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The Boeing KC-135 aerial refuelling tanker was developed from the Boeing 717, a shorter and narrower aircraft based on the Boeing 707 airliner. First entering service in 1957, eventually 803 KC-135s were produced between 1955 and 1965. In addition to the KC-135, the basic C-135 has also been developed into a number of specialist roles including the RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic reconnaissance aircraft which is operated by both the USAF and the RAF. The remaining KC-135s have been upgraded with CFM56 engine giving the type 60% greater range and is 25% more fuel efficient.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force first acquired the KC-135 from the USA in 1997, the aircraft were surplus KC-135A models which were upgraded to the latest KC-135R standard which included new engines. Operated exclusively by 112 squadron since their delivery in 2000, the RSAF KC-135 fleet served for 19 years as the air forces only tanker and long range transport aircraft. The fleet were retired in 2019 when the RSAF transferred to the Airbus A330MRTT which is a significantly more capable aircraft. Meta, now Metrea acquired four of these retired KC-135s and now operates them as civilian owned aerial refuelling tankers available for use by militaries the world over under contract.
Metrea will be making their RIAT debut this year as part of our SKYTANKER theme and will be providing one of their KC-135s for static display. Their aircraft are as, if not, more capable than USAF KC-135Rs and can conduct multiple missions including transport, training or fighter deployments.
Photo Credit: Mark Chen