Support: December 22, 2001


The Air Force is rapidly wearing out the tanker crews flying missions near Afghanistan. Due to budget cuts in the previous Administration, the deployed tankers have only one crew, so every time the tanker flies, the crew flies. The Air Force would rather have two crews for each tanker to avoid stress. The long range involved (particularly for Navy planes coming from carriers) has required far more tanker support than any previous war. Give the cost of flying and the cost of tanker support, each JDAM dropped in Afghanistan by an F-16 (which can carry two) costs $14,800, but a B-1 (which carries 24) can deliver them to targets for $3,690 each, and a B-52 (which carries a dozen) for $5,120 each. The B-2 was taken out of the bombing lineup because the tanker support for the long flights from the US pushed the cost per bomb to $7,540 each.--Stephen V Cole


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