Air Force Could Retirement KC-135, Transcom Commander Says

boeing kc-135 stratotanker
Boeing kc-135 stratotanker

Militarymedia.net - US Transportation Command is responsible for moving people and materials around the world to support national defense needs. It relies, in part, on using Air Force aircraft to do that.

While the Air Force hoped to retire some of the planes in its KC-135 Stratotanker fleet to make way for the new, pending KC-46 Pegasus refueling aircraft, Army General Stephen R. Lyons, commander of Transcom, thought it was not advisable. But that's no longer the case.

"At the time, ... the implications for day-to-day operations were significant," Lyons told lawmakers yesterday before a hearing on the House Armed Services Committee. “Since then, the United States Air Force has done some outstanding work, first to ensure that Boeing has signed up to complete the work they were contracted to complete. Second, to work through some temporary capability releases to allow us to use the KC-46 in operations."

Lyons said that while the KC-46 refueling aircraft is not compatible now with every aircraft that may need to be refueled, it is compatible "in most" of them.

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

"I really appreciate the Air Force's support," said Lyons. "I've spoken to the chief about this, I think we are in a very good place. I think it was the right decision to allow the Air Force to retire the KC-135 they asked to retire."

Transcom is also responsible for the movement of household items when service members make permanent station changes. To better serve customers there, Lyons told lawmakers, improvements are being made to better assess how customers rate their experience with the contract drivers that Transcom uses to move service members. Today, less than a third of customers respond to post-move surveys.

KC-135 stratotanker
KC-135 stratotanker
"When we look at the survey information that comes in, our estimate is that around 30% of customers ... responded to surveys," Lyons said. "My guess is we get to both extremes. But we can do better in that population. We've taken the initiative and have put a company under contract to improve our survey process, and it's ongoing at the moment... to make sure it's more Accurate, more thorough, easy, and analytics on the back is more meaningful to drive better business decisions. It's one of many initiatives in the area of ​​defense private property reform."
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