More on Flying Gas Stations
KC-135 refills B2. Source: USAF
On January 26, 2008 the first nighttime refueling accomplished on a Boeing KC-767 (to an F-15E). Its fifth-generation, fly-by-wire boom (a telescoping tube used to deliver fuel to military aircraft) to an F-15E 11 times during dusk and night conditions and successfully offloaded fuel before returning safely.
March 27, 2008: AirTanker announced to have signed a 27-year contract with the UK Ministry of Defence for the provision of an advanced Air to Air Refueling and Air Transport capability for the UK’s Royal Air Force. The AirTanker consortium will be providing a fleet of 14 new Airbus A330-200 Air-to-Air Refueling and Air Transport aircraft which will come into service from 2011, replacing the RAF’s current fleet of 19 VC-10 and 9 TriStar aircraft.
The Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft contract raised a financing of approximately £2.5 billion (5 billion US dollars) and represents world’s largest ever Defense Private Finance Initiative program.
The A330 tanker derivative has around twice the refueling capability of the current VC-10s, and will be able to offload 60 tonnes of fuel at 1,000 miles from base, whilst remaining 2 hours on station. The A300-200 aircraft will be owned and supported by AirTanker while the service will be staffed by a mixture of service and civilian personnel.
The fuel necessary for refueling operations, as well as for the A330 FSTA itself, will be carried in the same tanks as fitted to the standard Airbus A330 airliner, leaving the cabin free for transporting up to 290 personnel, and the cargo holds free to carry equipment and supplies up to a maximum total payload of 44 tonnes. With no reconfiguration required (other than for specialist medical evacuations) the tanker can be assigned quickly to a wider range of missions than the existing fleet, significantly enhancing fleet productivity. A number of the aircraft will be operated on the civil register flying commercial Air Transport tasks when not subject to operational requirements, thereby enabling greater productivity for the fleet. Within the PFI agreement, the MoD will only pay for the service once it is available and then only for the capacity that it uses, subject to agreed minimum usage levels.
March 31, 2008: A Press Release from the US Transportation Command on March 31, 2008 stated that Department of Defense ‘goes live’ with 3rd party transportation management service. According to the Press Release the Defense Transportation Coordination Initiative (DTCI), a third party transportation management services partnership for shipment of military freight, went ‘live’ with operations in Puget Sound, Wash. This is the first time government shippers are using DTCI to ship freight and marks the beginning of the first of three phases aimed at managing Department of Defense freight movements in the continental United States.
 Boeing has built nearly 2,000 tankers in its history and is under contract to build four KC-767s for Japan. The JASDF has selected the convertible freighter configuration, which will provide flexibility in carrying cargo or passengers, while maintaining its primary role as an aerial tanker. Boeing also is building four KC-767s for Italy with delivery of the first two tankers in the second quarter of 2008.
 A military derivative of the proven 767-200 commercial airplane.
 The F-35 carries a prodigious amount of internal fuel more than 18,000 pounds giving it exceptionally long range without external tanks, and dramatically reducing its need for tanker support. The internal-fuel configuration enables F-35to remain stealthy by avoiding external tank carriage typically used by legacy fighters to extend range. Drop tanks reflect radar energy and can betray an aircraft’s location. Operating without drop tanks also frees more stations for external weapons carriage when stealth is not required to fulfill mission objectives.