Military Review

Long-lived aircraft. KC-135

When it comes to long-lived aircraft, the first models that come to mind military connoisseurs aviation, Are the Tu-95 and B-52 aircraft. You can find a lot of information about these strategic bombers today, but on these long-lived planes историяOf course, does not end there. In general, it is worth noting that the 1950-1960-e were really rich in long-playing aircraft platforms. One example of such aircraft is the American KC-135, the conversion version of the exceptionally successful civilian airliner B-707, which made its first flight in the distant 1954 year. Boeing’s data have long since gone from commercial airlines, but their military version still rises into the sky and their operation is unlikely to end in the next decade.

The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is a four-engine jet specialized multi-purpose military transport aircraft that was designed at the beginning of the 1950's. Boeing's KC-135A tanker aircraft was designed to refuel in the air tactical and strategic aircraft. The car was created on the basis of a successful passenger liner Boeing 707. Instead of a passenger cabin in the plane, a cargo cabin with a reinforced floor was equipped, which could carry up to 22700 kg of various cargoes or 80 soldiers with full equipment. The first flight of the prototype took place in August 1956. In total, 1955 KC-1965 aircraft of various types were built during the production from 820 to 135. In the 1982, the KC-135R version was developed, which received an increased supply of fuel and new engines, as well as a second auxiliary power unit, a new enhanced chassis and upgraded on-board equipment. In 1984, the United States began the process of re-equipment of all previously released KC-135A aircraft according to the KC-135R standard. 11 of such refitted machines in 1985-1988 were transferred to France, where they received the designation KC-135FR.

The KC-135 was originally designed to extend the range of strategic bombers of the B-52 type. For these purposes, a remote-controlled telescopic rod was created, having an 14,3 meter length. Initially, approximately half of the tanker’s onboard fuel was transported (43 500 kg). Deliveries of new aircraft to the USAF Strategic Aviation Command (SAC) at the Castle Air Base in California began as early as June 1957. In the future, the aircraft planned upgrades, which significantly increased their performance.

On the basis of this machine in the United States, various modifications were built: reconnaissance aircraft, weather reconnaissance systems, reconnaissance systems of the enemy’s electronic equipment, air command and control posts and communications with strategic nuclear forces, research aircraft. At this point in time, a substantial part of the KC-135 aircraft built and its various modifications continue to fly. The US Air Force plans to use these machines for a long time, it is planned to operate some aircraft up to the 2040 year.

Also in the US, the RC-135 version was widely used, which was an electronic reconnaissance aircraft. This plane was a little longer. The lengthening of the nose of the aircraft on the 135 meter, characteristic of the RC-2,28S / V / W models, was due to the installation of an additional antenna for the electronic reconnaissance (RTR) system. The antennas of the RTR systems, including the automatic direction finding system of the radiation source, were located under the fairings of the forward fuselage of the RC-135 aircraft. And in the convex compartments with an area of ​​8,6 square meters each, along the sides of the fuselage in the forward part there were interferometers and superheterodyne for analyzing and decoding the signal. Numerous antennas of automatic programmable receivers, amplifiers, and detectors were also located in these compartments - in total, they covered most of the range of electronic signals that could be intercepted.

Obtained by reconnaissance aircraft data can be recorded in analog and digital format, indicating the exact location of the detected source. Intercepted signals are received by system operators who are in the cabin of a reconnaissance aircraft. Aircraft equipment is sharpened by the selection of pulses of interest from a large number of captured signals. These aircraft reconnaissance aircraft RC-135V / W Rivet Joint were widely used by the US military during Operation Desert Storm. These aircraft were the backbone of the radio intelligence forces in the area, controlling the operation of Iraq’s communications systems and radar stations.


