One of the two training-configured TC-135W aircraft made an appearance at the Malta International Air Show 2023, last month.
The annual airshow organized by the Malta Aviation Society at the Malta International Airport in Luqa, has always attracted some really “exotic” attendees. The latest edition, held only on Saturday Sept. 23, 2023 (as the Sunday’s flying displays were cancelled due to adverse weather), was no exception.
Among the participants that took part in this year’s airshow, the rarest one was probably the TC-135W of the U.S. Air Force, coming from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
The aircraft, registration 62-4127/MSN 18467, is one of the two TC-135Ws assigned to the 55th Wing and the first to feature a glass cockpit modification as part of the fleet-wide “Baseline Charlie” program in 2019. It was built in 1962 as a RC-135A before being converted firstly in 2005 as a RC-135 and then again into a TC-135W at some point.
Flying as MAVRK 55 and operated by the 238th Combat Training Squadron of the 55th Wing, the aircraft arrived in Malta via RAF Waddington, UK, on Sept. 21.
🇺🇸Boeing TC-135W Stratolifter MAVRK55 pic.twitter.com/BwNpx5Gwji
— 360°Radar (@wipljw) September 21, 2023
Here’s a nice clip of the arrival in Luqa.
Its presence in Malta marked also the first time a TC-135W attended an airshow in Europe.
After the airshow, the TC-135W flew again to RAF Waddington on Sept. 25. The trainer aircraft spent a few days in the UK, conducting routine flight deck training with their colleagues at the Royal Air Force’s 51 Squadron.
According to RAF, while in the U.S. Air Force, the crew also shared knowledge and expertise of engine-running crew changes and hot pit refueling. The goal was to help 51 Squadron develop its approach towards Agile Combat Employment options for their commanders.
While combined force tactics is nothing new, ACE requires a higher degree of interoperability in the critical activities of command and control, engineering and logistics, base defense, intelligence-sharing and others, says an official release.
The TC-135W jets serve (62-4127 and 4129) serve as training aircraft primarily for the Rivet Joint mission, but can also provide some training capability for RC-135U Combat Sent crews. They carry considerably fewer antennas than the fully equipped aircraft, but are otherwise similar in appearance to other Rivet Joint aircraft.
Returning To Offutt AFB 🇺🇸 After A Short Deployment To RAF Waddington 🇬🇧 & Malta International Airport (For The Malta International Air Show 2023). pic.twitter.com/09AUcoPD4t
— SkyScanWorld ✈️🚁📡 (@scan_sky) September 29, 2023