SINGAPORE IS considering an offer from the US Air Force to sell it up to four surplus Boeing KC-135s, as a more cost-effective solution to its requirement for a boom-equipped aerial-refueling tanker.

A Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) team is understood recently to have visited the USA to evaluate the tanker and inspect surplus KC-135 airframes stored in the desert at Davis Monthan AFB, in Arizona.

The aircraft would be upgraded before delivery to a standard similar to that of the USAF's KC-135R. The RSAF requires two aircraft initially, with an option for a further two. The upgrade would either be contracted to the USAF or to Singapore Technologies Aerospace.

Proposed work would include re-engineing the KC-135s with CFM56-2 turbofans, fitting twin Flight Refueling Mk.32 under-wing hose-drum units for probe-and-drogue operations and a new electronic-flight-information system-equipped glass cockpit.

Purchasing and upgrading secondhand KC-135s is viewed as a more attractive option for Singapore than the more expensive commercial offers from Airbus Industrie, Boeing, Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and McDonnell Douglas (MDC).

Neither the Airbus A310 nor Boeing 767-200ER tanker versions has yet been developed for an end user, while the MDC KDC-10-30 is considered to be too large, and the older IAI Bedek 707 conversion too expensive to operate and maintain (Flight International, 14-20 February).

The RSAF had looked at trying to lease KC-135s from the USAF, but was told that there were insufficient CFM56-powered tankers available to be released. A decision had originally been due by the end of 1995, but selection has been postponed to April.

Source: Flight International