The distinctive features of the aircraft KC-135 include the fact that this is the world's first high-volume specialized jet tanker aircraft, as well as the fact that this long-lived aircraft may serve in the US Air Force to 80-85 years. Such long-term operation is confirmed by the data replacement program of the aircraft. In March, the United States Air Force 2011 signed a contract with the Boeing aircraft manufacturing concern for the supply of new KC-46A aircraft tankers. According to the contract, the military must receive the first 18 aircraft to the 2017 year. After that, the US Air Force plans to place an order to build additional aircraft. In total, by the year 2027, the Boeing concern will have to supply the US military 179 with a new type of refueling aircraft. As in the case of the KC-135, the development of the new KC-46A tanker aircraft is based on the passenger airliner B767-2C. As part of the US Air Force, they will replace the obsolete KC-135 Stratotanker. Aircraft KC-46A will be able to reach speeds of up to 920 km / h and fly to a distance of 12 200 km. The fuel capacity of the new aircraft will be equal to 92 tons.

Aircraft design

The KC-135 is a four-engine jet aircraft, built according to the normal scheme with a low-lying (low-wing) two-spar wing and single-fin tail. Mechanization of the wing includes double-slot flaps and nasal root shells. The heel-free roll is controlled using aileron located at the end and on the half-span of the wing, as well as interceptors, which also perform the role of air brakes on the aircraft. The original glider life was 13 000 hours, but in 1975-1988, work was done to replace the underside of the wing to bring the glider to 40 000 hours and extend the life of the aircraft to at least 2020. The aircraft is equipped with a three-bearing landing gear with a hydraulic system of cleaning-release. The main racks are equipped with four-wheeled carts, the nose strut of the chassis is two-wheeled, made manageable.

The fuselage of the KC-135 semi-monocoque type with a cross-section in the shape of two intersecting circles. The crew cabin is triple, in the main cabin it was possible to place loads of up to 22,6 tons, as well as landing troops up to 80. A cargo door was made on the left side, measuring 2,89x1,98 meters. The crew of the tanker got into the car through the hatch opening down and forward, equipped with a retractable stepladder. It was located on the left side in front of the nose of the chassis. "Passengers" got into the plane through the cargo door, which could open up almost 180 degrees. In the doorway of this door it was possible to install a folding crane, which allowed, in case of need, to load oversized cargoes without the use of ground equipment. In particular, it was easy to load a spare engine on the plane, which could be useful when placing the aircraft on the advanced airfield.

In the rear fuselage was equipped with a refueling system operator's cabin with a rear hemisphere view window. In the initial position, this window is closed by a fairing that retracts into the aircraft fuselage. Under the fuselage behind the nose landing gear there were two rows of signal lights - “traffic lights”, which informed the pilot of the vehicle being filled about the progress of fuel pumping. Also, originally along the “belly” of the tanker aircraft, a strip of poisonous yellow color was placed, which was supposed to help the pilot of the refueling plane precisely maintain the course at the time of refueling.

The original version of the KC-135A tanker aircraft was equipped with four Pratt-Whitney J57-PW-59 engines, which were located on the underwing pylons. On the KC-135R version, CFM F108-CF-100 engines appeared on the aircraft, with increased thrust (9985 kgf) and a quarter efficiency increase. Version of the aircraft KC-135R compared with its predecessor KC-135A, according to the information of the Boeing company, received a large take-off weight (146,3 tons) and is able to transfer more fuel to the 65% at a distance of 2775 km from the airfield based on 150% more fuel distance in 4630 km. At the same time, the takeoff distance of the aircraft was reduced, which is now 2620 m. In addition, we managed to reduce the maximum noise during takeoff - from 126 dB to 99 dB.

On the KC-135R aircraft, fuel is placed in wing tanks and two compartments located under the floor of the main cabin with a total capacity of 118 240 liters. At the rear of the fuselage there is a small reserve tank for 3800 liters of fuel. Aircraft refueling in the air is performed by the operator using a telescopic rod located in the rear fuselage of the aircraft. With the help of this boom one aircraft can refuel, the transfer speed of fuel 3400 l / min. You can use the intra-fuselage fueling unit with a flexible hose. In flight, the refueling bar is pressed down to the fuselage.

