McDONNELL DOUGLAS (MDC) has unveiled details of proposed KC-17 cargo/tanker versions of its C-17 transport, which could form the bulk of as many as 50 aircraft predicted as potential foreign military sales.

Details of the aircraft configuration were given to senior British Army officers for the first time at the Farnborough air show. The Army was briefed because it is the user of the aircraft rather than the operator, which is the Royal Air Force.

The baseline KC-17 is being offered to Saudia Arabia, Japan and the UK, as well as other European nations, as an alternative to the Future Large Aircraft. MDC believes that the KC-17 would fulfil the RAF's long-term requirement for a Lockheed TriStar/ BAC VC10 replacement.

The tanker would be fitted with a palletised version of the remote aerial-refuelling operator's (RARO) system developed for the Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 tankers. The system is at the forward end of the cargo bay and has television cameras to give a three-dimensional view of boom refuelling and wing-tip to wing-tip views for hose and drogue refuelling. Two optional KC-10 wing-mounted drogues would be located on hard points already built into the standard airframe.

Additional fuel for tanking would be provided from either an unused centre wing tank containing up to 38,000litres, or a roll-on optional modular fuel tank containing 25,500litres. The roll-on tank would be forward in the bay, to straddle the unloaded centre-of-gravity position.

The centreline boom would be mounted on a new cargo door interchangeable with the standard door. The lower cargo ramp door would be retained, allowing access and removal of the RARO and the optional fuel tank.

Maximum take-off weight for the aircraft would remain at 266,000kg, even for the KC-17 variant with a centre wing tank and modular fuel tank.

See Defence, P20.

Source: Flight International