Lockheed Martin pitches LMXT for Bridge Tanker programme

Lockheed Martin has unveiled its offering for the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) KC-Y programme, which will deliver a new tanker and cargo aircraft for the USAF, US Marine Corps, US Navy and other operators around the world.

In a September 17 release, it was disclosed that the aircraft – dubbed the LMXT – will be based on the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), a platform that has logged more than 250,000 flight hours refuelling US and allied fighters, transport and maritime patrol aircraft in active theatres.

Lockheed Martin LMXT
Lockheed Martin is using the established MRTT platform as its solution to the USAF's requirement of a commercial derivative platform to supplement its tanker fleet. Lockheed Martin

It was also disclosed that the aircraft would be manufactured in the US, with specific alterations to accommodate service and operational requirements including improved range and fuel offload capacity, automatic boom/air-to-air refuelling system, and joint all domain command and control (JADC2) architecture.

The USAF formally launched its KC-Y programme in June this year, intended to source a commercial derivative tanker aircraft to supplement its Boeing KC-46A Pegasus fleet from 2029. The existing KC-46A firm-fixed price contract is limited to 13 production lots, with the last planned procurement in 2027 and delivered in 2029.

In a release at the time, the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center said that as the platform would be a commercial derivative aircraft, the Bridge Tanker would be based on “existing and emerging” technologies and would not include stealth or unmanned capabilities. It was stated that a final Request for Proposal would be issued by the end of 2022.

The current KC-135 Stratotanker will be 70 years old by the time the USAF receives its last KC-46 delivery in 2029.