13 Facts About KC-135


The KC-135 was the United States Air Force's first jet-powered refueling tanker and replaced the KC-97 Stratofreighter.

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The KC-135 was initially tasked with refueling strategic bombers, but it was used extensively in the Vietnam War and later conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm to extend the range and endurance of US tactical fighters and bombers.

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KC-135 entered service with the United States Air Force in 1957; it is one of nine military fixed-wing aircraft with over 60 years of continuous service with its original operator.

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The KC-135 is supplemented by the larger McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender.

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The KC-135 is to be partially replaced by the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus.

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The KC-135 is similar in appearance to the 707, but has a narrower fuselage and is shorter than the 707.

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The KC-135 predates the 707, and is structurally quite different from the civilian airliner.

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Since Boeing's proposal was already flying, the KC-135 could be delivered two years earlier and Air Force Secretary Harold E Talbott ordered 250 KC-135 tankers until Lockheed's design could be manufactured.

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KC-135 was initially purchased to support bombers of the Strategic Air Command, but by the late 1960s, in the Southeast Asia theater, the KC-135 Stratotanker's ability as a force multiplier came to the fore.

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The KC-135 is one of a few military aircraft types with over 50 years of continuous service with its original operator as of 2009.

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Besides its primary role as an inflight aircraft refueler, the KC-135, designated NKC-135, has assisted in several research projects at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

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The KC-135 fleet is currently flying double its planned yearly flying hour program to meet airborne refueling requirements, and has resulted in higher than forecast usage and sustainment costs.

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However, the KC-135 fleet is large and will need to be replaced gradually.

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