New Strategic Aircraft (NSA)
The current USAF "Air Mobility Master Plan" calls for the retirement of the C-141 transport by the year 2006 and retirement of the KC-135 tankers to begin in 2013. These 700+ aircraft, 80% of the current mobility fleet, are now 25 to 30 years old and are experiencing fatigue and corrosion problems leading to low availability rates. The C-141B represents 35% of the current US strategic airlift capability while the KC-135 comprises 90% of the tanker fleet. Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems (LMAS) is studying a new family of mid-size jet transport aircraft, called the New Strategic Aircraft (NSA), to meet U.S. DOD, international, and commercial requirements for:
- military strategic airlift,
- military air refueling,
- military personnel and equipment airdrop,
- commercial cargo and package delivery,
- a commercially viable, military capable CRAF aircraft.
The aircraft will be able to perform airlift and tanker missions through the use of integrated modular tanker systems. This will allow the use of one airframe, with the resulting logistics and operational advantages, to fulfill AMC airlift, airdrop, and air refueling missions. In the airlift role, the NSA can carry all the equipment of the Army's light divisions over a 4,000 NM range. The aircraft can airdrop over 150 paratroops or two 60,000 pound airdrop loads. For tanker missions, the aircraft can exceed the fuel offload of the KC-135R while retaining its basic airlift capability.LMAS Advanced Design engineers have studied over 40 aircraft concepts since the initiation of the NSA project in 1994.
Current effort is focused on the joined wing configuration and the operational advantages of a tanker aircraft with two refueling booms. Given that the USAF will not replace its current tankers on a one-for-one basis, planners will face a "boom intensive environment" in future conflicts