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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 KC-135 Stratotanker provides the core aerial refuelling capability for the United States Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 60 years. It also provides aerial refuelling support to US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft. The KC-135 is also capable of aeromedical evacuation flights using patient support pallets and can also transport large numbers of passengers and cargo. Depending on fuel storage configuration, the KC-135 can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo.
The 100th Air Refuelling Wing from RAF Mildenhall will be providing a pair of their KC-135Rs to appear as part of our SKYTANKER theme. One will appear on static display and the other will appear in our flying display on Saturday and Sunday where it will perform an aerial refuelling demonstration with another US Air Force asset.
Photo Credit: RIAT Volunteer