Meeting the Tanker Requirement

The Air Force will increase the number of legacy tankers in the reserve component even as it divests the KC-10 Extender in an effort to maintain the requirement of 479 refueling aircraft while it waits for the KC-46A to become operational, according to a new force structure plan released with the Fiscal 2017 budget proposal. Two bases in the reserve component will transfer to the service’s aging KC-135 tanker and a base expecting to receive the KC-46A will lose its Stratotankers. The Air National Guard unit at Selfridge ANGB, Mich., will receive eight KC-135s in 2021 as it retires 21 A-10s, and the Reserve unit at Niagara Falls AFRS, N.Y., will retire eight C-130s and gain eight KC-135s in Fiscal 2017. Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., will lose four of its KC-135 tankers in 2017 and 12 in 2020, while it gains 12 KC-46s in 2020. The Air Force’s force structure plans call for retiring 59 KC-10 Extenders, but it does not detail how the tankers will leave the service. The Air Force’s KC-10 fleet is stationed at Travis AFB, Calif., and JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.