Good evening, FighterSweep Fans! We hope you’ve had a great start to your work-week, and what would a Monday be without sharing a significant milestone in the aviation world.

Once again we are celebrating everything great about the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker–the backbone of our nation’s air-to-air refueling capability. On this day 59 years ago, the very first of its kind took to the sky and the United States Air Force has never been the same. As we stated previously, the “Iron Maiden” is one of only six aircraft to have fifty years of continuous service with its initial operator.

And though the -135 is in the twilight of her career with the Air Force, with the impending fielding of the KC-46 Pegasus, there are still many years of good service life left in the ol’ girl. Nearly two hundred will be replaced by the Pegasus, and the others will remain in service as long as they are viable, then slowly pass into the history books as the most prolific air refueling platform in history.



KC-135R by the numbers:

  • Vietnam: 813,000 aerial refuelings of combat aircraft
  • Desert Storm: 8,700 hookups and transferred 278 million pounds of fuel
  • 820: Number of C/KC-135s built by Boeing for refueling and other purposes
  • Range: 5,000 miles
  • Maximum Gross Weight: 297,000 pounds
  • Top Speed: 600mph
  • Ceiling: 41,000 feet

(Featured photo by Scott Wolff)