If you’re a tanker pilot cruising 30,000 feet above the ground while transferring fuel to a hundred-million-dollar fighter jet bound for a critical air superiority mission, you want to have absolute confidence in your plane.
You need confidence that your aircraft will fly with precision, your refueling boom will lock onto the receiving aircraft like it’s on a tractor beam, and the fuel will flow quickly and smoothly.
Boeing is the only aircraft maker in the world that can give U.S. airmen that confidence. Why? Because for nearly six decades, Boeing has produced tanker aircraft that are the gold standard for in-flight refueling, using a patented boom refueling system and superior airframes.
The Air Force first turned to Boeing in the 1940s to retrofit B-29 bombers as refueling aircraft. It was then that Boeing developed the first patented "flying boom" system, which transferred fuel much faster than "hose and drogue" systems that were in use. A few years later, the Air Force purchased more than 811 of Boeing’s KC-97 Stratotankers – the first specialized tanker aircraft – which gave the U.S. air superiority on a truly global scale.
Boeing has always made state-of-the-art technology and quality manufacturing its top priorities.
Boeing continues to update the original KC-135 tankers that the Pentagon purchased in the 1950s and 1960s, and despite their age, those tankers are still the workhorses of the Air Force refueling fleet. Many other countries, including France, Singapore and Turkey, fly the KC-135 tankers or similar variants.
Chalk it up to a forward-thinking design and a uniquely experienced work force: Boeing builds tankers on the cutting edge of technology that are also built to last.
Boeing’s KC-7A7 designs continue that legacy of refueling expertise and excellence. Benefiting from fifth-generation flying boom technology, the KC-7A7 transfers fuel more safely and more reliably than any other aircraft in the world. And advanced avionics and proven airframes make them the most survivable and nimble widebody aircraft ever.
The U.S. Air Force needs the world’s best tanker aircraft to maintain its global reach for the next half century. It needs the United States’ next tanker: the KC-7A7.