The length of the telescopic bar for refueling varies from 8,5 meters in the folded position to 14,3 meters in a fully extended state. The boom can be controlled by the operator in two planes with the help of two aerodynamic control surfaces, equipped with a hydraulic actuator. It is distinguished by the following deflection angles: in the vertical plane -20 ...- 40 degrees, in the horizontal plane 15 ...- 15 degrees or 20 ...- 20 degrees. The performance of the filling system is different. Under normal operation - 2800 l / min, when refueling strategic bombers - 3400 l / min. On the KC-135R aircraft version, the refueling speed has been increased to 4540 l / min. During refueling, the operator is located in the supine position and directs the actions of the crew of the aircraft being refueled when it is established and during its contact with the tanker aircraft by radio or by using signal lights.

Flight performance of KC-135:
Overall dimensions: length - 41,53 m, height - 12,7 m, wing span - 39,98 m, wing area - 226 m2.
Empty weight - 44 663 kg.
Maximum take-off weight - 146 000 kg.
Payload - 90 700 kg.
The power plant - 4TRDD CFM F108-CF-100, 9985 kgf each.
Maximum speed - 930 km / h.
Cruising speed - 850 km / h.
Practical ceiling - 15200 m.
Flight range - 2419 km in the transfer 68 039 kg of fuel.
The crew - 3 person: the captain, the co-pilot, the refueling operator.

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  1. inkass_98
    inkass_98 16 July 2015 07: 09
    Yes, the smoking room is still alive. Our 3M and Tu-16 in the version of refueling have long been decommissioned, and this mastodon is still flying. Again, the argument in favor of using an initially civilian pepelats for purely military purposes is mass production and a broad backlog for modernization.
    By the way, as far as I remember, based on this monster, specialized tankers were developed for the SR-71 with its aggressive fuel.
    1. The comment was deleted.
    2. gjv
      gjv 16 July 2015 08: 39
      Quote: inkass_98
      as far as I remember, based on this monster, specialized tankers were developed for the SR-71 with its aggressive fuel.

      K-135Q - the second modification of the C-135A, a total of 56 vehicles have been converted. 30 of them were intended, due to the specificity of the JP-7 fuel, to refuel a single model of the aircraft - the reconnaissance aircraft Lockheed SR-71 ("Blackbird").

      Memory good
    3. Bongo
      Bongo 16 July 2015 08: 46
      Quote: inkass_98
      Yes, the smoking room is still alive. Our 3M and Tu-16 in the version of refueling have long been decommissioned, and this mastodon is still flying.

      It is not quite correct to compare these machines with C-135 (Boeing-707). C-135 and machines based on it have lower specific fuel consumption and operational characteristics, which, in fact, with the updated avionics determined the long life of this family.
      A much more detailed publication about aircraft based on the B-707.
      However, in fairness it is worth saying that the mass cancellation of Soviet combat aircraft in the early 90's was largely due to the collapse of the USSR.
    4. avt
      avt 16 July 2015 09: 35
      Quote: inkass_98
      Yes, the smoking room is still alive. Our 3M and Tu-16 in the version of refueling have long been decommissioned, and this mastodon is still flying.

      Because initially they practically approached the issue of choosing a platform for the tanker - they took as a basis a serial, civilian aircraft, as you correctly indicate
      Quote: inkass_98
      - mass production and a wide reserve for modernization.

      and made a "long-playing" device. Without bothering with the topic, as recently some on the site - and how will it take off from unpaved airfields? wassat
  2. FID
    FID 16 July 2015 08: 52
    I wonder where are our commentators? I remember that in connection with the Tu-95MS disaster near Khabarovsk, there were so many screams and snot - they say, the plane is already 1955, old, but it's time for a newer ... KS-135 developments of the early 50s of the last century are going to be left in service until 80 -x current. That in the States there are only fools and they do not understand that the plane is "old"? Or are we only "smart" and understand everything?
  3. igordok
    igordok 16 July 2015 12: 13
    In general, it is worth noting that the 1950-1960 years turned out to be truly rich in long-playing aircraft platforms.

