TYPE: Medium transport/multirole.
PROGRAMME: Studies under way since early 1995; initially known as 'World Airlifter' and New Strategic Aircraft (NSA). Lockheed Martin's primary objective was to develop a replacement for Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker in-flight refuelling aircraft, Lockheed C-141 StarLifter strategic transport and tanker/transport types such as the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar and McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender, although it is also intended to offer commercial freighter versions as well as special mission aircraft configured for AEW and battlefield surveillance tasks.
Lockheed Martin is proposing to develop the AMA as a private venture and is seeking two or three risk-sharing international partners to form a consortium; past discussions took place with severeal potential partners, including Aerospatiale Matra, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace and BAE Systems.
Recent studies envisage a twin-engined design with high bypass turbofans in the 267 to 311 kN (60,000 to 70,000 lb st) class, an M0.85 cruise speed, with 30 per cent greater fuel offload than the KC-135R/T Stratotanker. In the cargo role, AMA will carry a payload of 45,360 to 54,430 kg (100,000 to 120,000 lb) over 4,000 n miles (7,408 km; 4,603 miles).
Over 40 advanced aircraft designs examined, leading to further study of four basic concepts, all of which feature modular design using common basic structure and systems to reduce initial manufacturing costs and facilitate airframe upgrades during service life. Modular systems and avionics bus architecture will easily accommodate mission-orientated equipment for specific roles. Configurations studied include a conventional high-wing aircraft; a blended wing/body aircraft; a box-wing aircraft with two refuelling booms and two hose-and-drogue assemblies; and a global transport with an unrefuelled range of 12,000 n miles (22,220 km; 13,810 miles).
Design effort directed to the box-wing aircraft concept during 1997-2000, by virtue of aerodynamic and structural efficiency, combined with greatly reduced aircraft size. As recently envisaged, it will have two flight deck crew, plus advanced refuelling and loadmaster workstations; incorporate roll-on/roll-off cargo handling capability and be compatible with 20 and 40 ft ISO containers; and embody fly-by-light/power-by-wire flight control systems. Testing of radio-controlled scale model began on 7 March 1997, this exhibiting excellent flight characteristics and meeting, or surpassing, test objectives during a total of 18 sorties.
Current planning expects AMA development effort to reach a peak during 2004-13, with resultant production aircraft ready for delivery from 2013; however, USAF purchase seems less likely in view of decision to acquire Boeing KC-767 tanker on lease. No recent news received.