Even the sleekest and innovative fighter jets have a limit to how far they can fly before they need to refuel, and that’s where the KC-135, otherwise known as the “stratotanker,” comes in. Developed after the Boing 367-80 prototype, the aerial refueling aircraft has been in service for a long time and has shown no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Piloted by a crew of three and boasting a staggering 37 passenger capacity, the KC-135 is a sight to behold. It’s 41 feet and 8 inches high, a little over 136 feet long, and weighs in at max capacity at close to 300,000 pounds. The KC-135 has been used for missions outside of aerial refueling, however, and was even adopted by NASA and stripped of its tanker equipment to be used as their famed “Vomit Comet” zero gravity simulator aircraft.
While the current fleet of KC-135s is not new by any means, according to the Air Force they seem to be aging very gracefully. In fact, each aircraft is expected to have a maximum of 39,000 hours of flight time, and by the year 2040, only a slight few of these aircraft would be nearing that amount.
Check out this cool plane for yourself in the video below: