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This KC-135 features Block 45 upgrades which are designed to modernize the decades-old aircraft and improve its life expectancy. "The goal is to keep the planes non-obsolete, relevant and legal to fly," said Maj. Chris Brockman, 22nd Operations Support Squadron operations support training deputy chief. "We're trying to future-proof these planes." The upgrades include a liquid crystal display screen in the cockpit in place of older gauges on the instrumentation panel and a new autopilot function. The gauges used in current KC-135s are becoming more difficult to find and too expensive to purchase, said Brockman. The switch from analog gauges to a digital display will also affect aircraft maintenance and repairs. "As far as maintenance is concerned, the change to analog makes my job easier," said Tech. Sgt. King Sanders, 22nd Air Maintenance Squadron instruments flight controls lead technician. "It also replaces close to 10 other systems with one central computer."
Since the initial KC-135 PDM contract award in October 1998, Boeing’s team has completed scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on more than 160 aircraft. Along the way, they have reduced the number of days the aircraft are out of service for maintenance by 19%, and cut costs by 15% per aircraft.
Maj. Chris Brockman, 22nd Operations Group KC-135 Stratotanker Block 45 program chief pilot, Maj. Scot Stewart, 22nd OG Pilot, Capt. Travis Neal, 22nd OG instructor pilot, Lt. Col. Eugene Croft, 22nd OG deputy commander, and Senior Airman Josh Garrett, 350th Air Refueling Squadron Boom Operator, pose in front the wing’s first block 45 KC-135 Stratotanker to take off from here, July 22, 2013, at McConnell AFB, Kan. Block 45 is a program that addresses critical obsolete aircraft equipment and safety of flight issues. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jose L. Leon) McConnell Airmen flew a modified KC-135 Stratotanker July 22, 2013, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.