    In those days, they were really preparing for war, for centuries. In those days, designers had priority, and in today's managers effective managers.
  4. aviator1913
    aviator1913 16 July 2015 12: 41
    Boeing contract for the supply of new KC-46A tanker aircraft. Under the contract, the military must receive the first 18 aircraft by the 2017 year. After that, the US Air Force plans to place an order for the construction of additional aircraft. In total, by the 2027 year, the Boeing concern will have to supply the US military with a new type of 179 tanker aircraft.

    -normal such an order for refueling, more than one car per year people do ...
  5. sssla
    sssla 16 July 2015 17: 21
    Where is the data on disasters, falls, incidents, and so on and so how about ours ??? Article - Coca Cola! )
  6. 52
    52 16 July 2015 17: 46
    .Here is the speech .Excellent machine, and it doesn’t matter what the mattress is. simply respect for the creators of such a multi-functional and long-lived platform.
    1. FID
      FID 16 July 2015 18: 18
      Quote: 52gim
      long-lived platform.

      The platform rides on the railway ... Enough already, just a little, just a "platform" ... This is an PLANE, let the managers distort their language!
  7. Noncombatant
    Noncombatant 16 July 2015 19: 34
    C * dragging striped.
    I remember a transmission on Discovery, where a general of the American Air Force with an important air declared that the "boom-plane" refueling system was much more efficient than that of the Russians. Only now it is possible to see that all their tankers are equipped with the same "Russian, primitive" system "flexible hose-cone-plane".

    So in everything.
    At the very least, the policy of suppressing the opponent's technologies. As a maximum, a bright campaign to identify imaginary flaws and flaws. Subsequently, the adoption of the opponent's system, with a bright informational presentation that "once again the US armed forces adopted a unique technology."

    Mraz * and.
    1. opus
      opus 17 July 2015 01: 52
      Quote: noncombant
      Only now it is possible to see that all their tankers are equipped with the same "Russian, primitive" system "flexible hose-cone-plane".

      uh ... Something you didn’t look

      the English company Flight Refuelling Limited (FRL) developed even before the war Grappled-line looped-hos ..

      Ultimately, a refueling system was introduced into the air using the hose-cone method (in the English probe-and-drogue system)
      Avro 683 Lancaster and Gloster Meteor. One of the first probe-and-drogue refueling.

      After the war, a lot of American long-range bombers (B-17, B-24, B-29, B-50) were equipped with this system and its modernized versions.

      The system of the FRL company interested V.S. Vakhmistrov, the one who, in the pre-war era, was the initiator of the "flying pyramids" or the "Vakhmistrov circus," as aviators used to say. He took it as a basis, starting his work in the 1948 year.

      Igor Shelest and Viktor Vasyatin developed their own refueling system, which in the end turned out to be much more efficient and simpler than the FRL system and was subsequently taken as the basis.

      It was the so-called air refueling system. "From wing to wing". It was subsequently massively used. only in the Soviet air force .
      1. opus
        opus 17 July 2015 01: 55
        Refueling in a group from KV-50J. Refueling involves McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, Douglas B-66 Destroyer, North American F-100 Super Saber.

        F-18's refueling according to the “Buddy Store” method:

        Two methods:
        - “hose-cone” (probe-and-drogue system),
        - refueling using a telescopic rod (flying boom system).

        For some tanker aircraft equipped with the flying boom system, a special adapter is installed at the end of the fuel pipe in the form of a short length of the fuel hose (about 4-5 m) with a fuel cone at the end (Boom Drogue Adapter, BDA).