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Just How Worn Out Are KC-135s?  
User currently offlinewoodsboy From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 1029 posts, RR: 3
Posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 8466 times:

With the new 767 tanker now closer to reality I am wondering just how worn out is the KC-135 fleet? I realize that the last built KC-135s date from 1990 and of course there are many that are older than that but just how close to the end of their useful life are they? I understand that many -135s have relatively low utilization as far as flight hours go and possibly low cycles given their minimum age now of 21 years. Also, how will the new 767 tanker stack up to the KC-10? How much longer are KC-10s scheduled to remain in use? I know they are relatively young, close to the last DC-10s off the line if I remember correctly.

25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently onlinemoose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2295 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 8442 times:

Quoting woodsboy (Thread starter):
I realize that the last built KC-135s date from 1990 and of course there are many that are older than that...

The last KC-135s were built in 1964. They were converted to R-models in the late 1980s and into the 1990s.



KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12128 posts, RR: 52
Reply 2, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 8184 times:

There are about 75-100 KC-135A/E/Qs at DM that are in various stages of disassembly for parts. These airplanes will never fly again. There are some 15, or so in museums, some of these could be returned to flying while other cannot. There is another 100, or so KC-135A/E/Qs and EC-135C/G/Hs in flyable storage. About 75 C/KC-135s (of all versions) were W/Os due to accidents, etc.

There are about 405 KC-135R/Ts actively flying for the USAF. These numbers do not count the KC-135E/Rs, KC-135FRs, or other models of the C-135 aircraft flying for the USAF or other Air Forces (like the RC/WC/OC/NC/NKC-135s and other versions).

All told there are about 525 active and flying C-135s of all versions in the world.

The last 3 KC-135As (now KC-135Rs) off the production line, 64-14828, 64-14829, and 64-14830, are all going to be converted to RC-135s for the RAF. These 3 tankers are currently in the active USAF inventory (unless they have started to move through the conversion process).

Boeing produced 732 KC-135A tankers, and about 113 other versions of the C-135 series from FY1955 through FY1964 (deliveries from 1956 to early 1966). There were another 125 KC-135s and C-135s ordered, but later canceled.

A total of 845 C/KC/RC/EC-135s were completed by Boeing.


User currently offlineB727LVR From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 630 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 7601 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):



This is a strong testiment to how well built these ladies are.

Quoting woodsboy (Thread starter):
just how close to the end of their useful life are they?



I once heard, that between the Air Force and Navy, and the number of 707 type aircraft they have, they would/could be flown until around 2050. This could have been a bit of a stretch, but with the Navy/Air Force joint venture in the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), which allows the Navy airframes to continue flying to 2040 anything is possible   I will admit as a caveat the Navy birds are much much younger, but we can all hope right?

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm...ction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=4376


I personally would love to see the -135 or all variants out last the 767.   



I'm like a kid in a candy store when it comes to planes!
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12128 posts, RR: 52
Reply 4, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 7268 times:

Quoting B727LVR (Reply 3):
I once heard, that between the Air Force and Navy, and the number of 707 type aircraft they have, they would/could be flown until around 2050. This could have been a bit of a stretch, but with the Navy/Air Force joint venture in the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), which allows the Navy airframes to continue flying to 2040 anything is possible

The USAF has been doing SLEP on various airplanes for years. The E-3s have begun their program and the E-8s were done when they were converted. The USN E-6 program is just beginning. 2040 will be an interesting year large fleets of US aircraft are currently scheduled to retire then, including the B-52, B-2, KC-135, KC-10, C-130, C-17, E-3, E-8, and now the E-6.

Quoting B727LVR (Reply 3):
I personally would love to see the -135 or all variants out last the 767

It could happen, and I would love to see it, but I doubt the USAF will allow it.


User currently offlineMax Q From United States of America, joined May 2001, 4364 posts, RR: 19
Reply 5, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 23 hours ago) and read 7205 times:

A trivia question, I think all the Airforce -R versions do not have reverser's installed, do the Navy E6's have them ?


The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
User currently offlineSpacepope From Vatican City, joined Dec 1999, 2898 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 13 hours ago) and read 7131 times:

Quoting Max Q (Reply 5):
A trivia question, I think all the Airforce -R versions do not have reverser's installed, do the Navy E6's have them ?

Yep.


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The last of the famous international playboys
User currently offlineMax Q From United States of America, joined May 2001, 4364 posts, RR: 19
Reply 7, posted (3 years 1 month 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 6767 times:

Thanks SPope


KC135 am I right in thinking all the-R versions do not have reverse and what was the reason for deleting it ?



I had heard it was for weight savings, is this true ?



