Edwards Airmen Wrap KC-135 Life-Extension Tests

Testers at Edwards AFB, Calif., this month completed a series of evaluations of the KC-135 tanker’s Block 45 upgrades, according to a base release. These improvements are meant to extend the aircraft’s service life for decades and help bridge the gap until the arrival of the Air Force’s new KC-46A tankers, states the April 26 release. “The Block 45 modification was needed to extend the KC-135 aircraft as a viable weapon system through Fiscal Year 2040,” said Maj. John Mikal, KC-135 Block 45 lead project test pilot with Edwards’ 418th Flight Test Squadron. “The Block 45 systems mitigate capability gaps and improve overall KC-135 shortcomings in reliability, maintainability, and supportability,” he said. The upgrades include a new digital flight director, radar altimeter, an electronic engine instrument display, and navigation and air traffic management enhancements so that the venerable tankers may continue to operate safely in commercial and military airspace throughout the world, according to the release. (Edwards report by Jet Fabera) (See also Tankers in Unknown Territory from Air Force Magazine’s archives.)