The Pentagon in general would be wise to contract out far more of its aerial tanker needs.
The USAF has been especially resistant to doing so, likely do to fear that they would eventually lose large parts of the aerial refueling mission set to private contractors, and this means having fewer aircraft under its purview.
As the KC-46A comes online, it will be a great time for potential commercial tanker services providers to absorb retiring KC-135Rs, or introduce new platforms depending on what their customers want.
Even smaller tankers, like those based on the 737 or G550, can fulfill many missions where large tankers simply are not needed, and do so at a far lower cost.
As such, the Tristars offer enhanced reliability, not to mention they can hold a whopping 300,000lbs of gas.
It is also possible that Tempus may add two additional refueling pods to their Tristar's outer wing areas, allowing for three aircraft to refuel simultaneously instead of one.
This configuration allows for only one aircraft to be refueled at a time, with the other hose and drogue system acting as a spare.
It is not uncommon for aircraft to break off a drogue "basket" or for other refueling components to fail, which would often result in a emergency divert by thirsty aircraft if no other tankers were nearby.These missions can tie up USAF tankers for days at a time, and thirsty fighters like the F-35B will only require more of this type of support in the future."We are very encouraged to have found a potential solution for the shortage of AAR services that currently exist within the US Navy and Marine Corps tactical aviation and many NATO/Allied air forces.Three Tristars would represent a substantial private aerial refueling capability that the US Navy, USMC, or other foreign air arms with aircraft that use probe and drogue tanking to take advantage of.For the Navy and USMC in particular, the Tristars could offload up some of NAVAIR's tanking demand off the USAF's shoulders.Tristars have all but disappeared from the sky, with Orbital ATK's "Stargazer" launch ship being the only one still operating in the United States.