Shock and Awe Tanker Shortfalls

Welcome back to the Lessons from the Cockpit and the sixty-seventh episode of  podcast! 

In preparation for attending the Tailhook 2023 symposium, I felt this was a good time to do an episode on the air refueling shortfalls during the Shock and Awe air campaign in March through April 2003. In my book Tanker Pilot, the chapter Six Weeks in Hell speaks to the issues the Air Refueling Control Team overcame to make the 1003 Victor war plan executable. This is a more indepth discussion on refueling shortfalls compared to what was accomplished in Desert Storm based on the Gulf War Airpower Survey written after the Desert Storm air campaign ended.

The Lessons from the Cockpit show is supported and fiananced by the book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, found in all four formats on Amazon; hardback, softback (black and white photos!), Kindle and Audible. The Kindle and Audible versions have the thirty-two pictures in an extra file when you download the book.

Detailed aircraft profiles of Operation Iraqi Freedom aircraft are available from Wall Pilot, custom aviation art for the walls of your home, office, or hanger. These profiles are printed on vinyl in four, six, and eight-foot-long graphics you can stick to any flat surface.

The KC-10 Extender is called the “Gucci Bird” because of its versatility to refuel Boom or Drogue receivers. The KC-10 is also air refuelable… you can fill it back up. Most of the fighters deploying to the Middle East traveled there behind a KC-10.

The KC-135 Stratotanker has been the air refueling workhorse around the world. I was based at Kadena Air Base for five great years, the best flying job I had during my Air Force career.

The F-15C Eagle was deployed to the Middle East for Operation Iraqi Freedom, but they had a boring war as no Iraqi Air Force fighters flew offensive or defensive combat air patrols. All F-15Cs were sent home about half way through the war because we needed the gas!

F-15E Strike Eagles were tasked with a range of missions from Close Air Support to Strike Coordination and Reconnaissance (SCAR) missions destroying the Iraqi Republican Guard.

Thanks for downloading and listening to this episode of the Lessons from the Cockpit podcast. This and additional episodes of the Lessons from the Cockpit podcast can be downloaded from my website at

Next week’s episode will be with a former Iranian Air Force Colonel who planned and flew one of the longest strike missions during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

Check out this episode!

Mark Hasara

Have a great Day!

Sluggo Sends!

P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here, I read them all.

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