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Tanker Fuel Consolidation: Effects of Higher Fidelity Modeling on a Resilient Plan
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH GRADUATE SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING AND MANAGEMENT
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The U.S. Air Force USAF has selected the KC-46 to begin replacing the aged KC-135 fleet. One of the major differences between the KC-46 and the KC-135 is the KC-46s ability to be refueled. This allows for tanker fuel consolidation, or the refueling of one tanker by another. The effects of this capability on the efficiency of tanker operations must be quantified and included in determining an appropriate substitution ratio between the two aircraft. This ratio will be used to plan the retirement of KC-135s as the KC-46 enters operational fielding. This study utilizes simulation to determine the efficiencies gained by consolidation while maintaining a desired operational resiliency. The time fidelity of the model was also increased to determine the effects on the results. Air Mobility Commands AMC Analysis and Assessments Division AMCA9 provided a problem set for the simulation. The results of the study show that the largest benefit is realized by the ability of the tankers to transition between altitudes within a refueling track, rather than being restricted to the same altitude as is done in current models. Tanker consolidation and the increased time fidelity did not provide statistically different results. The effects stated in previous studies focused on post-mission data, not planning data. The lack of a significant decrease in the number of aircraft required shows that the benefits of tanker consolidation are much greater when it is used as an execution tool, rather than a planning tool. While the number of aircraft required in execution may be significantly decreased, the number required to meet the planning requirements is not.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE