The KC-135 Stratotanker is the first jet powered aerial refueling tanker of the United States Air Force. Taking its first flight in the 1950’s, it is one of six military aircraft with over 50 years of continuous service. The KC-135 has been used to extend the range and endurance of tactical fighters and bombers, and ultimately enhance their missions. It is most well-known for its extensive use in the Vietnam War and Desert Storm. Because of this aircraft, combat aircraft were no longer limited by fuel supplies, which enabled them to spend more time in their target areas. Initially the aircraft was used to refuel strategic bombers.
The KC-135 Stratotanker provides the core aerial refueling capability for the United States Air Force. This unique asset enhances the Air Force’s capability to accomplish its primary missions of Global Reach and Global Power. It also provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft. The KC-135 is also capable of transporting litter and ambulatory patients using patient support pallets during aero medical evacuations.