Air Force KC-135 and KC-10 tankers offloaded more than 357 million pounds of fuel in the first four months of 2011 to coalition aircraft flying in US Central Command’s area of operations, according to Air Mobility Command officials. That equates to roughly 53 million gallons, or enough fuel to fill an F-16 carrying two external fuel tanks to its capacity “more than 29,750 times,” they stated. If this pace does not decline, the tanker force will deliver more than 1 billion pounds of fuel to thirsty receiver aircraft this year in Southwest Asia. That would be the fourth consecutive year of eclipsing one billion pounds. The record was in 2008 with more than 1.1 billion pounds. Last year, the total was more than 1.05 billion pounds. (Scott report by MSgt. Scott T. Sturkol)
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.