The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
User currently onlinemoose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2295 posts, RR: 10
Reply 8, posted (3 years 1 month 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 6753 times:

You are correct, Max Q - the R-models do not have thrust reversers. Actually, the E-models with the TF-33 engines were the only ones with T/R installed, and they came with the engines that were salvaged from old 707s for the conversion. Since the mission of a tanker (especially in SAC SIOP days) was to get the most fuel possible to the receiver, they didn't want to carry around the extra weight of the T/R.


KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
User currently offlineflynlr From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 224 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (3 years 1 month 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 6742 times:

Having flown to and from Guam Via HNL from a stateside base last year in pretty much first class. "sleeping bag" on the floor ,"it does get a bit cool" I want the things to keep on flying for years to come. flying into the reef runway with the cockpit door open and watching the runway go upleftrightdown and repeat is a hoot.


The Right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed
User currently offlineSpacepope From Vatican City, joined Dec 1999, 2898 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (3 years 1 month 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 6614 times:

Quoting Max Q (Reply 7):
KC135 am I right in thinking all the-R versions do not have reverse and what was the reason for deleting it ?



I had heard it was for weight savings, is this true ?

Might be. Also keep in mind the KC-135 has a completely different wing and fuselage from a 707 (which the E-6 is based on), no matter how similar they superficially look. Perhaps enough of a difference to make that change needed.



The last of the famous international playboys
User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 11, posted (3 years 1 month 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 6516 times:

Like a 75 year old prostitute from Amsterdam - that's how worn out the KC-135's are.

User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 12, posted (3 years 1 month 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 6378 times:

The average flight time accumulated is about 12,000 hours - plenty of fatigue life left in them. Before anyone starts disagreeing, I got that opinion from the GAO, which was asked to answer this very question among others.

User currently offlineboeing767mech From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 1025 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (3 years 1 month 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 6357 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 12):
The average flight time accumulated is about 12,000 hours

12,000 that is a baby, I work on airplanes that have average 60K plus hours and they are still going. I remember going to the Edwards AFB airshow and talking to the crew chief of the NASA B-52 balls 8 and he said they had only 8000 hours on the airframe. He said there biggest problem was finding parts to fly the airplane.

Still wondering why they are replacing the 135's with a boneyard full of parts and the upgrades that can be done to the aircraft you would think the military would keep it around for awhile.

David



Never under-estimate the predictably of stupidty
User currently onlinemoose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2295 posts, RR: 10
Reply 14, posted (3 years 1 month 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 6353 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 12):
The average flight time accumulated is about 12,000 hours - plenty of fatigue life left in them.

I think the larger issue is corrosion, rather than fatigue. I believe the USAF does have a pretty aggressive corrosion prevention/repair program in effect for the -135.



KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1676 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (3 years 1 month 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 6264 times:

Quoting moose135 (Reply 14):
I think the larger issue is corrosion, rather than fatigue. I believe the USAF does have a pretty aggressive corrosion prevention/repair program in effect for the -135.

Yep, corrosion is the bigger issue. As much as 30-50% of the programmed depot maintenance for the KC-135 addresses corrosion issues. In total, aging-related costs are expected to add at least $17.8 billion to the price of maintaining the KC-135 for 40 years.

The KC-10 is expected to remain flying until at least 2045, but access to replacement parts is a worry. The problem is that while complete and accurate technical data exist for the areas on the aircraft manufactured by McDonnell-Douglas (now Boeing), vendor-built items often are discontinued or become obsolete, often with little notification to the original equipment manufacturer. And the worst thing of all is that the USAF doesn't have the technical data on those parts to find alternative vendors for those parts.


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 16, posted (3 years 1 month 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 6165 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 15):
In total, aging-related costs are expected to add at least $17.8 billion to the price of maintaining the KC-135 for 40 years.

And that is far more cost effective than buying new tankers to cover the same time period. 767s will have their own corrosion problems in that time frame.


User currently offlineboeing767mech From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 1025 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (3 years 1 month 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 6139 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 16):
767s will have their own corrosion problems in that time frame.

We have some -200ER's that we are finding lots of corrosion on the keel beam and on skin lap areas. But since the new tankers are going to be a hybrid of airframes and newer manufacturing, the corrosion issues shouldn't be the same as my 767-200's

David



Never under-estimate the predictably of stupidty
User currently offlinetitanmiller From United States of America, joined May 2006, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (3 years 1 month 3 days ago) and read 6126 times:

Quoting boeing767mech (Reply 13):
The average flight time accumulated is about 12,000 hours

All of the jets I fly on have somewhere between 18-22,000 hours. I've seen some up over 24,000 hours on the top end and high 16,000 on the low end. There might be some out there with low hours, but I have a hard time believing that the average is 12,000.


