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USAF upgrades first Turkish KC-135

15th September 2021 - 14:28 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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A Turkish KC-135R Stratotanker taxis on the runway at the Field Aerospace facility in Oklahoma City. (Photo: USAF)

A second Turkish KC-135 is currently undergoing the new modification, with the remaining fleet expected to receive the update no later than 2023.

The first of seven Turkish KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft recently returned to Turkey after receiving a major flight deck upgrade at Field Aerospace in Oklahoma City under the Block 45 upgrade programme.

The USAF announced on 14 September that the inside of the aircraft’s flight deck was completely remodelled by replacing instruments that are considered high-maintenance or obsolete.

It had 63 parts replaced and received new liquid crystal displays, radio altimeter, computer module updates, autopilot and a digital flight director.

A second Turkish KC-135 is currently being modified, with the remaining fleet expected to receive the upgrade no later than 2023.

A press release from the USAF claimed that Block 45 makes it easier for pilots to operate the aircraft and notice malfunctions faster also helps with the sustainment of the aircraft in the long run.

The USAF KC-135 fleet is also receiving the Block 45 modification and has seen an increase in aircraft availability as a result, said John Wilson, programme manager at the USAF Mobility and Training Aircraft Directorate.

According to Shephard Defence Insight, the KC-135 entered service in 1957 with the USAF and remains the service’s primary aerial tanker. The air force plans to keep the type flying beyond 2040 when it will be replaced by the Boeing KC-46. 

Of the 803 built, 416 are in US service. In addition to Turkey, the aircraft is also operated by Chile and France. 

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