Meet the LMXT: Lockheed Martin’s proposal for America's Next Strategic Tanker (based on Airbus A330 MRTT)

Meet the LMXT: Lockheed Martin’s proposal for America’s Next Strategic Tanker (based on Airbus A330 MRTT)

By Dario Leone
Sep 20 2021
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The LMXT, the new Lockheed Martin strategic tanker, builds on the combat-proven design of the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).

Offered in response to the US Air Force’s KC-Y Program, the LMXT complements the US Air Force’s tanker capabilities by providing the most advanced aerial refueler to meet America’s immediate and long-term mission requirements.

“Lockheed Martin has a long and successful track record of producing aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, and we understand the critical role tankers play in ensuring America’s total mission success,” said Greg Ulmer, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, in a company news release. “The LMXT combines proven performance and operator-specific capabilities to meet the Air Force’s refueling requirements in support of America’s National Defense Strategy.”

As the video in this post shows, the LMXT offers a proven airframe with distinct US Air Force-only capabilities designed to meet operator requirements, with advantages that include:

  • Significantly improved range and fuel offload capacity
  • A proven fly-by-wire boom currently certified and used by allies to refuel US Air Force receiver aircraft in operations around the world
  • The world’s first fully automatic boom/air-to-air refueling (A3R) system
  • Operational and combat proven advanced camera and vision system
  • Open system architecture JADC2 systems
  • A multi-domain operations node that connects the LMXT to the larger battlespace, increasing onboard situational awareness to provide resilient communications and datalink for assets across the force

The Lockheed Martin strategic tanker builds on the combat-proven design of the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). As the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin works directly to implement US Air Force-specific requirements within the LMXT. As the strategic tanker of choice for 13 nations, the MRTT has logged more than 250,000 flight hours refueling US and allied fighter, transport and maritime patrol aircraft (Current receiver air refueling certifications for tanker airframe: F-35A, F-22, F-16, A-10, B-1B, C-17, E-3, E-7, F-15, P-8A) in combat theater environments.

The LMXT’s capabilities seamlessly recapitalize tankers with immediately improved air refueling, increased fuel offload at range, and proven combat capability to support multiple mission requirements. From day one, the LMXT will be capable of accomplishing the full range of missions demanded of air refueling aircraft.

Noteworthy a version of the A330 MRTT, the EADS/Northrop Grumman KC-45, was proposed to the US Air Force (USAF) for its aerial tanker replacement program and selected on Feb. 29, 2008, but the program was cancelled. The USAF had ordered 179 KC-45As in the first stage of replacing the aging Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker tankers currently in service. However, the contest was reopened in July 2008, after Boeing’s protest of the award was upheld. In response to the new contest, on Mar. 8, 2010, Northrop Grumman announced it was abandoning its bid for the new contract, with its CEO stating that the revised bid requirement favoured Boeing. On Apr. 20, 2010, EADS (now known as Airbus SE) announced it was re-entering the competition and entered a bid with the KC-45. Eventually, the USAF selected the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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