The 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, a KC-135 tanker unit operating from an air base in Southwest Asia, is currently the only unit refueling US military aircraft over Iraq. Further, it conducts about half of all aerial refuelings over Afghanistan. “[With] the amount of infrastructure we have here, based on the size of the operation, it’s pretty amazing we’re able to sustain it,” said Lt. Col. Michael Frymire, 340th EARS commander. He added, “The volume of work all these folks do is just unbelievable.” The unit has more than 30 KC-135s right now and nearly 50 aircrews, said Frymire. The squadron’s airmen are a mix of active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve personnel. Frymire credited the members of the 340th Aircraft Maintenance Unit for doing “amazing” work in keeping the KC-135s mission-ready. (379th AEW report by SSgt. Kelly White)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.