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Upgrading The KC135 Fleet.  
User currently offlineKEESJE From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (12 years 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 2341 times:

What I understand is that the KC135 fleet was purchased in a relative short period 1957-1965. Ages of all the KC135 are all in the 40-47 yrs bracket.

410 of the KC135 are reengined and offers superior performace/maintainability compared to the ones flying. It 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.

157 Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard tankers were re-engined with the TF-33-PW-102 engines. The re-engined tanker, designated the KC-135E, is 14 percent more fuel efficient than the KC-135A and can offload 20 percent more fuel.

In current plans the last KC135 will leave the fleet at around 2040. These are probably the CFM56 modified aircraft.

Why not modify part of the non reengined / TF-33 aircraft just like the modified KC135R/T with new engines and improved communications, navigation and surveillance equipment (to meet future civil air traffic control needs) ?

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineKC10Boom From United States of America, joined May 2004, 62 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (12 years 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 2279 times:

The KC-135 is not without its problems. I am not a 135 Boom but I have read about structural problems and cracks in the wing box. Alloys from the 50's are not what they are today. The aircraft may have many hours of life left in them however the USAF does one thing to the aircraft that I am sure is shortening their lifespan, and that is the amount of cycles the aircraft have. Unlike their civilian counterparts, the military has the aircraft and crews doing touch and goes for hours at a time, day after day, to keep up pilot proficiency. (have yet to be on an airline that did a touch and go and their pilots do just fine...:0) That may be a factor.

Why is it my best contacts are when no one else is looking!
User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 17
Reply 2, posted (12 years 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 2275 times:

Ever heard of structural life of the airframe?

Those Stratotankers are old tired aircraft, they are being carefully monitored and doled out based on the airframe life left to them.
Restoring them to last another 50 years (or even 20) would cost as much or more as building a completely new aircraft yet leave the USAF with a platform of lesser capabilities.

I wish I were flying
User currently offlineRaginMav From United States of America, joined May 2004, 377 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (12 years 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 2241 times:

A good friend of mine is a retired USAF Col. His last command was a bunch of tankers at Altus AFB, OK. He retired in 1989. I have heard him speak many times about the woes of the old 135 fleet, particularly the corrosion problems that were common among birds.

Question: how do the average hours of B-52's compare to the -135's? Do the -52's have as many problems as the 135's?

User currently offlineLt-AWACS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (12 years 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 2228 times:

Believe it or not, most of our ~25 year old, 32 E-3s have more hours than any of the B-52s  Smile

I will say this, when you go over to the Depot here at Tinker (where the KC-135 depot is) and you see the work they have to do on these old tankers, it is amazing.

There are two 135s in their skivies (skin) minus tails that I think have been in the same hanger since I got here over 3 years ago. Lots of work indeed.

Ciao, and Hook 'em Horns,
Capt-AWACS, I was told there would be no math........

User currently offlineChdmcmanus From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 374 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (12 years 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 2210 times:

LtAWACS is right about the depot work on the '135. They also do it in San Antonio at the BASC at Kelly field. They routinely bead blast right down to the skin, remove the empennage, and strip the airframe clean, then rinse, lather, repeat. Reassemble, and off they go. From what I hear from the BASC guys, the contract is reverting to chemical paint strippers again, because of skin thickness loss over time due to bead blasting, and the infamous Boeing lap-joints. Most AMC heavies and the AWACS platforms have more hours than the KC-135/B-52 because of mission differences. That being said, I'm not sure if I understand your question KEESJE,
"Why not modify part of the non reengined / TF-33 aircraft just like the modified KC135R/T with new engines and improved communications, navigation and surveillance equipment (to meet future civil air traffic control needs) ?"

Mostly they are ANG aircraft, and they do, it's called the "R" model and Pacer Craig mod. The E/R mods are two different generational mods.

What future civil ATC needs do you mean?


"Never trust a clean Crew Chief"
User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 17
Reply 6, posted (12 years 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 2185 times:

Probably freeflight and French speaking pilots (for when the French take over the US in payment for the US being allowed to use their A330s in combat)  Smile

I wish I were flying
User currently offlineLMP737 From United States of America, joined May 2002, 5065 posts, RR: 16
Reply 7, posted (12 years 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2172 times:

As others have pointed out there is more to updating the KC-135 fleet than just new engines and avionics. From an airframe stand point you would have to do some serious structural work. For instance re-skinning parts of the airframe, replacing the aft pressure bulkhead and re-skinning the wings. Naturally you would have to weigh the pros and cons of this and figure out if it's actually cost effective to do.

Never take financial advice from co-workers.
User currently offlineContact_tower From Norway, joined Sep 2001, 536 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (12 years 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 2155 times:

"to meet future civil air traffic control needs) ?"

Me thinks ADS-B, P-RVAV, RVSM and CPDL (all needed for free flight concept ofcourse)

User currently offlineBackwater From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2003, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (12 years 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2161 times:

Had a visit round tinker in 2001 and there were loads of one-thirty-fives in the depot stripped to the nines, anyone would think they were being built from the amount of skin removed, also lots of TF33's being rebuilt, i mean lots of them, interesting place thow, went roung on a multiple trailor golf buggy train thingy, Lt awacs will know wot i mean, had some agency dude with suit and shades escort us.....with a nice tash!!!!!!

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