The U.S. Air Force announced on Feb. 22 that it had retired the "first operational KC-135R" from service, when tail number 61-0312 arrived at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. However, Aviation Week Intelligence Network's Fleet database records KC-135R tail number 60-0319 arriving for storage on Jun. 20, 2012. It's unclear therefore why the folks at Altus proclaimed this month's arrival as the "first".
In the 1980s and 1990s the USAF re-engined over 400 tankers with more powerful and efficient CFM-56 engines, designated KC-135R or KC-135T. These are now the only KC-135s in the fleet and are expected to soldier on for many years yet.
Often referred to as the "boneyard", the vast desert storage location at Davis-Monthan holds almost 4,000 US military aircraft, mainly for parts, but also for future re-activation or sales to domestic and foreign government agencies. Pictured are some older model KC-135s never to fly again, but still a valuable source of parts for the large active fleet.
Photo: Nigel Howarth