KC-135's get Block 45 Upgrade-to continue flying to 2040!

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posted on Jun, 24 2013 @ 01:07 PM
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As Robin Williams once told me at a USO show, "the big boob in the sky" is getting an upgrade to keep it flying for another 30 years or so with it's block 45 upgrade. This upgrade will incorporate a new upgraded instrument panel, including a new LCD display, getting rid of the old analog dials and keeping maintenece costs from skyrocketing by streamlining the maintenence, and taking 10 different systems and incorporating them into one brain.


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."


Before and after:



Close ups:






Tanker




posted on Jun, 24 2013 @ 01:15 PM
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i just hope they keep the parts to a u.s.a supplier with to many systems being sourced from over seas / china .

still pxxxx me of the u.k sold you the harrier fleet on the cheap after spending a billion on upgrades



posted on Jun, 24 2013 @ 08:35 PM
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Nice that they are finally getting the glass cockpit upgrade, but it's really sad that they have to keep flying that long. It's ridiculous that the KC-135 and B-52 will be approaching 100 by the time they retire.



posted on Jun, 24 2013 @ 09:30 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


It isn't sad - it is economics, and there is no reason why they shouldn't do it - if the tool is good for the job why invent a new tool to do exactly the same thing??

however I shortly expect chemtrail forums to start complaining that the spraying is going to be extended.....



posted on Jun, 24 2013 @ 09:35 PM
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reply to post by Aloysius the Gaul
 


Because of the fact that these tools are becoming obsolete, and even with the upgrades, difficult to maintain. The B-52 is a missile truck now, and that's about all it's good for. It can't penetrate modern defenses, but it's still the backbone of the bomber fleet in terms of numbers and reliability. Why have a bunch of tools that can't do the job nearly as well as new ones could, or that are expensive to keep in your toolbox when newer tools are more flexible and cheaper.



posted on Jun, 24 2013 @ 10:35 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


Because they are not actually expensive at all compared to developing what you want - consider the maintenance of a B-2 vs a B-52, and the development costs of a B-2.

It is no longer practical or desirable to have manned strategic bombers over the target when missiles can "do it all" - so why not have "just" a "missile truck"?

Tankers can also have their lives extended for much less cost than new - eg witness the cost of the new tankers for the USAF vs a $1.1 billion "heavy" maintenance budget for KC-135 fleet for 10 years - that's only $110 million per year - or less than 1/2 the cost of 1 x KC-46 per-annum!

and in addition:


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.


the air force HAS retired (or is retiring) it's oldest KC-135's - but it has a sizeable fleet that has plenty of service life left on the airframe and which is cheaper to maintain than buying new a/c.

No doubt the 135 fleet will all be retired in due course - but there is no need to waste money doing so before necessary!



posted on Jun, 24 2013 @ 10:42 PM
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All of the military tech that is exposed to the public on a regular basis is "old" compared to what the military consider "current" in their technology stream... The day the B-2 Bomber was unveiled was them saying "Hey people this is our latest piece of high-tech,...( from 30 years ago")...LOL!... All military hardware that is shown to the public is essentially moth-balled...



posted on Jun, 24 2013 @ 11:26 PM
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reply to post by Aloysius the Gaul
 


Cost for one. The B-52 fleet is even older than the tanker fleet, minus some of the upgrades. They're going to get more and more expensive to maintain, just as the tankers will too. Even with upgrades the aircraft will require more and more maintenance. Eventually age will catch up to them, whether they have airframe life left or not. It's already starting to, even with the younger aircraft. Several of the upgrades also ended up causing more trouble then they were worth (the digital fuel management system for one, Jesus that was a pain in the ass).



posted on Jun, 24 2013 @ 11:31 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


Yes certainly the cost will increase - and eventually it will probably increase to the point where replacement is the better economic argument.

but that time isn't yet.



posted on Jun, 24 2013 @ 11:40 PM
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reply to post by Aloysius the Gaul
 


It isn't just cost though, that's just the biggest factor. There's ease of maintenance, availability of spares, ability to carry out the mission.... When the R model first came on scene we would launch at 210,000 lbs, with a 110 offload. Within a few years due to having to change the flight profile, we were limited to about a 185 loadout with an 85 offload. The new engines relegated a slower climb and shallower climb angle due to the strain on the airframe among other factors.



posted on Jun, 29 2013 @ 01:36 AM
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you know, when the KC 135 is finally retired I think they could convert them nicely to roles as fire planes on forest fires. they just have to install sealed belly doors. the things already have bad ass tanks inside of them. Even if it does get forced into an early retirement I think itll still get used for a long time.



posted on Jun, 29 2013 @ 10:01 AM
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Well than, the KC-135 will stay with us for a long time



posted on Jun, 29 2013 @ 11:27 AM
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reply to post by Latrodectus
 


The T models would be perfect because you have separate controls of the body tanks. So you could theoretically have water in those tanks and fuel for the jet in the wing tanks.



posted on Jun, 29 2013 @ 01:31 PM
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Surely they could eject ALCM's out of the back of a C-17 and have just as effective a bomber as the B-52 is now?



posted on Jun, 29 2013 @ 04:08 PM
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reply to post by waynos
 


Several of the Aegis BMD target missiles have been pushed out the back of C-17s and launched, and worked just fine.



posted on Jul, 3 2013 @ 03:02 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


How much of those aircraft will be original by the time they reach 100? Will they be like Triggers Broom, which he had for 20 years with only 17 new heads and 14 new handles?


en.wikipedia.org...(Only_Fools_and_Horses)



posted on Jul, 3 2013 @ 03:07 PM
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reply to post by waynos
 


Pretty much yes. But it's the internal structure that's wearing out. They're starting to see corrosion cropping up more (in small amounts so far luckily).



posted on Jul, 23 2013 @ 02:31 AM
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McConnell gets its first Block 45 tanker for training the rest of the wing.


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.


McConnell Facebook Page

A pic of the flight deck:





Pretty sweet looking. I like the new gear indicators!



posted on Jul, 23 2013 @ 05:25 AM
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reply to post by boomer135
 


About time they go to a glass cockpit though honestly. I remember Speckled Trout coming through a long time ago with it.






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