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USAF tanker force nearly 200 aircraft short for conflict with China

2nd August 2022 - 18:00 GMT | by Tim Martin in Belfast

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Boeing has delivered 61 KC-46 tankers to the USAF. (Photo: USAF)

Problems with the USAF's tanker fleet are such that it risks being unable to effectively fight a war with China, according to a leading defence expert.

A defence analyst has told Shephard that the current number of USAF operational tankers sits well below the fleet required to execute a war with China.

Over the next three to four years, ‘viable tankers’ available for USAF operations will be below 400 aircraft and ‘stay there for a while', according to John Venable, senior research fellow, defence policy, in the Center for National Defense at the Heritage Foundation.

That figure falls significantly short of the 580 needed to fight against Beijing's forces in Asia-Pacific, according to Venable. 

Much of the Western Pacific will ‘simply be off limits to tankers', based on

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Tim Martin

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Tim Martin


Tim Martin is Editor, Air for Shephard Media, based in London. 

Tim has experience writing and …

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