Military Review

Vice News: How the New American Invisible "Flying Gas Station" Will Restrain Russia

The United States military is currently preparing a draft defense budget for the 2017 fiscal year. Over the next few months, Pentagon staff will have to complete a number of important tasks, as well as justify the required level of funding. The new budget is required to take into account the costs of the existing army and the purchase of new military products, as well as provide for the costs of promising projects. Recently, some information appeared about such plans of the Ministry of Defense. As it turned out, in the next fiscal year it is planned to start a new, bold project in the interests of the air force.

The Pentagon’s new plans are reported in the American edition of Vice News in its article “How New Invisible Flying Gas Will Restrain Russia” by Ryan Fate, published by February 5. The author learned about the current work on the new military budget and revealed some details of the existing plans.

Currently, Vice News reminds, the Pentagon leadership, led by Minister Ashton Carter, is working on a new military budget for the next fiscal year. According to current plans, 2017 billion dollars will be spent on defense in 582,7. Among other things, it is planned to launch several new projects aimed at the further development of armaments and military equipment. In his recent statements, E. Carter mentioned several previously secret projects that will be implemented in the foreseeable future.

According to R. Feith, of particular interest are the two projects mentioned by the head of the American military department. To a certain extent they are opposites, but they are nevertheless worthy of special mention. In addition, a careful study of these programs allows us to imagine how the Pentagon sees future wars in the air.

The first promising program involves the creation of a new "aircraft-arsenal." About the appearance of such plans E. Carter reported a few days ago. The second project, which has not yet received full approval from the military leadership, is associated with the development and construction of inconspicuous unmanned tanker aircraft.

According to reports, the "arsenal aircraft" will be used to attack remote targets of the enemy, including from outside the range of his air defense. It is assumed that the size and weight of the new strike aircraft will surpass the existing B-1B and even B-52 bombers. Such a flying "arsenal" will receive a set of various radio-electronic equipment, as well as be able to carry a variety of strike weapons, primarily air-to-surface missiles. Through the use of guided missiles, including long-range, the "arsenal plane" will be able to attack the enemy, staying at a safe distance. The range of such a shock system can reach thousands of miles.

The concept of such a strike aircraft appeared in the seventies of the last century. At that time such a project was considered as a reasonable and relatively cheap alternative to full-fledged strategic bombers. The use of an “arsenal plane” made it possible to deliver missiles with nuclear warheads to the launch area without using expensive and sophisticated specialized bombers. The new project of the flying "arsenal" is markedly different from the old one. Thus, it is proposed to use a promising strike aircraft in conjunction with the existing F-35 fighter jets. It is assumed that subtle tactical aircraft will fly over enemy territory and search for targets. Then they will give target designation to the “arsenal”, which will be able to strike at the set targets with the aid of long-range missile weapons.

The second program, which has been actively discussed recently, involves the development of an unmanned stealth refueling aircraft. Here R. Faith asks the question: “why are the military going to develop an unmanned tanker instead of an attack drone?” and immediately answers it. The fact is that such a technique is an important element of the combat aviation, which allows other aircraft and UAVs to successfully solve the tasks.

Currently, the US naval forces are actively working on the UCLASS project, whose goal is to create a reconnaissance and drone deck-based drone. Despite all the successes achieved, this project is still far from full-fledged operation in the army. For further development of the UCLASS project, it is proposed to develop a similar unmanned vehicle with the possibility of refueling vehicles in flight. It is expected that in the very near future E. Carter will confirm the beginning of the full-fledged development of the CBARS project (Carrier Based Aerial Refueling System - “Deck System for In-Flight Refueling”). The emergence of such technology will provide important experience, as well as contribute to the further development of the main project of UCLASS.

The CBARS project will be developed to solve two main tasks. The first is the development of new technologies and other issues of unification with other projects. The second task is fully related to ensuring the correct combat work of other equipment. Existing air refueling complexes have some drawbacks. For example, they can be used only at a safe distance from the combat zone, and the so-called. buddy tanking (refueling from the same type of aircraft) seriously limits the amount of fuel transferred.

