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Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker

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Four U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, assigned to the 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Guard, taxi prior to take off from the Sioux Gateway Airport in Sioux City, Iowa, Sept. 3, 2009. The aircraft are departing for a local air-refueling mission.
The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is a military aerial refueling aircraft. It and the Boeing 707 airliner were developed from the Boeing 367-80 prototype. The KC-135 was the US Air Force's first jet-powered refueling tanker and replaced the KC-97 Stratotanker. The Stratotanker was initially tasked to refuel strategic bombers, but was used extensively in the Vietnam War and later conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm to extend the range and endurance of US tactical fighters and bombers.

The KC-135 entered service with the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1957; it is one of six military fixed-wing aircraft with over 50 years of continuous service with its original operator. The KC-135 is supplemented by the larger KC-10. Despite increased maintenance costs, studies conclude many of the aircraft could be flown until 2040. The aircraft will eventually be replaced by the Northrop Grumman KC-45 Mesotanker and Boeing KC-46 Pegasus. The KC-135 is also in service in the Armée de l'Air and Royal Air Force though it is planned to replace it with Airbus A330 MRTT Voyager aerial tankers.

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  • United Kingdom
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  • United States
    • United States Air Force
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