Naval Air: March 28, 2003


The U.S. Navy has found a very practical solution to the problem of keeping aircraft in the air over a combat zone. Since there is still a lot of enemy anti-aircraft weapons on the ground in Iraq, they cannot send tankers over Iraq to refuel fighter-bombers circling and waiting for the ground troops to request a bomb or two. So they loaded up F-18Es with five one ton fuel tanks instead of bombs, rigged a refueling line to it and the F-18 tankers were able to deliver twice as much fuel as the unarmed S-3 tankers that normally do the refueling in less hostile airspace. Normally, an F-18 carries about five tons of fuel internally. The F-18 Tanker carries enough fuel to keep two or three F-18s in the air long enough to drop their bombs, and get back to friendly territory for another refueling and then on to land on a carrier in the Persian Gulf. 


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