Wishful Thinking

New KC-X tanker aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory today would make the enormous task of surging more US troops into Afghanistan by mid 2010 and then sustaining the entire force there easier, says USAF Gen. Duncan McNabb, US Transportation Command head. The KC-X, as the Air Force envisions it, would be “a very efficient cargo and passenger carrier” in the war zone, in addition to its primary aerial refueling tasks, due to its “floors, doors, and defensive systems,” McNabb told defense reporters Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Instead of having to fly commercial aircraft, which lack defensive systems, into outlying places like Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan, and then transloading their passengers and palletized cargo onto military transports for delivery into Afghanistan, KC-X aircraft could move them directly there, thereby preserving C-17 transports for moving “rolling stock” military equipment, he said. (For more from McNabb, read Polar Route.)