Boeing Frontiers
February 2003
Volume 01, Issue 09
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Cover Story


When the military gets its call to deploy, it needs to be there yesterday. Through a systems approach, Boeing is poised to become the world's leader in helping militaries rapidly move troops and gear to their destinations.


Keith Skelton PhotoThe military just can't sit still. It's an enterprise that's always on the move.

And the pace is quickening.

Take the U.S. military: "At every moment of every day, around the globe, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, merchant mariners, civilians, contractors and commercial partners are accomplishing a wide array of missions—and doing so in an outstanding fashion," said Air Force Gen. John Handy, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) which handles strategic air, land and sea transportation for all U.S. services.

Averaging 1,900 air missions a week, "the command is always in motion," Handy said. "On any given day, the command can be found providing critical strategic transportation to a host of U.S. and international agencies. This is a phenomenal undertaking, yet it is also a clear reality of today's global environment."

A decade ago, USTRANSCOM logisticians would have planned a deployment of three to six months to get enough people and equipment into a theater to effectively mount a major military operation. Now, they expect to do the same thing in a one month deployment. In the decades ahead, such deployments could be as short as a few weeks or days.

"The very thought that we could wait until a month before to deploy for a possible war is simply astonishing," said Howard Chambers, Boeing vice president and general manager for Airlift and Tanker Programs. "It's a real testament to the U.S. Transportation Command's tenet of rapid global mobility."

The Advanced Theater Transport concept The Advanced Theater Transport concept
A powerful aircraft that could tilt its wings to give it what's called "super short take off and landing." By being able to operate on short, unprepared runways of between 650 to 1,000 feet, it could serve as an alternative to rotor-wing heavy lifters in certain battlefield situations. Powered by four eight-bladed turboprop engines, the aircraft would feature a tailless fuselage with a forward-swept tiltwing arrangement. This configuration would provide the aircraft with the enhanced performance capability for super-STOL. It would have a fuselage cross-section similar to that of the C-17, and the tailless design would provide greater access, allowing operators to vary the size and configuration of cargo. It also could carry up to 80,000 pounds, accommodating two 20-ton Future Combat Systems vehicles—a payload roughly half as many as a C-17 but twice as many as a C-130.

Phantom Works looks to the future of transport innovation
A military transport that can take off and land on an unprepared clearing as short as 650 feet ... a wedge-shaped aircraft that can be configured to fly a variety of missions ... the largest aircraft ever built that would fly on a cushion of air just 20 feet above the ocean ... a Star Wars—style flying craft that can take off and land vertically using thrusters, but quickly accelerate to jet speeds when airborne. Those are just some of the revolutionary airplane concepts Boeing Phantom Works is studying. While Boeing leaders emphasize that the advanced-research-and-development unit is simply exploring concepts for consideration by the business units and customers, innovative Phantom Works teams have come up with ideas like these. Will any of these aircraft come to fruition? Yes, say the experts, if there is a market for them and if airplane makers can demonstrate that they are viable and practical and can be designed, built, operated and maintained affordably. Ron Prosser, vice president and general manager of Integrated Defense Advanced Systems points out that while these projects are still very much in the concept stage and none of them yet forms part of a Boeing business unit strategy, Phantom Works continues to seek out new ways to help the military transformation to an integrated battlespace. "Exploring the technical feasibility of advanced system concepts such as these is a part of the Phantom Works role in defining future options for our customers' consideration," he says. George Muellner, senior vice president of Air Force Systems at Integrated Defense Systems and former president of Phantom Works, says that Phantom Works is responsible for some exciting mobility ideas. "We've got great innovations in the pipeline for autonomous aerial refueling, advanced cargo-handling interfaces, and new transport concepts—the Advanced Theater Transport, in particular, will not be dependent on runways." "Most importantly," he says, "We are working to ensure that all our mobility systems are fully integrated into the battlefield network architecture."

