storage to the elevators at different levels of the weapons magazines. Linear motors are being considered for the advanced weapons elevators. The elevators will also be relocated such that they will not impede aircraft operations on the flight deck. The redesign of the weapons movement paths and the location of the weapons elevators on the flight deck will reduce manpower and contribute to a much higher sortie generation rate.
Aircraft weapons loading
The flow of weapons to the aircraft stops on the flight deck was upgraded to accommodate the higher sortie rates. The ship carries stores of missiles and cannon rounds for fighter aircraft, bombs and air-to-surface missiles for strike aircraft, and torpedoes and depth charges for anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
Weapons elevators take the weapons systems from the magazines to the weapons handling and weapons assembly areas on the 02-level deck (below the flight deck) and express weapons elevators are installed between the handling and assembly areas and the flight deck. The two companies selected by Northrop Grumman to generate designs for the advanced weapons elevator are the Federal Equipment Company and Oldenburg Lakeshore Inc.
The deployment of all-up-rounds, which are larger, rather than traditional weapons requiring assembly will require double-height magazines and store rooms and will also impact on the level of need for weapons assembly facilities.
The US Navy outlined a requirement for a minimum 150% increase in the power-generation capacity for the CVN 21 carrier compared with the Nimitz Class carriers. The increased power capacity is needed for the four electro-magnetic aircraft launchers and for future systems such as directed energy weapons that might be feasible during the carrier's 50-year lifespan.
Planned aircraft complement
The Ford class is designed to accommodate the new Joint Strike Fighter carrier variant aircraft (F-35C), but aircraft development and testing delays have affected integration activities on CVN-78. These integration activities include testing the F-35C with CVN-78’s EMALS and advanced arresting gear system and testing the ship’s storage capabilities for the F-35C’s lithium-ion batteries (which provide start-up and back-up power), tires, and wheels. As a result of F-35C developmental delays, the Navy will not field the aircraft until at least 2017—one year after CVN-78 delivery. As a result, the Navy has deferred critical F-35C integration activities, which introduces risk of system incompatibilities and costly retrofits to the ship after it is delivered to the Navy.
Crew accommodations
A typical berthing on Ford-class aircraft carriers of three racks per section
Systems that reduce crew workload have allowed the ship’s company on Ford-class carriers to total only 2,600 sailors, about 600 fewer than a Nimitz-class flattop. The massive, 180-man berthing areas on the Nimitz class are replaced by 40 racks per berthing on Ford-class carriers. The smaller berthings are quieter and the layout requires less foot traffic through other spaces.
The racks are typically stacked three high, with one locker per person and extra lockers for those without storage space under their rack. The berthings, however, do not feature “sit-up” racks with more headroom (each rack can only accommodate a sailor lying down). Each berthing has an associated head, including showers, vacuum-powered septic system toilets (no urinals since the berthings are built gender-neutral), and sinks to reduce travel and traffic to access those facilities. Wifi-enabled lounges are located across the passageway in separate spaces from the berthing’s racks.
First-of-class type design changes
As construction of CVN-78 progresses, the shipbuilder is discovering first-of-class type design changes, which it will use to update the model prior to the follow-on ship construction. To date, several of these design changes have related to EMALS configuration changes, which have required electrical, wiring, and other changes within the ship. Although the Navy reports that these EMALS-related changes are nearing completion, it anticipates additional design changes stemming from remaining advanced arresting gear development and testing. In total, over 1,200 anticipated design changes remain to be completed (out of nearly 19,000 planned changes). According to the Navy, many of these 19,000 changes were programmed into the construction schedule early on—a result of the government’s decision at contract award to introduce improvements during construction to the ship’s warfare systems, which are heavily dependent on evolving commercial technologies.
Raytheon was contracted in October 2008 to supply a version of the dual-band radar (DBR) developed for the Zumwalt Class destroyer for installation on the Gerald R Ford. DBR combines X-band and S-band phased arrays.
Northrop Grumman is developing the advanced nuclear propulsion system and a zonal electrical power distribution system for the CVN 21.
There was a movement by the USS America Carrier Veterans' Association to have CVN-78 named after America rather than after President Ford. Eventually, the amphibious assault ship LHA-6 was named America.
On 27 May 2011, the Department of Defense announced the name of CVN-79 would be USS John F. Kennedy.
On 1 December 2012, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that CVN-80 would be named USS Enterprise. The information was delivered during a prerecorded speech as part of the deactivation ceremony for the previous USS Enterprise (CVN-65). The future Enterprise (CVN-80) will be the ninth U.S. Navy ship to bear this name.

