U.S. Air Force KC-135 tankers surpass 100,000 combat hours

By Ryan Maass  |  Jan. 8, 2016 at 4:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force's Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker fleet has flown an accumulated 103,000 combat hours.

The tanker planes reached the 100,000-hour mark after the fleet stationed at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar flew over 14,700 sorties in 2015 supporting operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom's Sentinel. 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron director Lt. Col. James Murray said over 60 planes were used to accumulate the combat flight hours.

"We provide refueling to every flying unit in the area of responsibility which is Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan and supported 12 coalition nations," Murray explained. "We support aircraft 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year so they can do their mission."

The KC-135 is used to provide aerial refueling to support aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, and allied aircraft. An Air Force Stratotanker crew flies an average of seven hours a day, carrying an average of 50,000 gallons of fuel per mission.

"Imagine 12 airplanes flying 24 hours a day, it's incredible," Murray added. "If we were not out there to give gas to all our receivers they we would have to fly shorter missions."

The Boeing-made tanker has a range of approximately 1,500 miles, and has a cargo capacity of 83,000 pounds.

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