USAF Tankers Have Long Joint History:

Air Force KC-135s have been providing refueling services for the Navy and Marine Corps since the Vietnam War, but the joint mission really took hold in Desert Storm. During the first Gulf War, 20 percent of USAF’s total aerial refueling sorties were solely Navy refueling missions, says retired Maj. Gen. John Becker, who had commanded 15th Air Force, supplying half of the Air Force’s air mobility assets. Becker, speaking at an AFA-sponsored Capital Hill luncheon Friday, noted that the Navy can convert F-18E/Fs to serve as “buddy tankers”—but realized it could benefit if the Air Force provided most Navy air refueling needs. Air Force KC-135 are on hand to refuel Navy fighters as they launch from carriers because the fighters burn 40 percent of their fuel capacity during take-off, remarked Becker. He pointed out that Air Force requirements for its new KC-X tanker call for three drogue baskets as well as USAF’s standard boom option to facilitate Navy and coalition refueling.