Conformal fuel tank
Conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) are additional fuel tanks fitted closely to the profile of an aircraft that extend either the range or "time on station" of the aircraft. CFTs have a reduced aerodynamic penalty compared to external drop tanks, and do not significantly increase an aircraft's radar cross-section. Another advantage of CFTs provide is that they do not occupy ordnance hardpoints like drop tanks, allowing the aircraft to carry its full payload.
Conformal fuel tanks have the disadvantage that, unlike drop tanks, they cannot be discarded in flight, because they are plumbed into the aircraft and so can only be removed on the ground. As a result, they will impose a slight drag-penalty and minor weight gain on the aircraft even when the tanks are empty, without any benefit. They can also impose slight g-load limits, although not always an absolute issue, the CFTs on the F-15E actually allow the same maneuverability without g-limitations.
Conformal fuel tanks
- F-15C entered service with CFT capability. Initially known as FAST packs (Fuel And Sensor Tactical), each unit carried an additional 849 US gallons (3,213.8 L) of fuel, while retaining hardpoints for four AIM-7F Sparrow missiles or bombs, some on the FAST packs. They were first tested on the F-15B in 1974. All U.S. F-15Es, and Strike Eagle export variants such as the Israeli and Singapore models, are fitted with CFTs under the wing outside the engine intake and require modification to fly without them. The FAST pack was originally intended to carry a navigational and targeting infrared sensor system (thus "Fuel And Sensor"); however, the F-15 simply began carrying LANTIRN pods for ground-attack missions instead.
- Export aircraft for Greece, Chile, Israel, Poland, Pakistan, Turkey, Singapore, Morocco, Egypt and the UAE are plumbed for carriage of two CFTs mounted on top of the aircraft near the wing root. Each is capable of holding 450 US gallons (1,703.4 L)
- Two 1,150 litres (300 US gal) CFTs were first tested by Dassault in April 2001.
- Wind tunnel tested by BAE, two CFTs with 1,500 litres (400 US gal) capacity.
- The F-CK-1D prototype ("Brave Hawk") and the F-CK-1C single-seater prototype are equipped with the new CFTs. The prototype Indigenous Defence Fighter II “Goshawk” has over-wing CFTs.
- Conformal fuel tanks are mounted above the wings to replace the drag of underwing tanks. Combined, they carry 3,500 lb of extra fuel, while adding extra lift and expanding combat radius by 260 nmi with a small transonic acceleration penalty.
- Wind Tunnel tested by Chengdu.
- Conformal fuel tanks were installed on the wingtips.
Distended internal tanks
Distended internal tanks are fuel tanks that create a bulge from the fuselage or are mounted flush with the fuselage.
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