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KC-135 Stratotanker


KC-135 In operation since 1957, the KC-135 Stratotanker is used primarily to re-fuel aircraft during flight. Modified KC-135s, however, serve as flying command posts, pure transport, electronic reconnaissance, and photo mapping craft.

Tanker Characteristics

The KC-135 possesses the following characteristics:

KC-135 Skin-Replacement

During a 13-year period ending in 1988, Boeing replaced the lower wing surfaces with an improved aluminum-alloy skin. The program included the following tasks:

CFM Engine-Replacement

To increase takeoff and carrying capacity, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce engine noise and pollution levels, Boeing replaced the original KC-135A engines with CFM56 engines for the U.S. Air Force. The serviced aircraft were re-designated as KC-135Rs, and the engine-replacement program achieved the following results:

JT3D Engine-Replacement

The Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard retained Boeing to replace KC-135-A engines with refurbished JT3D engines taken from used commercial 707 airliners. The aircraft designation changed to KC-135E, and the program achieved the following results:

Continuing Improvements

The U.S. Air Force retained Boeing to provide the following improvements: add wingtip, hose, and drogue refueling pods; modernize the cockpit; provide new compasses and radar systems; and install a global positioning system (GPS).