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An Air Force tanker supporting operations in Afghanistan was forced to jettison nearly 30 tons of fuel over Kyrgyzstan after declaring an in-flight emergency, officials said late Monday.

The KC-135R Stratotanker experienced a pressurization problem and crewmembers reported smoke and fumes in the cockpit, according to an Air Force news release.

In order to reach a safe landing weight, the crew jettisoned 54,000 pounds of fuel over southern Kyrgyzstan in the Saturday incident.

"Prior to this in-flight emergency, there has not been any fuel jettisoned over Kyrgyzstan by Manas Air Base aircraft since September 2005," Col. Christopher Bence, the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing commander at Manas, said in a news release.

The fuel was jettisoned at around 24,000 feet, officials said, a high enough altitude that most of it should have vaporized before hitting the ground.

Manas is a key U.S. support base for the war in Afghanistan. More than 1,000 servicemembers — mostly Air Force — are stationed there.


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