A330-200 MRTT Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA), United Kingdom

In January 2004, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the selection of the AirTanker consortium under a private finance initiative arrangement to provide air-to-air refuelling services for the UK's Army, Navy and Air Force.
The tanker transporters will replace the RAF's fleet of 26 VC-10 and Tristar tanker aircraft which are approaching the end of their operational life.
The MoD air-to-air refuelling programme will cover a 27-year service period and represents the world's largest defence private financing initiative arrangement. The contract includes options to extend the service for a further period.
Future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA) programme
The programme is known as the future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA) programme. In February 2005, AirTanker was confirmed as preferred bidder for the FSTA.
In June 2007, the UK MoD approved the private finance initiative (PFI) for 14 A330-200 tankers, under which AirTanker will own and support the aircraft while the RAF will fly the aircraft and have total operational control.
In March 2008, the UK MoD placed a 27-year contract for the 14 aircraft. The maiden flight of the RAF's first A330-200 was completed in September 2010. The second aircraft took off on its first flight in October 2010. The first A330-200 MRTT entered service in June 2011.

Design and development
The Airbus A330 MRTT is a military derivative of the A330-200 airliner. It is designed as a dual-role air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft. For air-to-air refuelling missions the A330 MRTT can be equipped with a combination of any of the following systems:
 - Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) for     receptacle equipped receiver aircraft.
 - Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods for probe-equipped receiver     aircraft.
 - Cobham 805E Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU) for probe-equipped         receiver aircraft
 - Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI)     for self in-flight refuelling.
AirTanker consortium details
The AirTanker consortium is led by EADS with a 40% share and also includes Cobham (13.33%), Rolls-Royce (20%), Thales (13.33%) and VT Aerospace (13.33%).
The consortium will convert and own the A330-200 multirole tanker transporter (MRTT) aircraft. The consortium is responsible for certifying and maintaining the aircraft and also for the provision of crew training for the RAF and the provision of sponsored reservist aircrews to supplement the RAF crew when required.
Airbus A330-200 MRTT international orders
In April 2004, Australia also selected the A330-200 MRTT for the AIR 5402 requirement for five aircraft. The MRTT, designated the KC-30B, replaces Australia's Boeing 707 tanker transporters. In June 2006, Airbus delivered the first A330 platform to EADS CASA in Madrid for conversion.
First flight of the KC-30B for Australia was in June 2007. The first two A330-200 MRTT aircraft were delivered to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in June 2011. The fifth and final aircraft was handed over to RAAF Base Amberley in December 2012. The RAAF A330-200 MRTT achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in February 2013.
In February 2007, the A330 MRTT was selected by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The contract to procure three A330-200 MRTT aircraft was placed in February 2008. The first aircraft accomplished its maiden flight in April 2011. It was delivered to the UAE Air Force in February 2013.
UAE received the second and third A330 MRTT aircraft from Airbus Military in May and August 2013 respectively.
In January 2008, Saudi Arabia placed an order for three A330 MRTT aircraft. The aircraft are fitted with the EADS air refuelling boom system (ARBS) and hose and drogue refuelling pods. A further three A330 MRTT aircraft were ordered by the Saudi Ministry of Defence and Aviation in July 2009, bringing the orders to six.
The first A330-200 MRTT to be deployed in the Royal Saudi Air Force completed its maiden flight in March 2011. The first batch of three aircraft was delivered by early 2013. The A330 MRTT aircraft formally entered into service with the Royal Saudi Air Force in February 2013. The delivery of second batch of aircraft is scheduled to commence in late 2014.
In February 2008, the KC-30 (since redesignated the KC-45), a tanker based on the A330, was chosen for the US Air Force KC-X next-generation tanker requirement to replace the KC-135. Northrop Grumman led the KC-30 team, with EADS as a major subcontractor. An appeal by competitor Boeing was upheld and in September 2008, the US Department of Defense cancelled the competition.
In January 2013, Airbus Military was selected as a preferred bidder by the Government of India to supply six A330 MRTT aircraft for the Indian Air Force.

