U.S. Transportation Command Says Air Force Can Retire KC-135 Tankers

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  • 04:26 AM, May 20, 2021
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U.S. Transportation Command Says Air Force Can Retire KC-135 Tankers
U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker

A top official from the U.S. Transportation Command has green-lighted the Air Force’s plans to retire KC-135 Stratotankers owing to their age and incompatibility with today’s aircraft.

Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, commander of Transcom, had earlier advised the service to keep the planes operating for longer when they’d sought to decommissioning them to make way for new refueling aircraft. "At that time, the ... implications for day-to-day operations were significant," Lyons told lawmakers yesterday before a hearing at the House Armed Services Committee. "Since that time, the United States Air Force has done some incredible work, first to make sure that Boeing is signed up to complete the work that they're under contract to complete. Second, to work through some interim capability releases to allow us to use the KC-46 in operations."

 

U.S. Transportation Command Says Air Force Can Retire KC-135 Tankers

Lyons said that while the KC-46 refueling aircraft is not compatible now with every aircraft that might need to be refueled, it's compatible "across a large portion" of them.

The Air Force has also delayed retirement of some KC-10 Extender aircraft, Lyons said. And this puts Transcom in a good position, Lyons added.

"I really appreciate the support of the Air Force," Lyons said. "I've talked to the chief about this, I think we're in a very good place. I do think it's the right decision to allow the Air Force to retire the KC-135s that they requested to retire."

U.S. Transportation Command Says Air Force Can Retire KC-135 Tankers
C-17 Globemaster III is piloted close to a KC-46 Pegasus during a refueling training flight.

Transcom is also responsible for the movement of household goods when service members make a permanent change of station. To better serve customers there, Lyons told lawmakers, improvements are underway to better assess how customers rate their experiences with the contract movers Transcom uses to move service members. Right now, less than a third of customers respond to post-move surveys.

"When we look at the survey information that comes in, our estimate is about 30% of the customers ... respond on surveys," Lyons said. "My guess is we get both extremes. But we could do better in that population. We have taken initiative and have put a company under contract to improve our survey process, and that's underway at the moment ... to make sure it's more accurate, more thorough, easy, and the analytics on the backend are more meaningful to drive better business decisions. That's one of many initiatives in the area of defense personal property reform."

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