Serving with the United States Air Force (USAF) since 1957, it is one of just 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 Extender. Many stidies conclude that the aircraft could be operational until 2040. The aircraft is expected to be replaced by the Boeing KC-46 in future.
Data from USAF Fact Sheet. General characteristics
- Crew: 3: pilot, co-pilot and boom operator. Some KC-135 missions require the addition of a navigator.
- Capacity: 37 passengers
- Payload: 83,000 lb (37,600 kg)
- Length: 136 ft 3 in (41.53 m)
- Wingspan: 130 ft 10 in (39.88 m)
- Height: 41 ft 8 in (12.70 m)
- Wing area: 2,433 ft² (226 m²)
- Empty weight: 98,466 lb (44,663 kg)
- Loaded weight: 297,000 lb (135,000 kg)
- Useful load: 200,000 lb (90,700 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 322,500 lb (146,000 kg)
- Powerplant: 4 × CFM International CFM56 (F108-CF-100) turbofan, 21,634 lbf () each
- Maximum Fuel Load: 31,275 US gal (118 m³)