Deployment of the A330-200 FSTA
The company AirTanker Services will operate and maintain the fleet of A330-200 MRTT aircraft. VT Group, the support services integrator, will be based at RAF Brize Norton.
On military operations the aircraft will be flown by Royal Air Force aircrew. When not in military service, the aircraft can be leased for commercial use and operated by civilian aircrew.
It is envisaged that the fleet will be managed in three groups. The majority will be in full time military service with the RAF. Another group will be in military service during the weekdays, switching to commercial use at the weekend and the other aircraft will be in full-time commercial use but available to the RAF in times of crisis.
Manufacture / conversion of A330-200 future strategic tanker aircraft
The standard A330-200 commercial aircraft is being built at the Airbus manufacturing centre at Toulouse. The aircraft was transferred to Cobham manufacturing facilities at Bournemouth International Airport, UK, in September 2011, for conversion to the tanker transporter variant and aircraft certification was carried out by QinetiQ at Boscombe Down in the same month.
All the aircraft will be capable of being fitted with two Cobham FRL 900E Mark 32B refuelling pods, one under each wing. Some aircraft will receive a third centreline underbelly refuelling system. The A330-200 wing shares the same design structure, including the strengthened mounting points, as that of the four-engine A340 aircraft. The wing positions for mounting the air-to-air refuelling pods therefore require minimal modification.
The aircraft's fuel system includes the installation of additional pipework and controls.
The baseline commercial aircraft uses a configuration of very high capacity fuel tanks in the wings so modifications to the fuel tanks for the tanker transporter role are not required.
Other than the refuelling systems, the main areas of modification are the installation of plug-in and removable military avionics, military communications and a defensive aids suite. The military systems will be removed when the aircraft is in commercial non-military use. The passenger cabin and the cargo compartment are not altered.
The lower deck cargo compartment can hold six 88in x 108in Nato standard pallets plus two LD3 containers. The civil cargo load could be 28 LD3 containers or eight 96in×125in pallets plus two LD3 containers.
Refuelling capabilities of the A330-200 MRTT aircraft
The A330-200 MRTT has a sufficiently high cruise speed and large internal fuel capacity to fly 4,000km, refuel six fighter aircraft en route and carry 43t of non-fuel cargo. Similarly, the aircraft could give away 68t of fuel during two hours on station at a range of 1,000nm.
The aircraft has a maximum fuel capacity of 139,090l, or 111t. The high fuel capacity enables the aircraft to fly at longer ranges, to stay on station longer and to refuel more aircraft, which increases the basing options and reduces forces reliance on host nation support. For the UK requirement the aircraft is fitted with a hose and drogue system, but is fitted with a refuelling boom system for the Australian order.
Cobham is providing the air refuelling equipment, including the 905E wing pods and a fuselage refuelling unit. Cobham also supplies antennae, cockpit control systems, oxygen and fuel system units and composite components for all Airbus A330 aircraft.
The QinetiQ AirTanker support team carried out an air refuelling trial of the A330-200 aircraft on 28 October 2003. The test involved assessing the handling qualities of the Tornado aircraft flown in a number of representative refuelling positions astern the wing and centreline refuelling stations.
The two-hour flight test included various approaches to the refuelling positions and exploring displacements vertically and laterally from the normal refuelling position.
The trial was carried out between 15,000ft and 20,000ft and at 280kt, which is the middle of the Tornado's refuelling envelope. Within this test envelope there was minimum turbulence in the airflow astern the A330-200 and the Tornado's handling qualities were very satisfactory in all tested positions.

