- 22 ноября, 18:35
- The National Interest
Vital for extending the range of U.S. fighters.
Key point: Tankers are necessary for long-range missions.
The first new, high-tech next-generation KC-46A aerial refueling tanker will be delivered to the service later this year, marking the beginning of a long-sought after effort to replace the current aging fleet and better enable attack and ISR missions around the globe, service officials say.
A new tanker, which will of course modernize and sustain the refueling mission for the Air Force, is fundamental to the service’s air superiority and rapid deployability priorities.
The new KC-46A tanker will build upon the mission current tankers currently serve, meaning it will be forward- stationed at strategically vital locations around the globe to increase mission length and effectiveness, as needed, for a wide-range of aircraft, Air Force developers said.
Extending the strike range of attack aircraft such as an F-15, F-35 or F-22 brings great tactical significance in a modern threat environment wherein long range strike weapons used by potential adversaries could make it challenging for the Air Force to base and launch fighters within the proper striking proximity. Such a dynamic may be of particular relevance in places like the Pacific, where a much-discussed "tryanny of distance" imposed by the region's geographical expanse can make attack mission access much more challeng
Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Emily Grabowski said the Air Force and Boeing recently completed a schedule risk assessment, and found that extended time needed for ongoing testing will delay the delivery of the first tanker by several months to close to the end of this year. The Air Force plans to acquire the new tankers will into the late 2020s.
“This assessment is based on known risks and predicted impacts associated with airworthiness certifications and slower than expected flight test execution. The Air Force will continue to work with Boeing to develop schedule mitigations, where appropriate, to expedite the program,” Grabowski said.
The Air Force’s multi-year tanker procurement effort, regarded and protected as a high priority from service and Pentagon leaders, is described as a needed asset to replace the aging current fleet of tankers. The average KC 135 is about 50 years old and the average KC 10 tanker is roughly 29 years old, Air Force officials said.,
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