USAF grounds KC-135 Stratotanker fleet over concerns their tails may fall off mid-flight
Efforts to replace the Air Force’s KC-135 fleet have been underway for at least two decades
The U.S. Air Force has ordered its entire fleet of KC-135 tankers to be grounded for inspection over concerns that their tails could fall off mid-flight if not properly fixed.
The USAF ordered the inspections on Tuesday for a “non-conforming part in the vertical tail assembly.” Flight operations are restricted until the roughly 30-minute inspection is complete.
A KC-135 stratotanker sits on the tarmac at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada during Red Flag training exercises. (Fox News)
Tuesday’s order follows a Friday directive for each KC-135 tanker to be inspected for non-conforming vertical terminal fitting pins, or tail pins.
Friday’s requirement is to take place over the next two weeks, while the more recent directive requires inspections prior to the next flight.
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“We’re taking this action out of an abundance of caution, after consulting with our engineering experts,” Col. Michael Kovalchek, Senior Materiel Leader with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Legacy Tanker Division, said in a statement. “We are working closely with Air Mobility Command and all operational users and anticipate all potentially affected aircraft will be inspected.”