—William Cole

What makes USTRANSCOM better able to move people and things faster than ever before? Certainly, it's better airlift aircraft—like the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, which the Air Force has made full use of to the tune of nearly 500,000 flight hours in eight years of fleet operation, and which also is in service with the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force.

But it's rapidly becoming much more than that. Today, true mobility depends on a systems approach that blends modern information and communications technologies with highly capable platforms to ensure that everyone and everything get to the right place at the right time.

It's having versatile, reliable aircraft, both new and old, with up-to-date avionics and communications systems that can operate effectively in a global network. And it's having people—air crews, loaders, refueling crews and maintainers —who have at their fingertips information that's as current and complete as that which the planner in the Pentagon or the battlefield commander is looking at.

Boeing wants to position itself as the world's lead integrator of mobility and other military systems—both those it builds and those other companies build, according to Chairman and CEO Phil Condit.

An effective network, he said, "has to tie things together—strike airplanes, unmanned aerial vehicles, advanced warning and control system aircraft, transports, tankers and satellites—in intelligent ways. And we're the only company that can do all that. It doesn't mean we have to build the whole thing. But we do have to understand it," Condit said.

Boeing is "going to have an advantage [in that area] because we'll be doing systems integration as opposed to just building pieces of the whole," Condit asserts. "Our opportunities will come out of developing and using the tools that enable us to build networks and tie platforms into those networks."

The Boeing systems approach to mobility is likely to have a dramatic impact in the years ahead, Condit said. "Our customer has a huge task, which is how to get all the things you need to get where you need to get them. You don't want to spend six months transporting people and equipment and getting ready to do something. You want to be able to move and respond quickly. And that has implications for tankers, transports, fighters, bombers, or rotorcraft like the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.

"If you know where everything is and if you're tied into the network, you can do amazing things," Condit said.

The Blended Wing Body concept
As the name implies, this concept doesn't reflect the traditional airplane design. Instead, it's more like The Blended Wing Body concept a flying wing, which offers a greater lift-to-drag ratio than traditional designs and is structurally simpler. In fact, the size of the airplane can be varied simply by adding or removing modular units to or from the mid-body of the vehicle without changing the outer wings. The BWB concept, which NASA originally sponsored, has evolved through several designs over ten years. Phantom Works has flown a 17- foot scale model successfully and is now collaborating with Cranfield Aerospace in the United Kingdom on producing a higher fidelity 21-foot wingspan demonstrator. Because of the BWB's modular design, engineers could adapt it for use as a bomber; an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft; a global-range transport; a tanker and transport; and a gunship.

The aerospace industry has taken notice of the growing mobility needs of the U.S. Defense Department and world militaries. Boeing, for one, has identified mobility as one of the seven key market segments for its newly formed Integrated Defense Systems business unit. Mobility makes up 16 percent of the $24 billion in business IDS programs generate.

And looking to the future, Boeing Phantom Works has technology and concept exploration programs such as the Advanced Theater Transport, the Blended Wing Body and the Pelican military transport that offer innovative solutions to USTRANSCOM's needs for rapid airlift, aerial refueling and full integration into a battlefield network.

This portfolio of current and future mobility systems "makes Boeing the market leader in mobility today," said George Muellner, Boeing senior vice president for Air Force Systems and leader of the IDS Strategic Business Council for Mobility. "Our challenge is to grow that market leadership over the long term."

The IDS Mobility Council has the job of ensuring "that we make the right strategic choices so that Boeing remains the world's leading provider of mobility products for decades to come," Muellner said. Many of the strategies that Boeing will use to maintain market leadership in mobility revolve around the concept of interoperability within a global network.

The Light Aerial Multi-purpose Vehicle (LAMV) concept
It works like a helicopter, but it doesn't have a giant spinning rotor and it can fly as fast as a jet. Sounds too good to be true? Well, new technology could The Light Aerial Multi-purpose Vehicle (LAMV) conceptmake it happen. The Phantom Works LAMV concept may be just what the Army is looking for to complete its transformation to its Future Combat System. Powered by revolutionary Pulse Ejector Thrust Augmentor thrusters, the LAMV can take off and land vertically, just as a helicopter does. But the thrusters replace the familiar main rotors; and, once airborne, the aircraft can fly fast like a fixed-wing jet. For the Army, this translates into a long-sought way to quickly deploy, maneuver, resupply, and evacuate troops on the battlefields of the future.

