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Arkansas Goes Boom, to Make Refueling Hardware for America’s Next Aerial Strategic Tanker

In the span of just a few decades, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) became the dominant force in the sky thanks to the rapid evolution of aerial refueling. Using flying gas stations that take off from allied bases located all over the world, the USAF is able to replenish the needs of its fighters and bombers almost anywhere and anytime, effectively increasing their range and operating time.
LMXT tanker 12 photos
Lockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real useLockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real useLockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real useLockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real useLockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real useLockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real useLockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real useLockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real useLockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real useLockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real useLockheed Martin LMXT in simulated and real use
In fact, America operates the largest aerial tanker fleet in the world, counting some 650 airplanes. The fleet includes the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-46 Pegasus, but some of them are getting old, and will soon be in need of replacement.

With some members of the Boeing-made KC family on their way out the door, the American military is looking for a replacement, and the LMXT is Lockheed Martin's and Airbus’ potential solution for that need.

Based on the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), the LMXT should provide "significantly improved range and fuel offload capacity over current tankers,” and the two companies working on it are so confident it will be in military service soon, that they’ve even selected production sites.

As per the info we already knew, the plane will be assembled in Mobile, Alabama, and Marietta, Georgia, at Lockheed Martin and Airbus facilities, respectively. But this week we learned of a crucial component for the plane being put together elsewhere.

The LMXT is supposed to come with a fully automatic boom/air-to-air refueling system, and it's this one that will be produced in a new facility Airbus is planning to erect in the state of Arkansas, at a location that is yet to be determined.

"Given the undisputed importance of the U.S. Air Force's strategic refueling mission, ensuring the LMXT is equipped with critical and relevant technologies for its refueling system is of paramount importance,” said in a statement CEO James Taiclet, Lockheed Martin CEO.

“Like the LMXT airframe, this refueling system is proven and low-risk, translating to known and added capabilities for the U.S. Air Force.”

The LMXT will start coming together sometime by the end of this decade.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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