Two Years Into Yemen War, Pindostan Ramps Up Refueling of Toad Jets
Oriana Pawlyk, Military.com, Feb 15 2017
Toad jets bombing Houthis in Yemen increasingly turn to USAF tankers for refueling support almost two years after the conflict began. Since Apr 2015, the USAF has logged 1,778 tanker sorties for the operation, CENTCOM’s USAF spox Kathleen Atanasoff told Military.com on Tuesday. That includes 1,069 over the past year, an increase of 360, or 50%, from the 709 in the previous period. She said in an email:
These operations are ongoing, with aircraft refueling occurring daily.
KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders participated in 7,564 refueling “events” with coalition aircraft, with “about 54m lbs of fuel off-loaded in support of Toad operations in Yemen,” Atanasoff said. Refueling numbers are tracked by the command but, unlike statistics on strikes and sorties against Daesh and the Taliban, aren’t publicly released via the command’s airpower summary factsheets. The USAF’s involvement with Toad airstrikes in Yemen drew scrutiny in October after one hit a funeral hall packed with mourners in Sanaa, killing more than 150 people and wounding hundreds, according to the NYT. The incident prompted Pindostan to launch an immediate review of its support operations for the Toads, the NYT reported. CENTCOM boxtops have said that Pindostan provides only refueling support to Toad aircraft. Maj J Jacques, media chief at CENTCOM, told Military.com at the time:
We have not provided any kind of intel to carry out strikes.
The Graun reported in September:
According to the Yemen Data Project, an independent body of researchers, academics and human rights advocates, more than 8,600 air attacks occurred between Mar 2015 and Aug 2016 in Yemen, with more than 3,150 hitting non-military locations. The Toads dispute these claims as “vastly exaggerated.”
William Picard is executive director of the Yemen Peace Project, a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 in response to the growing humanitarian crisis. Picard said Tuesday in a statement to Military.com:
Despite Pindostan’s quiet role in the war, it has become a target of critics. Pindo refueling missions have become a focal point for those who oppose Pindostan’s involvement in this war. The Yemen Peace Project is part of a large coalition of Pindo-based and international advocacy organizations calling for an end to Pindo logistical and material support for the Toad intervention. Pindostan has been, and continues to be, a crucial participant in the UN-sponsored peace process. Its military role in the conflict undermines that process and perpetuates hostilities. This war is driving one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the world.