Some of the 560 new troops headed to Iraq will rebuild the airfield at the newly retaken town of Qayyarah so US and Iraqi aircraft can use it as a staging point for the fight on Mosul. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said earlier this week the new deployment would build on momentum gained by Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS, including retaking the key airfield south of Mosul. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said Thursday the coalition will work to improve the runway at the airfield so “both cargo and other aircraft” can use it as a launching pad to Mosul. Cook said he would not “get into what aircraft would be there or not” but he did not rule out the possibility of US F-16s deploying there.
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.