KC-135 aerial refuelling aircraft

The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed the Boom Operator Weapon Systems Trainer (BOWST) to train KC-135 aerial refuelling aircraft pilots at McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) in Kansas, US.

The CymSTAR-built BOWST is the first of ten such systems scheduled to be delivered to training sites around the US. The BOWST is used to train boom operators and allows instructors to test a student’s progress in a broad range of real-world scenarios, while saving money and flying hours in a safe environment.

As the KC-135 Aircrew Training System (ATS) programme prime contractor, CAE will incorporate the BOWSTs into the ATS as they are delivered, in addition to providing classroom and simulator instruction and contractor logistics, support and maintenance. The KC-135 Stratotanker was originally developed by Boeing to replace the KC-97 Stratotanker, and is used primarily to refuel aircraft during flight.

The upgraded KC-135s, equipped with a drogue and a flying boom to provide fuel transfer, are used for flying command posts, pure transport, electronic reconnaissance and photo-mapping craft.

CEA Systems site manager David Kramer said: "The BOWST came about because the air force wants to drive down the cost of training and get out of the air and on the ground to save money."

Ricky Rupp, 22nd Air Refuelling Wing commander colonel, said: "The KC-135 boom operator weapon systems trainer we are receiving today will play a vital role in helping train our aircrews to meet our global air refuelling mission."

CEA Systems boom operator instructor Mike Adams said that the BOWST enables operators to focus on various student qualification requirements, emergency procedures and other pre-deployment actions.

Image: The Boom Operator Weapon Systems Trainer (BOWST) will be used to train pilots of KC-135 aerial refuelling aircraft.