A Half Century and Counting

Ten of the 16 KC-135 tankers in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 171st Air Refueling Wing turn 50 years old this year, and the remainder will reach this milestone next year, the Beaver County Times & Allegheny Times Online reported April 7. Despite their age, which is slightly above the 47-year average for the KC-135 fleet, these aircraft are in excellent condition thanks to an aggressive maintenance and inspection program, wing spokesman Lt. Col. Don Accamando, told the newspapers. They received new engines earlier this decade, he said. Accamando said it is unclear when the 171st will receive the Air Force’s new KC-45A tanker. The wing’s KC-135s likely will be flying “well into the teens, probably beyond 2020,” he said. “They’re not going to retire any models here soon.”