Tanker High-Water Mark

The number of aerial tankers in the US military—ranging from Air Force KC-135s to Marine Corps KC-130s—will peak in Fiscal 2016, according to the Pentagon’s newly issued Aircraft Procurement Plan for 2012-2041. The total tanker inventory will increase from 551 in Fiscal 2012 to 574 in Fiscal 2016, then drop suddenly to a steady-state level of between 535 and 542 aircraft through Fiscal 2021. The numbers reflect the retirement of some of the oldest KC-135s, delivery of USAF’s initial KC-46As, and adjustments to the marines’ inventory. (2011 Aircraft Investment Plan)