KC-135s supporting the US Central Command from Al Udeid AB, Qatar, set a flying-hour record by exceeding 100,000 hours refueling US and coalition aircraft in 2015. “We provide refueling to every flying unit in the area of responsibility, which is Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and [we] supported 12 coalition nations,” 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron operations director Lt. Col. James Murray said in a release. “Imagine 12 airplanes flying 24 hours a day, it’s incredible,” he added. The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing flew a combined 103,419 hours, completing more than 20,000 sorties, and offloading some 700 million pounds of fuel supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel, according to a second release. The 379th AEW operates the Air Force’s largest KC-135 fleet totaling 60 aircraft and recently activated a second squadron, the 22nd EARS, back in July.
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.