SEATTLE -- The timing of this particular Movie Monday is very intentional. This coming Friday Boeing and Airbus will submit their bid to the Department of Defense to replace 179 KC-135 (Boeing 707) tanker aircraft. The on-going KC-X tanker saga has stretched almost a decade now and my colleague, Steve Trimble, has closely followed the competition through its strange twists and turns. As a quick reminder, Boeing is offering its 767 NewGen Tanker (adapted from the 767-200ER) and Airbus is offering the A330 Multi-role Tanker Transport (adapted from the A330-200).
Movie Monday today is a 23min 1967 film from the DoD that features the operations of the US Air Force KC-135 tankers in service to F-4s, B-52s, F-105s, operating into Vietnam near the height of the war. The last KC-135 was delivered to the USAF in 1965, making the fleet flying today nearly a half-century old.
The about 150 KC-135As, powered by four Pratt & Whitney J57-P-59W were converted to KC-135Es with P&W TF-33-PW-102 (JT3D). Additionally, a larger block of KC-135As were re-engined with the GE/Snecma F108 (CFM56) engines and became KC-135Rs. The CFM56 engines supply 22,500lbs of thrust compared to the 10,000lbs of thrust of the original J57s. The re-engining allowed two KC-135Rs to do the job previously performed by three KC-135As.
I'll be in Seattle for the next week, first covering the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference in Lynnwood on Tuesday and Wednesday (which has already produced KC-X news) then heading into the weekend's briefings with Boeing leading up to Sunday's unveiling of the 747-8 Intercontinental. There will be no shortage of things going on this week. Most updates will be coming through via twitter, so make sure to follow me there.