Muellner said that rapid developments in information and communications technologies are making it possible to exploit 'open systems' information architectures and information-wrapping technologies. These technologies are making systems upgrades more affordable and are enabling operational interoperability among the U.S. military services and even with NATO's and different nations' military forces, at the machine level.

That is a major factor behind the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program that Boeing is performing on aging Lockheed-built U.S. Air Force C-130 transports. And it means that today's C-17 and 767 Tanker Transport aircraft, which have the latest avionics and communications technologies designed in, can be upgraded affordably in future years as new technologies become available.

The result is that "every military platform within a force can become just about as capable as the most capable element in the overall force," Muellner said. "The network becomes a powerful force multiplier."

The overall Boeing IDS strategy for the Mobility market, as it is with other market segments, is to combine communications and knowledge management expertise from Boeing's former Space and Communications business unit with platform knowledge from the company's former Military Aircraft and Missile Systems organization to offer integrated solutions that make mobility systems more effective.

The Pelican concept
It would be the biggest plane ever built, a huge high-capacity cargo plane concept that has military, commercial and even space potential. The Pelican would have almost twice the The Pelican conceptexternal dimensions of the world's current largest aircraft, the Russian An225. It could transport more than five times the An225's payload, up to 1,400 tons of cargo. The Pelican would stretch more than the length of a football field. It would have a wingspan of 500 feet, and a wing area of more than an acre. Designed primarily for long-range, trans-oceanic transport, the Pelican would fly as low as 20 feet above the sea using the latest flight-control technology and taking advantage of an aerodynamic phenomenon called ground effect that reduces drag and fuel burn. Over land, it would fly at altitudes of 20,000 feet or higher. Commercially, the aircraft's size and efficiency would allow it to carry types of cargo equivalent to the cargo that container ships carry—at more than 10 times the speed. The military could even use the Pelican as a mother ship for unmanned vehicles and as a potential first-stage platform for piggybacking reusable space vehicles up to an appropriate launch altitude.

In addition to the C-17 military transport, Boeing's portfolio of mobility systems includes derivatives of its commercial airplanes (such as the 767 Tanker Transport, the C-40A military transport, the C-40B executive transport and the C-32 executive transport) and rotorcraft (updated versions of the CH-47 Chinook and the V-22 Osprey, which is built in partnership with Bell Helicopter Textron).

Boeing is under contract to build 180 C-17s through 2008. Gen. Handy has said USTRANSCOM needs at least 222 C-17s to meet its long-term mobility requirements. "The C-17 is remarkable in its capability," he said.

The Globemaster has been the featured heavy lifter for Operation Enduring Freedom, flying 47 percent of all airlift missions in that theater. A combined Boeing, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Defense Logistics Agency aerospace support team, under a contract known as Flexible Sustainment, is working toward ensuring the C-17 has the best supportability metrics of any airlift aircraft in the world.

Next year, U.S. Air National Guard crews will join Air Force and Reserve crews as C-17 operators. The U. K. Royal Air Force operates four C-17s, and Boeing is expecting additional international customers. C-17s soon will fill the Air Force special operations airlift mission that Lockheed C-141s now perform.

The U.S. Air Force is considering the lease of 100 Boeing 767 Tanker Transports to replace aging tankers that are an average of 42 years old. The Boeing lease proposal, at about $17 billion, enables the Air Force to get the new tankers five years earlier than traditional government procurement and save more than $5 billion in maintenance and upgrade costs by retiring the oldest tankers.

