Aircraft Wiki
KC-135 Stratotanker Aerial Refueling Aircraft

A KC-135 Stratotanker in flight.

The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is a military aircraft designed for aerial refuelling. It was developed alongside the Boeing 707 airliner from the Boeing 367-80 prototype. The KC-135 is also considered as the US Air Force's first jet-powered refueling tanker, it has replaced the KC-97 Stratofreighter. The Stratotanker was initially designed to refuel strategic bombers, however it was used extensively in the Vietnam War and later conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm to extend the range and endurance of US tactical fighters and bombers.

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 the original operator. The KC-135 is supplemented by the larger KC-10 Extender. Studies suggest that the aircraft could remain operational until 2040. The aircraft is expected to be replaced by the Boeing KC-46 in future.


Current Operators

RSAF KC-135R 752 NZAA 2018

A Republic of Singapore Air Force KC-135R at Auckland Airport in early 2019.

  • Chile - Air Force - 3x KC-135E
  • France - Armée de L'air - 3x KC-135R, 11x C-135FR
  • Turkey - Air Force - 7x KC-135R
  • United States - Air Force - 342x KC-135R, 54x KC-135T

Former Operators

  • Singapore - Air Force - 4x KC-135R

Specifications (KC-135R)[]


Tail of an Air Force Reserve Command KC-135R tanker showing refueling boom

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)