The vulnerability of tankers worries the US Air Force

There are no hunters without supply vessels! This sentence "No fighters Without Tankers" alone sums up one of the main doctrines of the US Air Force over the past 60 years. Indeed, with the Vietnam War, the United States, and in particular the US Air Force, understood the determining role of these devices, but also of electronic intelligence planes or air watch planes, to employ most effectively. possible air force. Today, the US Air Force alone operates 614 aircraft specially dedicated to in-flight refueling, representing 77% of all aircraft of this type in the world.

But in order to be able to take advantage of its support planes, and in particular its refuellers, it is essential to obtain absolute mastery of the sky, whether vis-à-vis the opposing fighter aircraft, or its ground systems. long range air. However, the arrival of new Russian aircraft such as the Su-35 and Su-57, or Chinese such as the J-16 or J-20, as well as new long-range air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, constitutes now a very significant threat to American supply ships. And as noted by Will Roper, the "Czar" of US Air Force acquisitions as he is more and more often referred to by the specialist press across the Atlantic, losing a tanker plane also means losing the potential of the tanker. combat devices which had to refuel there. From a force multiplier, a downed supply vessel would then become a force divider, the worst nightmare of military strategies.

The Russian ultra-long-range R37M Air-to-Air missile is designed to strike targets up to 400 km away, although there is no airborne detection and guidance system in Russia today capable of operating at high distances. such distance. It is nonetheless a real threat to NATO support aircraft.

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