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 19, posted (3 years 1 month 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 5961 times:

Quoting titanmiller (Reply 18):
All of the jets I fly on have somewhere between 18-22,000 hours. I've seen some up over 24,000 hours on the top end and high 16,000 on the low end. There might be some out there with low hours, but I have a hard time believing that the average is 12,000.

Without looking up the reports, I agree I may be off. But not by much. I remember clearly and with astonishment, that the average for the fleet is bellow 20,000 hours somewhere in the teens. For a KC-135 frame, that's nothing. Corrosion is the main problem, and the USAF has that under control with their maintenance programs.

There is a reason the USAF planned to fly them till 2050 - because they realistically can.


User currently offlinetitanmiller From United States of America, joined May 2006, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (3 years 1 month 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 5920 times:

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d02724r.pdf

Is this the GAO report? It says that they have between 12,000 and 14,000 flight hours in 1995 which is believable.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d03938t.pdf

This second report says that they averaged 300 hours per year between 1995 and September 2001 and 435 hours per year since then. ((300 hours * 6 years) + (435 hours + 10 years)) = 6,150 hours since 1995 which puts them between about 18,000 and 20,000 hours.


User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1676 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (3 years 1 month 2 days ago) and read 5902 times:

Quoting tommytoyz (Reply 16):
And that is far more cost effective than buying new tankers to cover the same time period. 767s will have their own corrosion problems in that time frame.

Problem will be spare parts. Like the KC-10, while complete and accurate technical data exist for the areas on the aircraft manufactured by Boeing, sections where the work was subcontracted out or are vendor-built systems are either no longer built or obsolete with little notification. Eventually, the bone yards of retired KC-135's and Boeing 707's cannot continue to support of active KC-135's in the near future.


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12128 posts, RR: 52
Reply 22, posted (3 years 1 month 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5819 times:

Quoting AirRyan (Reply 11):
Like a 75 year old prostitute from Amsterdam - that's how worn out the KC-135's are.

But that "prostitute" will still be giving first class "service" for at least another 30 years.

How much experience do you have with 75 year old prostitutes in AMS?

Quoting moose135 (Reply 14):
I think the larger issue is corrosion, rather than fatigue. I believe the USAF does have a pretty aggressive corrosion prevention/repair program in effect for the -135.

Correct, as it is with any metal based airplane.

Quoting titanmiller (Reply 18):
Quoting boeing767mech (Reply 13):
The average flight time accumulated is about 12,000 hours

All of the jets I fly on have somewhere between 18-22,000 hours. I've seen some up over 24,000 hours on the top end and high 16,000 on the low end. There might be some out there with low hours, but I have a hard time believing that the average is 12,000.

When I retired in 1992, the 'high time' and 'lead the fleet' KC-135As had well over 24,000 hours then. The KC-135R still has a life projection in excess of 39,000 hours. So according to the GAO the average KC-135 is just about half way through its projected and safe flying time now.


User currently offlinena From Germany, joined Dec 1999, 10645 posts, RR: 9
Reply 23, posted (3 years 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 5611 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):
About 75 C/KC-135s (of all versions) were W/Os due to accidents, etc.

Unless the most incidents went unreported (what I do not believe), I cant remember that more than a dozen or so have crashed. If the 75-figure is true, I´d say the most of these 75 were w/o due to age after minor mishaps.

Quoting titanmiller (Reply 18):
All of the jets I fly on have somewhere between 18-22,000 hours. I've seen some up over 24,000 hours on the top end and high 16,000 on the low end. There might be some out there with low hours, but I have a hard time believing that the average is 12,000.

So thats about 10% of the utilization of an average civilian airliner. Amazing.


User currently onlinemoose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2295 posts, RR: 10
Reply 24, posted (3 years 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 5598 times:

Quoting na (Reply 23):
So thats about 10% of the utilization of an average civilian airliner. Amazing.

Remember a few things, though. Until the early 1990s, KC-135s, along with B-52s, sat EWO Alert. Boom, you might remember better than me, but I think -135s would be generated up to Alert status for 90 days at a time. That meant for a quarter of the year, they did no flying at all (thankfully!) Also, airliners don't earn money when sitting on the ramp - that's not a consideration for a military aircraft, so they don't generally get used as much in any case - it's acceptable to have some extra capacity that's available for surge times. The last 10 years have seen a marked increase in operations with things like Afghanistan and Iraq.

[Edited 2011-06-27 05:52:20]


KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
User currently offlinetitanmiller From United States of America, joined May 2006, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 25, posted (3 years 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 5448 times:

Quoting moose135 (Reply 24):
Unless the most incidents went unreported (what I do not believe), I cant remember that more than a dozen or so have crashed. If the 75-figure is true, I´d say the most of these 75 were w/o due to age after minor mishaps.

Here is a list: http://airrefuelingarchive.wordpress...135-history-of-destroyed-aircraft/


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