A330-200 future strategic tanker aircraft flight deck
The flight deck of the A330 is similar to that of the A340. The tanker transporter aircraft cockpit has a refuelling officer's station behind the pilot and co-pilot seats. The electronic flight information system has six large interchangeable displays with duplicated primary flight and navigation displays (PFD and ND) and electronic centralised aircraft monitors (ECAM). The pilot and co-pilot positions have sidestick controllers and rudder pedals. The aircraft is equipped with an Airbus future navigation system (FANS-A), including a Honeywell flight management system and Smiths digital control and display system.
The fly-by-wire computer suite includes three flight control primary computers and two flight control secondary computers, all operating continuously.
UK tankers are being fitted with the Northrop Grumman large aircraft infra-red countermeasures system (LAIRCM).
Even with a full fuel load, the aircraft has the capacity to carry 43t of cargo. The aircraft can carry up to 380 passengers.
Engines used by the A330-200 FSTA
The aircraft for the UK are powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B jet engines, each providing 71,100lb of thrust. The aircraft for Australia are powered by GE CF6-80E1 engines, rated at 72,000lb thrust. The auxiliary power unit is a Hamilton Sundstrand GTCP 331-350C.
The main four-wheel bogie landing gear, the fuselage centre line twin wheel auxiliary gear and the twin wheel nose units are fitted with Goodyear tyres. The runway length for maximum take-off weight is 2,650m and the ground turning radius is 43.6m.

IL-78 Midas Air-to-Air Refuelling / Transport Aircraft, Russia

Design and development
IL-78 Midas from 203rd Guards Air Refuelling Regiment
The Il-76 tanker was conceived as long ago as 1968, but the transferable fuel load for the initial version was only 10 tonnes, which was insufficient, so development was shelved. When the higher performance Il-76 became available the tanker project was restarted in 1982 as the Il-78.
In addition to the increased fuel load of the late model Il-76, the Il-78 has two removable 18,230-liter fuel tanks installed in the freight hold, giving transferable loads of 85,720 kg (188,980 lb) (with hold tanks) or 57,720 kg (127,250 lb) (without). Controlled from the gunner station, which is stripped of military equipment, three aircraft can refuel in flight simultaneously from the UPAZ-1A (Il-78) / UPAZ-1M (IL-78M) 26m refuelling pods fitted to the outer wings and rear fuselage. In addition, four aircraft can also be refuelled on the ground using conventional refuelling hoses extending from the freight hold. Because of the aircraft's high all-up weight after take-off, which in an emergency would mean landing at weights well in excess of maximum allowable landing weight, the Il-78 has a fuel jettison system with jettison ports at the wingtips.
Soon after the Il-78 passed acceptance tests in 1984, Ilyushin was instructed to design and produce an upgraded version to be known as Il-78M. The Il-78M is a dedicated tanker and cannot be converted back to the transport role easily. Adding a third freight hold tank increased transferable fuel to 105,720 kg (233,070 lb) and maximum take-off weight (MTOW) to 210,000 kg (460,000 lb), necessitating reinforcement of the wing torsion box. UPAZ-1M refuelling pods improved maximum fuel flow to 2,900 l/min [2] (638 Imp gal/min). Because the Il-78M is not "convertible", all cargo handling equipment was removed and cargo doors were deleted, saving approximately 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) in structural weight.
Early versions of the Il-78 have the fuselage pod mounted on a short horizontal pylon, but the Il-78M has the fuselage pod suspended from an identical pylon to the wing pods, attached to a short stub wing. This modification was served to isolate the pod from turbulence generated by the fuselage, with the added benefit of commonality with the wing pod/pylon combination. Some Il-78s were produced with Aeroflot colours and civilian registrations, but production Il-78Ms received military markings, registration and colour scheme.
The majority of the twenty Il-78 aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force have been permanently converted to pure transports, freight hold tanks and refuelling equipment being removed.

