Legacy Tankers keep the fuel flowing

  • Published
  • By Daryl Mayer
  • AFLCMC Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFLCMC) – There is an adage in the Air Force that illustrates the importance of aerial refueling: “No fuel, no fight.”
It is the reason the Air Force maintains hundreds of tanker aircraft, many of which are in the air flying missions around the clock. Those tankers keep the fleet flying. The AFLCMC Mobility Directorate keeps those tankers flying.    
Located on Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, the Legacy Tanker Division is responsible for both the 1980s vintage-KC-10 Extender and the older KC-135 Stratotanker. The entire 200-person division of military, civilians and contractors includes engineers, contracting officials, logisticians and financial management professionals.   
“The fleet of KC-135s is really supported Air Force-wide,” said Col. R. Mark Mocio, Legacy Tanker Division Chief in a recent episode of AFLCMC’s Leadership Log podcast. “The KC-135 is 100 percent organic.  So much support comes from throughout the Air Force and we’re just happy to be part of that big team.”    
Specifically, Mocio cited the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, AFLCMC Propulsion Directorate, Simulators Directorate, the 448th Supply Chain Management Wing and industry partners all playing a major role in keeping this venerable aircraft fueling the fleet.   
Based on the Boeing 707, an aircraft often cited as the beginning of the jet age, the KC-135 has been the workhorse of the Air Force for much of six decades. The Air Force acquired more than 700 of the four-engined aircraft between 1957 and 1965.
“Born out of the depth of the Cold War, the KC-135 was really built and designed to drag B-52s around the globe supporting the nuclear deterrence mission,” Mocio said.  “Today, we do so much more.” 
The Stratotanker has been re-engined twice. The original J-57 engines were replaced with TF-33s and then in the 1990s, the F108s were installed. The latter has “proven to be just a great investment for the Air Force and for the nation,” Mocio said. 
About the same time as the F108s were being added, the KC-135 went through a series of flight deck updates which included Global Air Traffic Management, Communication, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management leading to the Block 45 update under way today. These moves pulled the aircraft out of the analog age into a modern cockpit today.
“There is no air space we can’t operate in worldwide, thanks to that modernization sequence and we’re more reliable and postured for growth into the future,” he said.

To hear the full conversation, you can watch Leadership Log on YouTube at https://youtu.be/uZy1qLIEYz0. You can also listen by searching “Leadership Log” on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Overcast, Radio Public or Breaker.