Support: August 29, 2002


The first air attacks on Afghanistan in October, 2001 were not possible without five U.S. Air force air-to-air refueling aircraft. Each of the five KC-10s can carry a maximum of 175 tons of fuel, and the five KC-10s flew eight sorties the night of October 7th, refueling navy carrier aircraft that dropped most of the bombs the first week. In 44 hours, those tankers performed 186 refueling. The navy F-18s have notoriously skimpy fuel capacity, something the aircraft has long been criticized for. The war in Afghanistan required navy warplanes to fly long distances not seen since World War II. Without the air force tankers, the carrier strikes would have been less than half of what they were, because the navy just doesn't have that many aerial tankers. Because most U.S. aerial tankers belong to the air force, the navy and special operations command aircraft that refuel in the air have to argue with mainline air force units that want first dibs on tankers. It's a constant struggle and a major headache for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense. No solution is in sight.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close