Meeting the Tanker Demand

Air Mobility Command chief Gen. Carlton Everhart reiterated his calls for leaps in tanker numbers and technology Tuesday. Speaking at the National Defense Transportation Association fall meeting in St. Louis, Everhart said the KC-46 program is “doing very well,” noting the C-17 program “was not without its fits and starts.” But the service needs more than the approved 179 aircraft to meet the demand, he said. And to get there, Everhart wants to jump straight from the KC-X—the KC-46 Pegasus—to a technologically advanced KC-Z, rather than continue with the planned KC-Y competed tanker acquisition program to recapitalize the remainder of the KC-135 fleet. Everhart has speculated on potential KC-Z capabilities, but suggested Tuesday specifics haven’t been formulated. “I didn’t say that I needed a stealth tanker with a laser on it to be able to get us out of dodge, no matter what you read. What I did say is I want a leap in technology,” Everhart said, criticizing some media reports of his comments made during AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber conference in September. “I want to be able to leap to technology 20 years down the road, and I actually want to go straight to the Z. That’s where I want to head as long as our budgets allow us to be able to do so.”