HomeNewsArticle Display

Air Force celebrates 60 years of the KC-135

The KC-135 Stratotanker was originally used to support bombers of the Strategic Air Command. The midair refueling capabilities allowed fighter missions to spend hours on the front lines, rather than a few minutes, which was usually due to the limited size of fuel tanks in the fighters. (Courtesy Photo)

The KC-135 Stratotanker was originally used to support bombers of the Strategic Air Command. The midair refueling capabilities allowed fighter missions to spend hours on the front lines, rather than a few minutes, which was usually due to the limited size of fuel tanks in the fighters. (Courtesy photo)

The first KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to Fairchild Air Force Base in 1958 was named “The Queen of the Inland Empire.” This year the Air Force celebrates the 60th birthday of the KC-135. (Courtesy Photo)

The first KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., in 1958 was named “The Queen of the Inland Empire.” This year the Air Force celebrates the 60th birthday of the KC-135. (Courtesy photo)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFNS) -- The Air Force celebrated the 60th birthday of the KC-135 Stratotanker Aug. 31. The first Stratotanker flew in August of 1956 and was later delivered to the Air Force in June 1957.

The first KC-135 was delivered to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, which was assigned at Castle Air Force Base, California, at the time, but has since been relocated to Fairchild AFB.

The aircraft was originally used to support bombers of the Strategic Air Command. The midair refueling capabilities allowed fighter missions to spend hours on the front lines, rather than a few minutes, which was usually due to the limited size of fuel tanks in the fighters.

“In short order, KC-135s became the backbone of SAC, enabling our bomber force to maintain the peace because of its deterrence capability,” said Jim O’Connell, a 92nd Air Refueling Wing historian.

SAC had the KC-135 in service from 1957 to 1992. Following the inactivation the command in 1992, most KC-135s were reassigned to the newly created Air Mobility Command.

“Despite being called the ‘B-52s Flying Fuel Station,’ the KC-135 has made an impact locally as well as on the world stage,” O’Connell said. “The first KC-135 to be assigned to Fairchild (AFB) arrived on Feb. 21, 1958, and went on to make its mark on the world by establishing eight world records in September of that year.”

A few of the records broken include: most distance covered in a closed-circuit without refueling, highest speed for 2,000 km (1,242 miles) and highest speed for 5,000 km (3,106 miles).

In 2001 the first KC-135 with the new Multi-Point Refueling System, which included refueling pods on each wingtip, along with the boom, allowed refueling of any type of aircraft on any mission.

Fourteen years later, another upgrade to the aircraft was made, and Fairchild AFB received its first aircraft modified with the Block 45 communications, navigation and surveillance and air traffic management upgrade.

Since 1958, the tankers of the 92nd and 141st ARWs have supported everything from aeromedical evacuations, command and control, airlift missions, treaty enforcement and overseas contingency fighter and bomber missions.

“The KC-135 and its air refueling mission has been the cornerstone in nearly every contingency and humanitarian operation around the world,” O’Connell said. “As a testament to the incredible maintenance and support teams, it will likely continue to do so for many years to come.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: Bringing them home. More than 82,000 Americans remain missing from #WWII through the Gulf Wars and other conflicts. The…
RT @USAF_ACC: Today is POW/MIA Day. We will forever remember and honor the lives lost fighting for our country. 🇺🇸 #USAF #POWMIARecognitio
Weren't able to make #ASC19 this year? No problem. We've got the goods. Push ▶️ to hear from first-time attendees a… https://t.co/rEOE1eukwz
Howdy Texans! #AmerciasAirForce is heading to the #lonestarstate on Sept. 27. Hear this #Airman share his love for… https://t.co/BS1ysk4ST3
The return of great power competition requires the U.S. military services to change and adapt quickly. Hear from De… https://t.co/kKiNeHywzp
RT @AirMobilityCmd: The four fans of freedom are blowing strong as a U.S Air Force C-130J Hercules from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansa…
RT @ActingSecAF: Kudos to @AirForceAssoc on #ASC19 👏🏻 What a wonderful professional opportunity for #Airmen & industry to expand our compe…
.@ACC_Commander designates the 16th Air Force as a new information warfare numbered #AirForce at #ASC19. As… https://t.co/LMiMJ3rWNO
RT @AstroHague: Thank you to the Airmen across the globe who make the human exploration of space possible. Wishing the @usairforce a happy…
RT @Hanscom_AFB: “The @usairforce is leading the charge across @DeptofDefense. No one else in #government has as much ... of this software…
RT @PACAF: Commanders from Australia, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Thailand and the U.S. met for the 2019 Logistics and Safet…
To all those who helped establish the long blue line past, present and future, we honor you and we remember with th… https://t.co/teymF7proy
#ASC19: "We’re all in this together trying to make your service to country the best experience on the planet. We w… https://t.co/rdbCDBJr2c
#VCSAF Gen. Stephen Wilson speaks on what makes the #AirForce unique. #ASC19 https://t.co/gStwUZoaQC
RT @AFSpace: @AstroHague takes #aimhigh to the extreme by celebrating the @usairforce's birthday from the @Space_Station! #FrontiersofBlue
RT @VP: Happy 72nd birthday to the @usairforce! On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you to the amazing men and women of the Air Force for…
#ASC19: There's a challenge to maintain warfighting capabilities until new bombers and missiles arrive. Hear more f… https://t.co/SWB3VjNod8
#ASC19: Want to know which three acquisition trends #AirForce acquisition experts believe should "go viral?" Click… https://t.co/hsiH3oQXOX
RT @NSAGov: Happy Birthday to the @usairforce! For 72 years you've taught us to aim high. We look forward to continuing to fly, fight, and…
RT @AFGlobalStrike: The Air Force is celebrating 72 years of service, so here is 72 seconds of Global Strike Command! #USAFBday #ThisIs72 h…