Crimp in the Flow

The Defense Department has temporarily halted aerial refueling operations out of the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. The stand-down was imposed as the US government attempts to renegotiate the price of the locally supplied aviation fuel with the new interim Kyrgyz government. Kyrgyzstan seems to gain more favorable terms. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters Tuesday that the base is “still operational” and flights from Manas continue to ferry military personnel and supplies in and out of Afghanistan. However, Washington has concluded that it needs to conserve fuel as the haggling goes on. KC-135 tankers in the region are not currently using Manas as a stopping point to refuel after they have supported combat aircraft operating over Afghanistan. When the interim government took power in April, it agreed to extend by one year the US lease to Manas, which expires in July. (See AFP report and Associated Press report)