The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed KC-135 Stratotankers to French Air Base to support combat operations in Mali and North Africa as part of Operation Juniper Micron.
50 Airmen from the 100th Air Refuelling Wing (ARW) at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, along three KC-135 Stratotankers, will temporarily move to Istres-Le Tubé Air Base, France.
The latest development follows the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) continual evaluation of the best ways to support French ally forces in the air and on the ground.
Equipped with CFM International CFM-56 engines, the KC-135R aircraft is capable of offloading 50% more fuel on a medium-radius, 1,725-mile refuelling mission.
The KC-135R is capable of refuelling probe / drogue and boom / receptacle aircraft on a single mission and to refuel two probe / drogue aircraft simultaneously.
Of the 546 KC-135s currently in service with the USAF, 410 of the USAF fleet have been re-engined. The remainder have Pratt & Whitney TF33-102 engines.
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USAF said: "Since December 2015 alone, the 100th ARW has flown more than 750 sorties, refuelled more than 2,900 French aircraft, and off-loaded nearly 28 million pounds of fuel while supporting French operations."
KC-135 Stratotankers are in service in the air forces of the USA, France, Turkey and Singapore.
Image: Three KC-135 Stratotankers has been temporarily deployed to Istres-Le Tubé Air Base, France. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Senior Airman Erin Trower.