The appearance of the stealth drone with the functions of a tanker will allow other unobtrusive aircraft to receive fuel directly above enemy territory during patrols. Due to this, in particular, the F-35 fighter jets, searching for targets for an “arsenal plane”, will be able to remain in the search zone for a long time. In addition, refueling drones can be included in the communications and control system, thanks to which they will also be used for data transmission and targeting.

With the emergence of two promising aircraft the US Air Force will have to learn new tactics for the use of combat aircraft. “Arsenal aircraft” will have to be at a safe distance from the enemy’s air defense assets, carrying on duty and, if necessary, carrying out an attack of targets with the use of long-range missiles. At the same time, the inconspicuous UAVs with the fuel on board will be directly above the enemy’s territory, performing auxiliary tasks: refueling the aircraft and providing communications. Thus, two promising projects have completely different tasks, but the finished equipment will complement each other during the battles.

The author of the publication Vice News recalls that the war is in a sense reduced to the concentration and distribution of forces. If you properly concentrate all your strike potential on the right direction, then you will successfully overcome all lines of enemy defenses. In defense, in turn, distribution is a key element. When you distribute your forces over a large area, the “bad guys” find it harder to find them and attempt to destroy them. In addition, when detecting certain objects, in the case of distribution, only a small fraction of the forces are under attack.

The proposed projects of new aviation technology to a certain extent correspond to this concept of concentration and distribution. Thus, flying "arsenals" become a means of concentrating the shock power in the right direction, and in addition, they implement the principle of distribution, since they do not need to be constantly in dangerous proximity to the enemy.

According to R. Feith, the emergence of new ideas underlying the two promising projects is the result of two main “technologists” who have been actively used in the conflicts of recent decades. These are precision strikes from long range and stealth. The author recalls that the "old" tactics involved the involvement of a large number of aircraft for various purposes, which, in the course of working with the distribution of tasks, carried out strikes at the desired objects, etc. The use of so-called stealth technology, in turn, allows the strike aircraft to break into the enemy’s airspace independently and without outside help, stay there for some time and attack designated targets. However, stealth planes are a big, expensive and difficult problem.

The long range of weapons launches, the author recalls, makes it possible to hit targets at a considerable distance and makes it possible not to use a large number of aircraft in the operation, which must fly a long distance and literally drop a large number of bombs on the target. However, such advantages are associated with the disadvantage of the high cost of “smart” ammunition. In addition, they require the use of appropriate intelligence tools to find out where the target is and how it should be attacked, and then record the results of the attack. Thus, it turns out a double problem.

It is obvious that the possession of both tactical "technologies" (stealth and precision weapons) provides a very high strike potential. Possession of them allows you to strike at the remote objects of the "bad guys" before they know that they were attacked. R. Faith admits that it is just great when you can perform such operations. However, if the enemy also owns such technologies and the necessary material part - this is much worse. In particular, this means that areas previously considered safe can no longer be protected.

In the final part of his publication, the author of the publication Vice News draws attention to foreign countries that may be considered potential opponents of the United States. In his opinion, it is now clearly visible that Russia is actively engaged in the development of promising areas and is doing everything possible to master the technologies of stealth and long-range precision strike. Thus, the Pentagon should already understand that its monopoly in this area is passing, and now it has to take into account the successes of other countries.

Projects and successes of third countries may be an additional reason that the leadership of the US Department of Defense is currently publicly discussing promising projects of strike aircraft and unmanned tankers and does not hide such plans. It is quite possible that the Pentagon is doing this to “impress” potential adversaries: Russia and China should in no case think that the United States, after the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, has forgotten how to deal with a high-tech adversary.


Currently, the Pentagon is actively preparing for "fights" in Congress for a new military budget. In a few months, military experts will have to explain to congressmen the need for one or other expenses included in the draft budget for the 2017 fiscal year. How successful this process will be, time will tell, but the experience of previous years says that the Defense Ministry leaders will have to face a serious test with lengthy disputes over each item of the budget project.

The reason for separate disputes will be the projects for the development of promising aviation equipment that will be developed: an attack “airplane-arsenal” and an unmanned unobtrusive tanker. The most interesting information about these proposals has not yet been disclosed, but it can be assumed that the development of such projects will be associated with large expenditures of finance and time. Thus, the legislative bodies will certainly find opponents of the new proposal, who will try to do everything to exclude such expensive projects from the military budget for the next fiscal year.

