"American power can be projected quickly anywhere on the earth as a result of the Air Force’s ability to fly air refueling tankers and cargo planes globally on short notice. It provides swift deployment, in-flight refueling, and the means of sustaining operations from major combat to humanitarian relief."
- Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, USAF
During World War II, the U.S. Army Air Forces projected American military air power around the world, and much of its success came through the creation of an efficient airlift system. However, the introduction of jet aircraft, missiles and other advanced technologies toward the end of the war changed everything. The postwar leaders of the newly created U.S. Air Force recognized that any future conflicts or humanitarian efforts would require a rapid, global capability.
Since WWII, the USAF has created an unequaled global reach capability based on both airlift and air refueling. Airlift provides the most rapid way to deploy American military power around the world. Air refueling increases the range and payloads of airlift, combat and combat support aircraft.
Rapid global mobility is one of the Air Force’s enduring core missions. Air Force airlift moves passengers and cargo, performs aeromedical evacuation and supports special operations. Air Force air refueling makes long-range nuclear operations, global strike missions, aircraft deployments and special operations missions possible. Furthermore, air refueling supports the sustainment of “airbridges” between the continental United States and the rest of the world. Together, the U.S. Air Force’s airlift and air refueling capabilities play critical roles in providing Global Vigilance, Global Reach and Global Power for America.
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