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USAF Tackles Tanker Issue: Two senior Air Force officials told members of the House Armed Services Committee last night that the service needs to start soon to replace its Eisenhower-era aerial refueling aircraft because the war on terror is taking its toll on the hardworking KC-135 fleet. This familiar argument was met with some skepticism, however. Several lawmakers referred to recent studies saying the fleet would last until at least 2030 and pointed to statements by Air Force leaders advocating upgrading and re-engining older KC-135s as a viable approach. Lt. Gen. Christopher Kelly, vice commander of Air Mobility Command, said that the situation is evolving. As the KC-135s get older, he said, the service continues to find new things wrong with them, and the cost to fix them keeps going up. Kelly maintained, “The Air Force simply cannot accept the risk of unknown systemic failures that could ground our tanker fleet.” (Read his written testimony here.)