Most warfighters believe that the Boeing tanker is also better suited to the core mission. Its Boeing 767 airframe is smaller and lighter than the oversized EADS Airbus 330 tanker, making it more maneuverable in the air and allowing it to take off and land in up to 20 percent more airfields worldwide. Fewer usable airfields would increase the time our military aircraft would need to remain in the air waiting to be refueled, potentially jeopardizing both mission objectives and pilot safety. However, if the Air Force ends up rebidding the tanker contract with cargo capacity as an additional criterion, Boeing has put forth its 777. The 777 can not only fulfill that role, but is so much lighter and has such a greater range than the Airbus 330 that it virtually renders the Airbus 330 obsolete.
And as a former Marine, I can tell you that close air support is something every soldier counts on. So, getting a fleet of tankers that is most capable of being in the right place at the right time is the warfighters' bottom line. The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker has been serving our nation for more than 50 years - the last being purchased by the Air Force in 1965. If it were a car, President Barack Obama and Congress would be tripping over themselves to get it off the road and replaced with the very best solution the auto industry has to offer.
The same urgency and prudence should be afforded the refueling tanker.
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