IL-78 aerial refuelling tanker variants
The IL-78 has five variants, namely IL-78T, IL-78M, IL-78ME, IL-78MKI, and IL-78MP.
IL-78T is an alternative version of the IL-78 primarily used for holding all cargo handling equipment and convertible freight.
Another variant, the IL-78M, is a consecrate tanker aircraft designed to perform only refuelling operations without being able to be converted into transport aircraft. It is equipped with three permanent fuselage tanks. The IL-78M took its maiden flight on 7 March 1987.
The IL-78ME is an export version of IL-78M.
The IL-78MKI is a tailor-made variant of IL-78M and is equipped with Israeli fuel-transferring systems. These aircraft were deployed by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and can refuel six to eight Sukhoi Su-30MKIs in a single operation. The variant took its maiden flight on 11 January 2003.
The IL-78MP is a multipurpose aerial-refuelling tanker or transport aircraft. It is fitted with removable fuel tanks in the cargo hold and UPAZ refuelling pods.
These aircraft are deployed by the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) and can be easily converted to transport aircraft by removing the fuel tanks.
Midas orders and deliveries
In December 2008, the PAF signed an agreement with Ukraine to procure four IL-78 refuelling aircraft equipped with Russian-designed UPAZ refuelling pods.
The first IL-78 aircraft was delivered in December 2009. The second was delivered in 2010 and the third tanker in February 2011. The fourth is yet to be delivered.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) placed an order for six IL-78s in 2003. The first refuelling aircraft equipped with Israeli-made aerial refuelling pods was delivered to IAF in March 2003. The IL-78 has a total fuel carrying capacity of 110,000kg.
The deliveries to IAF were completed in 2004. The aircraft have been deployed at the Agra Air Force Base in India.
The People's Liberation Army Air Force procured four IL-78s in 2005. The Russian and Ukrainian Air Forces operate 19 and eight IL-78 aircraft respectively.

IL-78 cockpit
The IL-78 has a glass cockpit that features five seats for two pilots, a communication officer, a navigator and a flight engineer. The two pilots sit at the front of the cockpit and just behind it is a seat reserved for the flight engineer. The outer corner of the flight engineer's seat is meant for the communication officer. One deck below the glass nose is the navigator's chair.
The avionics of the IL-78 include an integrated (automated) flight control and navigation system with a compass system, ground surveillance radar, a central digital computer, an automatic monitoring (AMS) and automatic flight control system (AFCS), a short-haul radio navigation and landing system, an identification friend or foe transponder (IFF), an optical / infrared aiming sight and a ground collision warning system (GCWS).
Other avionics installed in the aircraft include distance measuring equipment (DME), dual very-high-frequency (VHF) navigation / communication and X-band colour weather radar in the nose.
It is also fitted with a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), a global positioning system (GPS), a cockpit voice recorder / flight data recorder (CVR/FDR), an instrument landing system (ILS) and a tactical aid for navigation (TACAN) system.
Six crew and up to 138,000kg cargo can be carried on the cargo deck above the refuelling systems.
Aviadvigatel D-30 KP turbofan engines
The IL-78 is powered by four Aviadvigatel D-30 KP turbofan engines. Each engine can produce a maximum take-off thrust of 118kN. It is a two-shaft, low-bypass turbofan engine equipped with two spool compressor and mixed flow.
The D-30 KP turbofan engine is primarily used for short-haul airplanes for passenger transportation. The length and fan tip diameter of the engine are 3.98m and 1.05m respectively.
IL-78 performance
The IL-78 can fly at a maximum speed of 850km/h. The range and service ceiling of the aircraft are 7,300km and 12,000m respectively. The aircraft weighs around 72,000kg and the maximum take-off weight is 210,000kg.