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It’s Just Nine Percent: Can the Air Force say for certain that it will have a replacement tanker in production before the risk of retiring 114 KC-135Es “becomes untenable”? That is the question posed by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) to the service’s top uniformed leader Wednesday. Gen. Michael Moseley explained that USAF planned to distribute the E model crews across the service, upgrading them to R models and enabling the service to generate more R model sorties. Moseley noted that the past and current commanders of US Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command believe that retiring the KC-135Es would only produce a “nine percent degrade in total offload.” And, the Chief of Staff pointed out that the Air Force does not fly the E model tankers in Southwest Asia because they’re “less reliable, … carry less of a load, [because] the engines are such that you can’t lift the weight.”