Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker

Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker

The KC-135 was originally tasked with supporting Strategic Air Command bombers; however, it became necessary during the Vietnam War for it to extending the range and combat time of the F-104 and F-4 fighter-bombers. It was used extensively in the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and is currently being utilized for support in Operation Enduring Freedom. Currently, 481 KC-135's are managed by the Air Mobility Command, 292 are operated by Air force Reserve and Air National Guard units. Though plans to replace the KC-135 with the KC-46, studies have shown that the KC-135 could be flown until 2040.

With four turbofan engines mounted underneath it's 35-degree swept wings, the KC-135 boasts a max takeoff weight of up to 322,500lbs (146,300kg). A single boom mounted on the rear of the aircraft, allows it to transfer nearly all of its internal fuel for routine refuels or even consolidation with other KC-135's. On average, each KC-135 logs between 710 and 800 hours annually, double the amount planned, in order to meet air born refueling requirements.

General Characteristics:

  • Primary Function: Airborne refueling
  • Contractor: Boeing
  • Power plant: 4X CFM International CFM56 turbofan, 21,634lbs each
  • Crew: 3, 2 pilots and boom operator
  • Payload: 83,000lbs (37,600kg)
  • Wingspan: 130ft 10in
  • Length: 136ft (41.53m)
  • Height: 41ft 8in (12.7m)
  • Max Takeoff Weight: 322,500lbs (146,300kg)
  • Max Speed: 580mph (933km/h)
  • Range: 1,500mi (2,419km) with 150,000lbs (68,039kg) of fuel for transfer
  • Ferry Range: 11,015mi (17,766km)
  • Ceiling: 50,000ft (15,200m)

  • KC-135 supporting OEF KC-135 supporting OEF