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US Air Force expands 168th Air Refueling Squadron with 4 more KC-135 tankers


The Department of the Air Force plans to increase the size of its existing Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, by adding an active-duty component to the unit.

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US Air Force expands 168th Air Refueling Squadron with 4 more KC 135 tankers A US Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft from the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing refuels from a US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker as another F-16 waits in formation (Picture source: US Air Force)


The department plans to add four additional KC-135s and up to 220 additional active duty personnel making it a total force unit and increasing the squadron’s total KC-135 aircraft to 12. The personnel will be reassigned from within the Air Force.

The expansion of the tanker force in Alaska supports the 2019 Department of Defense Arctic Strategy by addressing the new and emerging threats in the Asia-Pacific region.

The strategy outlines the department’s role and efforts to optimize Air and Space Force capabilities throughout the region in support of the National Defense Strategy by defending the homeland, competing when necessary to maintain favorable regional balances of power, and ensuring common domains remain free and open.

The first aircraft is scheduled to arrive in fiscal year 2023, pending the outcome of the required environmental impact analysis.