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Tanker hits top of the charts for recapitalization priority

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Oct. 13, 2006) -- The Air Force's new No. 1 procurement priority is the KC-X tanker, replacing the F-22 Raptor.

"Our priorities for procurement are the following," said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley. "The KC-X, the new tanker, is No. 1. CSAR-X, the new combat rescue helicopter, is No. 2. Our space-based early warning and communications satellites are No 3. The F-35 (Lightning II) is No. 4. And the next generation long range strike bomber is No. 5."

During discussions with newspaper reporters here Oct. 12, General Moseley said the F-22 program has stabilized.

The Air Force recently secured multi-year procurement funding for the Raptor from Congress. That funding would affect Raptor purchases until about 2012. Now that the Air Force is secure in the number of Raptors it will purchase, and in the price it will pay for them, it has shifted its procurement priorities, the chief of staff said.

General Moseley said the replacement for the KC-135 Stratotanker has moved up to the top position for procurement priority because of its enabling effect on all other strategic capabilities of the Air Force.

"In this global business we're in, the single point of failure of an air bridge, or the single point failure for global intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or the single point failure for global strike is the tanker," he said. "To be able to bridge the Atlantic, to be able to bridge the Pacific, or to be able to let business in the theater be persistent business in the theater, it's the tanker."