Due to the small amount of information disclosed, it is difficult to assess the prospects of the two proposed projects in terms of obtaining the approval of Congress. Nevertheless, now there is an opportunity to consider the proposed equipment, as well as try to predict its combat potential.

The proposal to create an “arsenal plane” looks very interesting and promising, although it may be the subject of controversy. For decades, the US Air Force has been in service with planes that directly support troops, so-called. ganships whose task is to deliver artillery or missile strikes against ground targets at target designation from land or other sources. The flying “arsenal” turns out to be a peculiar development of this idea with an increase in the main characteristics, first of all, the range of weapons use. One of the most interesting ideas of such a project is the possibility of a long patrol in a safe area without losing the strike potential, which is planned to be achieved with the help of long-range guided missiles.

Also, the proposed concept of an “aircraft-arsenal” can be considered as bringing to the logical end the idea of ​​using long-range guided weapons. At present, it is believed that tactical aviation weapons should allow attacking targets without entering the enemy's air defense zone. Arsenal, in turn, in theory, will allow attacking targets without the risk of defeating by means of air defense not only short and medium, but also long range.

The proposal to develop a drone tanker using stealth technology is also of particular interest. It should be noted that the emergence of such a technique, or at least the concept itself, was exclusively a matter of technique. UAVs have already mastered a lot of "specialties", but have not yet managed to become full-fueled tankers. In the foreseeable future, this situation may change.

Also interesting is the proposal to use stealth technologies in the design of an unmanned tanker, which, allegedly, will help it to solve the tasks posed not only in safe areas, but also over enemy territory. In the proposed form, such a concept looks promising, but only practice can show all its perspectives. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the idea of ​​building stealth tankers to service subtle fighters or attack aircraft in potentially dangerous areas is interesting in itself.

It is noteworthy that in the article “How America’s New Invisible Flying Gas Stations Could Keep Russia in Check” Russia is mentioned only twice: in the title and in the final part. At the same time, the American author recognizes Russia's recent successes in the development of the armed forces, and also notes some of the consequences of this. In particular, he argues that Russia (and also China) should not think that the United States, in the course of recent local conflicts, has forgotten how to deal with a developed adversary with high-tech weapons and equipment.

With all its positive features, the two proposed projects that can start as soon as possible will be very expensive and complex. Congress has traditionally fought to cut spending on various items, which could lead to appropriate adjustments to the military budget. In particular, the planned costs of promising projects, including the “arsenal plane” and the drone tanker, may fall under the cuts. How Congress will react to these proposals - we will find out in the foreseeable future. In the next few months, budget discussions for the next fiscal year should begin.

The article "How America's New Invisible Flying Gas Stations Could Keep Russia in Check":
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  1. aszzz888
    aszzz888 10 February 2016 07: 20 New
    According to current plans, in 2017, $ 582,7 billion will be spent on defense. Among other things, it is planned to launch several new projects aimed at the further development of armaments and military equipment.

    They saw the loot worse than our "generals" and officials! Another project, another cut! wassat
    1. iouris
      iouris 11 February 2016 01: 45 New
      Their military budget is used to develop technologies that you will buy for oil and gas dollars in the form of computers, iPads, cars, etc.
      The officials and politicians who make up the US administration rule on behalf of families worth trillions of dollars. It is difficult to steal from them without threat to life and health.
  2. Belousov
    Belousov 10 February 2016 07: 46 New
    They saw there, of course, also notably, but nevertheless trickier than ours. They will do it cheaper, the remainder will be stolen, and at first everything will be stolen from us, and then they will think how and what to do with the rest.
    1. Wheel
      Wheel 10 February 2016 09: 29 New
      In particular, he argues that Russia (as well as China) should not think that the United States, in the course of recent local conflicts, has forgotten how to deal with a developed adversary who has high-tech weapons and equipment.
      And did the USA once know how to fight a developed adversary? belay
      When and where?
      1. Wheel
        Wheel 10 February 2016 11: 05 New
        Quote: Wheel
        When and where?

