KC-767s slated for stateside AF bases
Stars and Stripes June 26, 2003
Don’t look for new Boeing 767 tanker aircraft to be assigned to overseas bases in the immediate future.
The Air Force last week released a plan to retire 133 KC-135E Stratotankers — their average age is 43 — and replace them with 100 KC-767A tankers leased from Boeing.
In the Pacific, the 909th Air Refueling Squadron at Okinawa’s Kadena Air Base flies updated R models of the KC-135 and likely will continue to do so, an Air Force spokesman said.
Current plans do not include the KC-767 “in any overseas locations,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Rob Koon said in an e-mail response to a Stripes query.
The Air Force plans to retire the older tankers gradually “while bringing on the next generation aircraft,” Koon said.
Plans for 2004 to 2017 call for adding 100 new KC-767s as KC-135Es are retired, he said. Plans also call for keeping more than 400 KC-135Rs flying, even after 2017.
The KC-135Es have the distinction of being the Air Force’s oldest combat weapon system, he said.
The Boeing 767 tanker transport is a high-performance version of Boeing’s 767-200ER twin aisle commercial jetliner.
The Air Force has agreed to lease the 767s for six years starting in 2006, a strategy allowing the service to begin replacing its older tankers three years earlier than planned, officials have said.
“The KC-135Es all reside in the Air National Guard and AF Reserve,” Koon said. “In the Air Force Reserve, active-duty KC-135Rs will backfill the E-models one-for-one as they are retired and sent to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.”
The Air Force’s “tanker roadmap” also covers realigning the tanker force structure. Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., is to be the first active-duty base to receive KC-767s. Eventually, it will house 32 of the new tankers, the Air Force said.
Other bases set to receive the new tankers include Grand Forks AFB, N.D., MacDill AFB, Fla., and Robins AFB, Ga.