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CAE USA has been re-awarded a $275 million contract to continue KC-135 training for another eight years (in one year options). The company first started classroom and simulator training for pilots and refuelling boom operators in 2010.

The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is the mainstay platform delivering aerial refuelling for the United States Air Force (USAF). The first 29 Stratotankers were acquired in 1954 with the final aircraft of an eventual 732 aircraft fleet being delivered in 1965. The fleet has now been reduced to around 396 aircraft: USAF active duty, 153; Air National Guard, 171; Air Force Reserve, 72. This provides a pool of over 4,500 crewmen who require some aspect of training annually.

Naturally with such a mature aircraft, modifications and life-cycle upgrades have been extensive including new CFM-56 engines produced by CFM-International (designated either the KC-135R or KC-135T), together with improved communications, navigation, autopilot and surveillance equipment.

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Ensuring that the crew of three (pilot, co-pilot and boom operator) remain current for all roles (including surveillance) with a variety of operating forces including the Marine Corps and aircraft from allied nations requires a mix of classroom and simulator training programmes. In addition to supporting the 12 USAF training sites (which include Kadena Air Base, Japan and Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom), CAE USA has added a further 12 National Guard air bases operating the KC-135 BOSS as well Joint Base Pearl Harbor; Pittsburgh ANGB; General Mitchell ANGB; and Rickenbacker ANGB.

CAE USA is supported in this enterprise by industry partners Delaware Resource Group (DRG), Cardinal Point, FAAC, and CymSTAR.

by Andrew Drwiega