Ron5 wrote:I believe the current favorite is a 600 gallon tank. How much would two of those weigh?
A 600 gallon tank would weigh c3,500lbs each....but that was the size that IAI was talking about developing for the F-35A. The LM tank was to be 460 gallons, which all up, including the tank itself will weigh c3,000lbs.
Whats not clear at present is how far along anyone is on this, and if the external tanks would be suitable for all versions of F-35. I don't think it would be surprising to find that only the 460 would work for an F-35B, especially on a shortened takeoff.
The advantage of a fuel tank, in comparison to a weapon, is that you could if necessary dump the fuel at comparatively low cost compared to a PGM, to get back onboard. The tank itself would only be ditched in extremis as they're no longer considered expendable.
The lack of proposed 'options' for the F-35 like this is a little perplexing. Lots have been proposed, no doubt the lack of aircraft for testing and the software development has slowed it down, but you would have thought that whomever gets a compatible tank to market first will make a bundle of sales to every operator going. If they can add in some other features, like a luggage pod section, or a recon or EW pod in the same qualified shape they could stand to make some serious money. I'm not so sure on the conformals that the Israeli's were proposing, or the stealth weapons pods for that matter, they seem an order of magnitude more complex, but its gone very quiet on those.