Air Force to host industry day for KC-135 upgrade

By Michael Marrow / May 18, 2022 at 12:11 PM

The Air Force is hosting an industry day on June 3 to explore upgrades for the KC-135 COMM 2 Video Data Link-2000 communications system, according to a notice posted by the service today.

Plans for the upgrades are detailed in the service’s fiscal year 2023 research, development, test and evaluation budget justification documents. According to the documents, the Air Force is seeking a suite of four enhancements that will improve the aircraft’s fuel management, flight display and communications systems.

The COMM 2 modernization will replace the ARC-210 radios onboard the aircraft that are slated to become obsolete in October 2023. Updates for the radios, which first entered service in the 1990s, are being sought due to new requirements for encryption and anti-jam capabilities, according to the justification documents.

The oldest in the air refueling fleet, the KC-135 Stratotanker first entered service in 1956. Air Force officials plan to continue flying the aircraft until the 2050s as the aircraft is gradually divested alongside deliveries of the KC-46. According to legislative proposals recently released by the department, the Air Force is seeking to accelerate its divestment of the aircraft by retiring a total of 31 in FY-23.