Basing Strategies for Air Refueling Forces in Anti-access/Area-Denial Environments
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB
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This study addresses the challenge of basing air refueling forces in regions marked by scarcities of appropriate airfields and powerful anti-accessarea-denialA2AD threats from regional enemies. In such conflicts, the scale of required tanker deployments likely will overwhelm the number of first-class airfields available to accommodate the airliner-based air refueling aircraft in the United States Air Force fleet. Moreover, tankers based in forward areas will be subject to a wide range of enemy attacks on the ground and in the air. Consequently, this study begins by discussing the nature of the threats posed to forward-based air refueling units by modern A2AD systems and then examines various basing concepts to mitigate those threats. The basing concepts explored are hardening of aircraft shelters and support facilities, disaggregation of refueling units among prepared bases, and agile disaggregation among more austere base infrastructures. The study also includes discussion of the potential value of introducing a midsized tactical tanker to the fleet able to operate from airfields substantially shorter and more weakly surfaced than these required by the current fleet of modified airliners. The study concludes by recommending greater focus on agile disaggregation, acquisition of a fleet segment of tactical tankers, and directions for further analysis.
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies
- Military Aircraft Operations
- Transport Aircraft