Sized for optimum fuel offload and range, the 767 Tanker Transport provides enhanced mission capability and flexibility, the Boeing-developed boom-and-receptacle and hose-and-drogue aerial refueling systems, and full European Union and NATO interoperability compared with current tankers.

The C-40A is a 737-700 convertible/ combi aircraft for the U.S. Navy that will replace Douglas C-9 airlift transports in service since the early 1970s. C-40As will be used for the Navy Unique Fleet Essential Airlift mission to transport passengers and cargo around the world. The aircraft will be certified to operate in three configurations: all-passenger, all-cargo or a combination. The Navy has ordered six C-40As to begin replacing its fleet of 29 C-9B aircraft.

Meeting the sustainment challenge
Keeping large fleets of aging aircraft mission-ready is a big proposition. And a costly one.

That's a challenge the U.S. Defense Department faces in meeting its mobility needs. For example, the U.S. Air Force fleet of more than 540 KC-135 Stratotankers, currently the backbone of the Air Mobility Command's air-refueling resources, averages 42 years old. CH-47 Chinook helicopters, the mainstay of the U.S. Army's mobility assets, average around 30 years old, and the Army expects them to be almost 75 years old when it finally retires the last of them.

C-130Both of these aircraft continue to play vital roles in the United States' defense, and they are among the first the military calls on to support worldwide deployments. Yet aging fleets and high operational tempos come with a price. Maintenance costs tend to rise, fleet availability decreases, and obtaining out-of-production spare parts becomes expensive and difficult. And, platforms need upgrades to keep them relevant in today's integrated battlespace and changing global navigation standards.

Boeing Aerospace Support, part of Integrated Defense Systems, holds all the capabilities to meet those challenges.

"Aerospace Support brings together in one organization all the competencies needed to boost effectiveness and reduce costs over the entire life cycle of an aircraft or weapon system," said David Spong, president of Aerospace Support.

For example, the Boeing Aerospace Support Center in San Antonio is focused on providing high-quality, fast cycle-time maintenance and modification services, specifically on large military aircraft. The 2,300 Boeing workers at this center see a large portion of the Air Force mobility fleet as KC-135 and KC-10 tankers and C-17 Globemaster III transports cycle through for various types of work, including heavy "depot" maintenance.

The KC-135 is no stranger at the Wichita Modification and Development Center, either. Since the early 1980s, the Aerospace Support team in Wichita has performed an extensive program to re-engine the tanker to improve its performance and lower its lifecycle costs.

Aerospace Support's business is not limited to Boeing platforms. The Air Force is entrusting it to bring new capabilities to its fleet of more than 500 C-130 Hercules transports, originally built by Lockheed Martin. The C-130 Avionics Modernization Program combines proven flight deck technology with leading-edge flight management capabilities, which results in reduced flight-crew workload, higher reliability and significantly lower total ownership costs over current configurations, as well as compatibility with global air-traffic standards.

This program, which leverages the Bold Stroke open-architecture technology that Phantom Works developed, also builds aircraft commonality with the C-17, which means future avionics upgrades will be easier and more affordable for a huge portion of the Air Force mobility fleet.

The greatest affordability and readiness gains are made through broad, performance-based support programs that build on all of the Aerospace Support capabilities, and the C-17 Flexible Sustainment program serves as the template for developing other innovative solutions. Flexible Sustainment integrates virtually all support aspects of the Air Force's most capable airlift aircraft, and it has provided above-plan readiness rates, allowed the service to avoid significant investments in new infrastructure, and returned millions of dollars to the service through a shared-savings clause.

"Our job is to partner with our mobility customers to overcome the readiness and affordability challenges they face," Spong said. "Our Aerospace Support organization is uniquely positioned to do just that."

—Paul Guse

The C-40B is a modified Boeing Business Jet that provides high-performance, flexible and economical airlift support for senior U.S. military commanders, senior government leadership and team travel. Boeing is under contract to deliver four C-40Bs to the Air Force. They are equipped with the Connexion by Boeing system to provide secure in-flight broadband connectivity for enhanced communications, productivity and security.

