Tag Archives: Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker

Rare glimpse into a Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker flight simulator

This is the flight simulator used by KC-97 tanker pilots 60 years ago.

In 2012 the he 128th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard published an old press release, dated around 1968 touting the latest addition to their unit, a KC-97 flight simulator!  The used simulator came from the 116th Military Airlift Group out of Dobbins, Georgia that was converting from C-97Fs to C-124Cs and did not need the old Stratotanker simulator.

This behemoth simulator, built in 1953 was one of eleven ever made. Prior to the 116th using it, it was training pilots at Randolph AFB, Texas and also spent time at another air base in Florida. Weighing in at nine tons and costing $850,000, the simulator took three techs to maintain and program the analog computers for each training session.  The KC-97 simulator had 604 tubes, 117 motor-driven resistors, and 200 resistance cards to feed data into four computer racks. The press release states that the “power equipment around the device generates enough heat each hour to warm two small homes”.

These simulators were able to replicate normal flight and emergency situations like engine fires/failures, loss of altitude, and wind buffering.  Before receiving the simulator, the 128th had to send their pilots out of state for training.  Having one on base would save time and money for the Air Guard unit.

The 128th ARW flew KC-97s up until around 1977 when they were converted to KC-135As.  In the early 90s their fleet of 135A’s were upgraded to the current airframe, KC-135Rs.  The 128th still has a dedicated training simulator located on base, though now it is an all digital, full motion KC-135R simulator made by Boeing.

KC-97 Simulator front view

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


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U.S. to deploy 12 F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets to Japan

The U.S. Air Force has announced it is about to deploy “approximately 12 F-22 Raptors and about 300 personnel from Langley Air Force Base, Va.” to Kadena airbase, in Japan.

The deployment is expected in the next few days and its purpose is demonstrate Washington’s commitment to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific Region.

The aircraft will operate with the Kadena’s resident 18th Wing, which hosts the largest combat wing in the U.S. Air Force composed by F-15s, E-3s AWACS, KC-135s and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters.

The USAF has been rotating fighters to Pacific Command bases since March 2004, “in order to maintain a prudent deterrent against threats to regional security and stability,” according to the statement on the Air Force’s website.

U.S. continues to provide a Theater Security Package in the region by routinely deploying aircraft to the Pacific, a theater characterized by regional disputes and China’s growing naval ambitions.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


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Here’s another stunning selfie taken from the backseat of an F-16

This selfie was taken during an air-to-air refueling sortie involving F-16 and F-22 Raptor aircraft back in 2009 but it was recently uploaded on the New Jersey ANG Facebook page.

It shows the backseater of a 177th Fighter Wing’s F-16D (most probably an Air Force photographer rather than a pilot) out of Atlantic City, NJ, while the “Viper” is receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker‘s boom.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


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This is what refueling a B-1B bomber over Afghanistan looks like

A lonely B-1B Lancer flying a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Southern Afghanistan, refuels from a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron on Nov. 6, 2013.

The video is particularly interesting as it lets you understand how difficult maneuvering such a large bomber in the proper position to enable air-to-air refueling can be. And keep that position is a bit tricky.

Note the B-1 seemingly going into (minimum?) afterburner regime shortly after finishing the refueling operation, while breaking off the tanker.

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From the combat pilot’s point of view: mission over Afghanistan

The following video gives a hint of what a standard day of pilot deployed in Afghanistan looks like: high performance takeoff with an armed plane (in this case an F-16C belonging to the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard), rendez-vous with a KC-135 for an aerial refueling at dusk, combat air patrol before RTB (Return To Base) to Bagram.

Noteworthy: the beginning of the video doesn’t show the departure of the Viper from Bagram Air Field. Instead, it seems to show a fast low passage over the airport.

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