Electronic Weapons: January 20, 2003


The Air Force is determined that its new "smart tanker" will look just like the Boeing 767 from which it is derived. These "smart tankers" would be capable of various communications, reconnaissance, and intelligence missions while conducting their normal support flights, or on very long range missions using all their fuel themselves. The problem is the antennas needed for these missions. If they are too obvious, the aircraft would be identified as such when they'd rather just look like another airliner. If they are kept inside the skin, they would be hard to repair, upgrade, or replace. The current theory is to make them in relatively flat fairings only a couple of inches thick that could be placed on various wing or fuselage surfaces. But that won't be as cheap as external or internal antennas would have been. --Stephen V Cole


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