        Miracle, who put a minus, tell me when and where the users successfully opposed (not to mention victories) a more or less equal opponent after the Second World War?
  3. kit_bellew
    kit_bellew 10 February 2016 08: 01 New
    It’s still easier there, they don’t even need to steal anything. In fact, there is a fight between manufacturers for a state defense order. Who has a more powerful lobby in Congress, they get it. A bold piece in your pocket already laid in the price of the final product. And the fact that this surplus value is many times greater than the cost of production does not shake anyone there - capitalism wassat
  4. corporal
    corporal 10 February 2016 08: 06 New
    I would like to see comments on the appropriateness of such developments, but here again about the cut of money. negative
    ================================================== ======
    Okay, I’ll ask the question myself:
    - How justified is the idea of ​​a flying "arsenal" for long-range missiles, when these missiles are successfully deployed on land and sea carriers? And out of reach too.
    - the meaning of finding a refueling tank (albeit barely noticeable) over the territory, where it can be shot down? Because stealth does not guarantee absolute invisibility.
    Special Aviators, your thoughts. hi
    1. Alexez
      Alexez 10 February 2016 09: 12 New
      The meaning of deploying cruise missiles on an aircraft carrier platform is to increase the range of attack, high maneuverability (in a few hours anywhere in the world), unlike land and sea carriers. And the meaning of the arsenal is an addition to their concept of a massive strike. Such an arsenal will be able to carry more aircraft than a bomber, and in connection with the described concept of use in conjunction with stealth aircraft, which are essentially reconnaissance aircraft, the flexibility and speed of use increases. Intelligence comes online, after analysis, the coordinates and parameters of the targets are immediately recorded and immediately launched.
      Unmanned stealth refueling - I hell knows why it is needed, probably - so that no one would guess! )))
    2. gvozdan
      gvozdan 10 February 2016 21: 38 New
      It is surprising that the article does not say a word about the Tu-160 and X-101.
      - the article says that these arsenals are needed to concentrate the shock potential at the right point promptly.
      - The meaning is in the round-the-clock UAV duty, and stealth, which was previously called "stealth plane" is a fetish of the US military-industrial complex, a word that allows you to increase the price of a product by 2-3 times. It's like the "tactical" fork + black paint prefix makes the fork a super multifunctional high-tech and dangerous weapon for special covert operations such as stealing the last dumplings in a dark room.
  5. Sargord A.
    Sargord A. 10 February 2016 09: 24 New
    Have you already resolved the problem of counteracting electronic warfare and anti-satellite weapons?
  6. vvp2412
    vvp2412 10 February 2016 11: 44 New
    Such a flying gumno may be necessary for the United States only against Russia or China. There are no other opponents for such systems.
    But, what idiot would come up with sending the F-35 to enemy territory (Russia-China), where air defense systems are developed, and where will they be guaranteed to be shot down?
    It turns out that this flying arsenal nafig is not needed ... But it’s good to cut loot for many years.

    drone-invisible tanker !!!! What is missing is the function of a submarine and a space shuttle!
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 10 February 2016 19: 21 New
      "where are the air defense systems developed, and where are they guaranteed to be shot down?" ///

      Air defense systems are located tightly around Moscow, a little near St. Petersburg and
      several strategic industrial zones and objects.
      Along the vast perimeter of Russia there is no air defense. Large ground radars can
      detect planes almost anywhere - but NOT stealth planes.
      Such a radar can detect stealth as "something suspicious" and send it there
      fighters to check. But the problem is that fighter radars do not whip
      stealth aircraft. Those will see them much earlier.
      So without a significant amount of T-50 - nowhere. Ground defense is a weak defense.
      1. andj61
        andj61 10 February 2016 20: 07 New
        Quote: voyaka uh

        Large ground radars can
        detect planes almost anywhere - but NOT stealth planes.
        Such a radar can detect stealth as "something suspicious" and send it there
        fighters to check. But the problem is that fighter radars do not whip
        stealth aircraft. Those will see them much earlier.
        So without a significant amount of T-50 - nowhere. Ground defense is a weak defense.

