TRANSCOM: Air Refueling Assets Stressed

US Transportation Command has seen a decrease in the operations tempo for air mobility, but that has not extended to its air refueling fleet, which is still stressed and “at a point near bending,” said TRANSCOM boss Air Force Gen. Darren McDew on Tuesday. Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee readiness panel, McDew said ?his airlift fleet has seen a slight drop in operations tempo as the requirement in Afghanistan has dropped, however KC-135s and KC-10s are in constant demand around the world, especially in the Middle East. As of the end of February, coalition air refueling aircraft have flown 2,143 sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, conducting 14,373 refueling operations, according to Air Forces Central Command statistics. “The first one that will come to be a limiting factor is our air refueling fleet . . . because we’re using it so heavily right now in the Central Command region,” McDew said. “The current pace of today’s operations requires the full effort of our non-mobilized air refueling and airlift fleets. Should the need arise to respond elsewhere in the world, the mobility resources required could exceed existing capacity.”