Aircraft repair depot realizes more than $2 billion in savings to taxpayers

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 By: Paula Burkes Source: NewsOK

A buzz of activity surrounds a KC-135 aerial refueling tanker, which sits atop secure jacks on the shop floor in Building 3001 at Tinker Air Force Base.

The aircraft — crucial to the U.S. Air Force's good fight in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria — has been pulled from service for its five-year programmed maintenance.

Every inch of the plane is being repaired or replaced with new parts, so it will be virtually new when it's reinstated to service. The KC-135 turns 61 years old this month (October), but the U.S. Air Force plans to fly the aircraft into the 2040s.

Repairmen — mostly civilian airmen — had to remove the plane's tail because it was too tall to get it into the 70-year-old building. New hangars are being built across the base to accommodate the new KC-46 tankers — the replacements for the K-135s — which are coming next year and will bring 1,300 new jobs.

Meanwhile, there's an ongoing, delicately choreographed ballet underway, moving the eight KC-135s, which currently are under repair, in and out of Building 3001.

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