Air Force Requests Information on KC-135 Tanker Replacement Program

(Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (WA-05) announced today that the Department of the Air Force released a Request for Information (RFI) to private industries regarding the KC-135 Tanker Replacement Program (KC-X) and complementary Air Refueling capabilities. The purpose of the RFI is to ensure early industry involvement and gather information on KC-X platforms and concepts.

“This is an important step that shows the Air Force is moving ahead with the process of replacing our aging KC-135 tankers,” said McMorris. “One of my top priorities is to promote missions and projects that will expand Fairchild Air Force Base and ensure our national security. This is positive news for Fairchild that is currently home to an overworked and aging fleet of tankers.”

The RFI was released following extensive studies analyzing the visibility of the existing fleet, and the anticipation the Air Force’s projected needs. The current fleet is flying over 200% of the Air Force’s anticipated flying hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

McMorris, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has been vocal on the need for new air refueling tankers. The primary purpose of the KC-X program is to replace the war-fighting capability provided by the KC-135 fleet. The Air Force predicts that complete replacement of the KC-135 fleet will take between 25-35 years, meaning that some planes will be over 80 years old before they are replaced. Costs of maintaining the aging fleet, which is the oldest in the Air Force, are also increasing. The Air Force estimates that maintaining the KC-135 tankers would cost $46.8 billion through 2040.

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