The C-32A is a specially configured Boeing 757-200 for the U.S. Air Force. The aircraft provides safe, reliable worldwide airlift for the vice president, cabinet members and other U.S. government officials. Four C-32As are currently in service.

At Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, the top priority "is to meet the demands of the future warfighter," said Pat Shanahan, Boeing vice president and general manager, Rotorcraft Systems. "Whether it's through upgrading existing aircraft or exploring the outer limits of our imaginations, we are committed to producing the best solutions possible."

The CH-47 Chinook, the U.S. Army's prime mover since the early 1960s, and the V-22 Osprey, the Marine Corps' troop transport of the future, are integral parts of the Boeing IDS mobility support plan.

Through six model designations, numerous systems upgrades and thousands of missions, the Chinook has helped shape the outcome of multiple conflicts, from Vietnam to Operation Enduring Freedom. Thanks to the most recent re-modernization program, the Chinook's service life is estimated to last at least another 30 years.

"Our plans to upgrade more than 300 Chinooks will help U.S. Army aviation move towards its modernization goals," Shanahan said. "The Chinook provides an effective solution to the Army's heavy-lift rotorcraft and mobility needs. It addresses the interoperability issues facing today's Army while preparing for the operational challenges of the future." Chinooks also are in the fleets of the U.S. Army Reserve, National Guard and several international customers.

Although not yet operational, the tiltrotor V-22's unique capabilities offer the Marine Corps, Special Operations Command and other users unprecedented mobility advantages. Its ability to take off and land like a helicopter, and reconfigure to cruise at turboprop aircraft speeds, will allow it to move troops into and, as importantly, out of danger zones faster than comparable aircraft.

Currently the V-22 is undergoing a rigorous flight-test program at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

Under another IDS market segment known as sustainment, Boeing offers modifications and upgrades, maintenance, spares and technical data, and lifecycle customer support programs that keep USTRANSCOM aircraft flying, increase their flexibility and give them the ability to "plug and play" in a global network. A notable example is the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program, in which Boeing is under a $4 billion contract to upgrade about 500 U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft with new digital flight deck displays, radar, communications systems, a flight-management system and air-data computers.

Overall, Boeing is doing what it takes to stay ahead of its customers' needs. And with military customers constantly on the move and needing to move faster every day, Boeing's systems approach to mobility can help militaries quickly get to where they need to go.

Additional reporting by Rick Fuller, Rick Sanford and Doug Holmes

Integrated Defense Systems' mobility portfolio
The mobility market strategy for Boeing IDS is to use a systems approach — joining state-of-the-art communications and platform technologies — to bolster efficiency for militaries on the move. Below is IDS' current mobility portfolio, which includes the workhorse C-17 Globemaster, derivatives of commercial airplanes, and updated versions of the V-22 Osprey and the CH-47 Chinook.
767 Tanker Transport767 Tanker Transport
Sized for optimum fuel offload and range, this plane provides enhanced mission capability and flexibility, the Boeing-developed boom-and-receptacle and hose-and-drogue aerial refueling systems, and full European Union and NATO interoperability.
C-40A C-40A
The C-40A is a 737-700 convertible/combi aircraft for the U.S. Navy that will replace Douglas C-9 airlift transports. C-40As will be used for the Navy Unique Fleet Essential Airlift mission to transport passengers and cargo.
V-22 OspreyV-22 Osprey
The V-22's unique capabilities offer the U.S. Marine Corps, Special Operations Command and other users unprecedented military advantages. Because it can take off and land like a helicopter, and reconfigure to cruise at turboprop aircraft speeds, the V-22 can move troops in and out of danger zones faster than comparable aircraft.
CH-47 ChinookCH-47 Chinook
Through six model designations, numerous systems upgrades and thousands of missions, the Chinook has become the U.S. Army's prime mover since the early 1960s and has helped to shape the outcome of important conflicts. Thanks to a recent remodernization program, the Chinook's service life is estimated to last at least another 30 years.

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