German Air Force officers boarded a U.S. Air Force KC-135 mid-air refueling aircraft where they got to ride along during a refueling mission with the Iowa National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing.
During the flight they crawled in the back of the aircraft in order to witness a mid-air refueling of F-16 fighter aircraft.
Following the flight they were allowed to take the helm in a KC-135 refueling simulator, where they practiced refueling while safely on the ground.
As part of the Defense Military Reserve Exchange Program, officers from various NATO member states come to the United States to get first had look at how military reserve organizations in the U.S. operate.
The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is a military aerial refueling aircraft. Both the KC-135 and the Boeing 707 airliner were developed from the Boeing 367-80 prototype. It is the predominant variant of the C-135 Stratolifter family of transport aircraft. The KC-135 was the US Air Force’s first jet-powered refueling tanker and replaced the KC-97 Stratofreighter. The KC-135 was initially tasked with refueling strategic bombers, but was used extensively in the Vietnam War and later conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm to extend the range and endurance of US tactical fighters and bombers.
The KC-135 entered service with the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1957; it is one of six military fixed-wing aircraft with over 50 years of continuous service with its original operator. The KC-135 is supplemented by the larger KC-10. Studies have concluded that many of the aircraft could be flown until 2040, although maintenance costs have greatly increased. The KC-135 is to be replaced by the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus.