AIR FORCE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB United States
Since 1998 the USAF tanker fleet has decreased by 155 aircraft, with the additional anticipated retirement of the equivalent of 201 KC-135 tankers by 2029. Meanwhile, the new KC-46A is scheduled to replace only 179 boom-equipped tankers by 2029, resulting in a total decrease of 131 aircraft which corresponds to a reduction of 24.5 percent in total air refueling fuel capacity in just over three decades. This research examines historical tanker training requests, drawn from the 618th AOCs Air Refueling Scheduling Tool ARST, and uses multiple forecasting techniques, including autoregressive integrated moving average ARIMA models, in order to create a model for predicting future air refueling training demand and communicating that demand in terms of aircraft flight hours. Air refueling remains a supply and demand problem in which there will always be more demand than the ability to supply with any realistically sized tanker fleet. The ability to understand, predict, and prepare for increased air refueling demand holds real value to planners, tanker units, and receiver units. This research is a first step in more clearly understanding unsupported air refueling training demand in terms of tanker aircraft flight hours.