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The Air Force Wants To Keep The KC-135 Flying For 100 Years
A smaller Air Force with aging aircraft plans to fly its KC-135 refueling tankers — eight of which are operated by the Hawaii Air National Guard at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam — for another 30 to 40 years.
The Boeing four-engine Stratotanker, similar to the 707, celebrated 50 years of flight in 2006. To put its longevity into perspective, the tankers replaced the propeller-driven KC-97, which couldn’t keep up with fighter jets and bombers.
Gen. Carlton Everhart, who stepped down as head of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command in September, said last year that “we face serious challenges within our fleet and our Air Force.”
“The nation faces a resurgent Russia and a rising power in China, with new warfighting approaches and ultra-modern weapons,” Everhart told a defense writers group. “Yet we are projected to fly the KC-135 until it’s at least 100 years old before I can get that airplane totally replaced with a new tanker.”
A new report by the Congressional Budget Office said the Air Force has about 5,600 aircraft ranging in age from just-delivered to 60 years old.
“Many of those aircraft — including the costly-to-replace F-16C/D, F-15C/D fighters, F-15E multirole fighters, C-130 cargo aircraft and B-1B bombers — are nearing the end of their service life,” the budget office said.
The Heritage Foundation said in an October report that Air Force capacity, in terms of the number of aircraft it has, has been on a constant downward slope since 1952.
“Adversaries are modernizing and innovating faster than the Air Force is, jeopardizing America’s technological advantage in air and space,” the foundation said.
According to the group, that capacity loss has included reductions in cargo-carrying and older fighter aircraft to ensure the Air Force’s top three modernization programs — the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, Long-Range Strike Bomber and new KC-46 refueling tankers — are preserved.
Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors fly next to a KC-135 Stratotanker, assigned to the 434th Air Refueling Wing, Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., after conducting aerial refueling over the continental United States, Aug. 21, 2018, during the Northern Lightning 18-2 exerciseU.S. Air National Guard/ech. Sgt. Mary E. Greenwood
The Air Force plans to keep its fleet of about 400 KC-135 tanker-transports flying for decades more even as it is about to bring into service the new KC-46 refueling tanker, based on a Boeing 767, but in numbers less than expected due to budget cuts and cost overruns.
A total of 179 of the new refueling tankers are anticipated to eventually replace about a third of its aging refueler fleet comprised mostly of KC-135s, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The KC-135s may even refuel the new KC-46s to extend the air bridge for other aircraft, the Air Force said.
As part of budget cuts, the Air Force in 2014 announced that four KC-135s and the active-duty 96th Air refueling Squadron would depart Hickam, returning the number of planes to eight from 12 that had been there since 2010.
No major upgrades have been made to the Hickam KC-135s in a couple years, officials said. But Air Force-wide, digital avionics upgrades were installed and testing is under way on a laser countermeasure pod to disable some incoming missiles.
©2018 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.
(Reuters Health) - While army suicides have historically decreased during wartime, that trend appears to have reversed in recent decades, a new study of U.S. records finds.
Researchers poring over nearly 200 years of data found that unlike earlier times when there was a decline in suicide rates among U.S. Army soldiers during and just after wars, the rate has risen significantly since 2004, according to the report in JAMA Network Open.
The Navy relieved a decorated explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer on Thursday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, the Navy announced on Friday.
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who led a Marine task force to Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, said the Washington Post's recent reporting about the U.S. government's pattern of lies about the war over the last two decades is not "revelatory."
Mattis, who was interviewed by the Washington Post's David Ignatius on Friday, also said he does not believe the U.S. government made any efforts to hide the true situation in Afghanistan and he argued the war has not been in vain.
Here are 10 key quotes from Mattis regarding the Washington Post's reporting in the 'Afghanistan Papers.'