        Let me disagree with you! Aircraft made using stealth technology perfectly saw the radars of even such outdated air defense systems as the S-125 - and the war in Yugoslavia proved this perfectly. One F-117 Nighthawk was shot down, one was damaged, but managed to escape. But these air defense systems worked, so to speak, in the "survivability" mode, that is, not under the control of the automated control system, without receiving target designations from the more powerful RTV radars. But both the SAM itself and the radar for it were developed back in the late 50s. And it was not even a more modern S-200!
        Do you think modern air defense systems are worse? So against the S-300 and, moreover, the S-400, stealth technology is unlikely to be effective. In addition, there is a so-called. "long arm" air defense in the form of the MiG-31, as well as flying radars. I think that they can really cope with the detection of these so-called "invisibles".
        Of course - on this I agree with you - now there is no complete cover of the country's territory with air defense systems. The Soviet system was destroyed in the 90s (but it would not have left the slightest chance for the modern "stealth" in service), and the new one is organized, rather, according to the object, and not according to the territorial-object principle. But every year the situation is improving more and more, and even a large number of "invisible" are unlikely to break through to the objects protected by the air defense system. In addition, such a breakthrough makes sense with the massive use of invisibility, and back in the 80s, we always had special items in the storehouse in our air defense armament - just for such a case.
        The network somehow went infa that in the late 70s - 80s, we leaked to the West through an open spy certain information on the development of radars in the USSR. Based on this information, invisible aircraft were created, including F-117 and B-2. But this information had nothing to do with realities. In the late 90s, after Yugoslavia, the United States also understood this. Just admit this fact was impossible - after all, so much money had sunk into invisibility - this meant admitting your incompetence. The fact that the invisibility is not visible only for the US radar, but for ours they are simply worse visible.
        1. gvozdan
          gvozdan 10 February 2016 21: 49 New
          I agree with you.
          At least until f22 or f35 or B-2 flies in the S-300 radar range it is too early to say about invisibility.

          The second point - it is only important to cover the strategically important facilities of plants and infrastructure. And let the tundra be bombed as much as you like.

          And the third point - all these strike strategies against Russia do not consistently take into account retaliatory strikes that can happen even before their missiles reach their goals.
        2. voyaka uh
          voyaka uh 11 February 2016 14: 44 New
          "the radars of even such outdated air defense systems as the S-125 could be seen perfectly - and the war
          in Yugoslavia it is perfectly proven "////

          F-117 shot down visually - he flew at the same heading, at the same time
          repeatedly. Why not bring down? The radar did not see him at all.
          Neither S-300, nor S-400, nor Patriot, nor Israeli stealth radars will see, alas!
          In 10 years, they say, such radars will appear. But "stealth" does not stand still ...
        3. heccrbq8
          heccrbq8 12 February 2016 13: 10 New
          f-117 was shot down with guidance on the OPTICAL channel, on the OPTICAL! How much is it possible.
      2. TOR2
        TOR2 10 February 2016 21: 50 New
        Quote: voyaka uh
        Large ground radars can
        detect planes almost anywhere - but NOT stealth planes.

        Even with absolutely absorbing material, when the reflection coefficient = 0, the total dispersion of the field diverging from the plane in all directions is reduced by only half. This is quite enough to detect such aircraft.
        Professor Ufimtsev
  7. Weaving
    Weaving 10 February 2016 12: 23 New
    Another cut of money for the defense industry in the American way. And they will always find a reason.
  8. TOR2
    TOR2 10 February 2016 21: 23 New
    The appearance of an invisible drone with the functions of a tanker will allow other stealth planes to take fuel directly over enemy territory during patrols.

    So it will be in Hollywood films, but in reality over the territory of the Republic of Lumumbo.
  9. Yak-3P
    Yak-3P 10 February 2016 21: 40 New
    plane - arsenal !! invisible !!! a kind of "death star" on the propellers .. lol chasing guys .. chasing .. and from below the oil rig laughing
  10. engineer
    engineer 11 February 2016 02: 35 New
    complete nonsense. refueling cannot be carried out in the air defense zone. airplanes represent the ideal target. no maneuver in height and direction. both will be shot down.