Give Him Tankers, Not Airlifters?

USAF Gen. Norton Schwartz, head of US Transportation Command, has a new perspective on recapitalizing air mobility—swap new C-17s for new tankers. Schwartz has said in two recent news media interviews that, given the current budget environment, he would go with new tankers over more C-17s because the tankers can double up as airlifters and he can lease cargo aircraft. His view is the polar opposite of that of his predecessor, now retired Gen. John Handy, who maintained that the Pentagon needed 222 new C-17s to meet its mobility requirements. We are still awaiting the public release of the Mobility Capabilities Study, but the word is that it, too, says the currently planned buy of 180 C-17s is enough—turning upside down the previous mobility review. The Senate has voted to authorize 42 more, but John McCain strongly opposes the measure.