KC-135 tankers get a boost from innovative, fuel-saving engines

By on Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Some decades-old KC-135 Stratotanker are drinking from the fountain of youth — or at least the engines are.

Airmen installed the first of 1,440 upgraded Stratotanker engines at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 15. The 1970s engine parts will be replaced with modern engines that burn less fuel and run longer without repairs, officials said.

“We expect the engine to stay on wing for 20-plus years and take the KC-135 into retirement,” said Senior Master Sgt. Dong Kim, Air Mobility Command’s propulsion branch chief.

Mounting the CFM Propulsion Upgrade Program on KC-135 and Navy E-6B Mercury culminates almost three years of work between Air Mobility Command, Air Force Material Command, the Navy and the original equipment manufacturer, CFM International.

The C-PUP engine delivered to MacDill AFB is the first of 15 that will be delivered by General Electric Aviation under an F108 engine augmentation contract.

The refurbished engines upgrade the high pressure compressor and turbine sections of the KC-135’s F108 engine, a military variant of the CFM56-2 engine.

More than half of the engines on the KC-135 have not seen depot rework since they were initially installed; some dating back to 1984.

The engine depot at Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex expects to deliver the first organically produced C-PUP engine later this year and is planning to produce 120 annually. The upgrade effort is projected to take 12 years to complete and will affect 1,440 engines, according to officials.

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