Wednesday, 30 January 2013


The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is an Aerial Refueling Military Aircraft. It provides the core aerial refueling capability for the United States Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. It was the US Air Force's first jet-powered refueling tanker. The primary mission of the KC-135 is the refueling of strategic long-range bombers. It also provides air refueling support to Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft as well as aircraft of allied nations.
The KC-135 was derived from the Boeing 367-80 jet transport "proof of concept" demonstrator, which was commonly called the "Dash-80”.  The Boeing Company's model 367-80 was the basic design for the commercial 707 passenger plane as well as the KC-135A Stratotanker. The first aircraft flew in August 1956.

 Four turbofans, mounted under 35-degree swept wings, power the KC-135 to takeoffs at gross weights of up to 322,500 pounds. A cargo deck above the refueling system can hold a mixed load of passengers and cargo. Depending on fuel storage configuration, the KC-135 can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo.
boeing kc-135 stratotanker
One crewmember, known as the boom operator, is stationed in the rear of the plane and controls the boom during in-flight air refueling. A special shuttlecock-shaped drogue attached to and trailing behind the flying boom may be used to refuel aircraft fitted with probes. Some aircraft have been configured with the multipoint refueling system, which consists of special pods mounted on the wingtips.
During air refueling, the large flyable boom attached to the airplane's belly can offload fuel at 6,500 pounds per minute. This is enough fuel in one minute to operate an average family car for one year. Normally during in-flight refueling the boom operator is in radio contact with the receiver aircraft. The hook-up is made by directions given to the receiver aircraft through a system of lights located on the belly of the aircraft just behind the nose gear.
kc-135's boom operator
Of the original KC-135As, more than 415 have been modified with new CFM-56 engines produced by CFM-International. The re-engined tanker, designated either the KC-135R or KC-135T, can offload 50 percent more fuel, is 25 percent more fuel efficient, costs 25 percent less to operate and is 96 percent quieter than the KC-135A. 

During nine years of the Vietnam conflict, KC-135s made 813,000 aerial refuelings of combat aircraft. During the Persian Gulf war, the tankers made 18,700 hookups and transferred 278 million pounds of fuel.

Structurally, the KC-135 is similar but not identical to the Boeing 707 commercial airliner. It is a swept-wing, long range, high altitude, high speed jet transport. As such the KC-135 is similar in appearance to the 707, but has a narrower fuselage and is shorter than the 707. The KC-135 predates the 707, and is structurally quite different from the civilian airliner.

Primary Function: Aerial refueling and airlift 
Power Plant:
  CFM-56 turbofan engines
 21,634 pounds each engine
 130 feet, 10 inches (39.88 meters) 
 136 feet, 3 inches (41.53 meters) 
 41 feet, 8 inches (12.7 meters) 
 530 miles per hour at 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) 
 50,000 feet (15,240 meters) 
 1,500 miles (2,419 kilometers) with 150,000 pounds (68,039 kilograms) of transfer fuel
Maximum Takeoff Weight:
 322,500 pounds (146,285 kilograms) 
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load:
 200,000 pounds (90,719 kilograms) 
Maximum Cargo Capability:
 83,000 pounds (37,648 kilograms), 37 passengers 
 Three: pilot, co-pilot and boom operator. Some KC-135 missions require the addition of a navigator.