The KC-135 Stratotanker is destined to be the longest flying aircraft in the history of the United States Air Force. In 1954, the USAF Strategic Air Command selected the KC-135A, a development of the Boeing 367-80 prototype, to become its first jet powered aerial refueling platform. The aircraft, favored by aircrews, has proven to be incredibly reliable and has undergone numerous upgrades keeping it in service for over 60 years, with plans to keep the aircraft flying until 2045. There are currently over 400 aircraft, flown and operated by the US Air Force and four other countries, remaining in service….making it the most prolific aircraft refueling tanker on earth.
Field Aerospace has been part of this heritage for more than 20 years and plans on supporting the aircraft for another 30 years. One of the most recent projects Field Aerospace completed was the installation of the Rockwell Collins Block 45 upgrade on the first two Engineering, Manufacture & Development (EMD) phase kits as well as 15 Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) kits. The Block 45 upgrade incorporates a new autopilot, flight director, radar altimeter, and electronic engine instrument display, addressing obsolescence issues while providing enhanced navigational capabilities, improving overall safety and situational awareness to the C/KC-135 fleet. Along with ground and flight testing, Field Aerospace provided Technical Order (TO) and data updates, eventually paving the way for Tinker Air Force base to take over the installation process for the remainder of the fleet.
While the mission of the fleet becomes increasingly more important, the role of the aircraft also increases, requiring additional upgrades to the platform. One of the next upgrade programs includes a countermeasure system to improve survivability. Field Aerospace will play an integral role by installing the first, next generation Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system on two KC-135 aircraft.
With over 20 years of experience, Field Aerospace has supported the KC-135 fleet on programs such as: the ARC-210 DAMA SATCOM install, Circuit Breaker Panel Replacement, Command and Control Interoperability System (C2IS) install, Emergency Locator Transmitter Upgrade, Flight Data Recorder (FDR) Upgrade, Navigation Safety Modification, OC-135 Global Air Traffic Management system install, RC-135 Flight Data Recorder Modification, Roll On Beyond Line of Sight Enhancement (ROBE), Transformer Rectifier Replacement program, Boom Wiring Harness Reverse Engineering & Fabrication, Common Interface Computer Tech Support, Flight Data Recorder (FDR) Support, French Air Force Install Kits, Country Standard Technical Orders (CSTOs), Wiring Diagrams, and Engineering Support. We are honored to support the survivability, maintainability and mission of the KC-135 Stratotanker.