Two Air Force KC-135 Stratotankers from Florida arrived at Fairchild Air Force Base on Monday night ahead of Hurricane Ian.
The two stratotankers and their crew flew from Fairchild’s sister base, MacDill Air Force Base, located just a few miles southwest of Tampa, Florida. The Air Force base was under a mandatory evacuation Tuesday before the Category 4 storm made landfall on Florida’s west coast on Wednesday.
Fairchild is holding the two refueling tankers in an effort to maintain the 6th Air Refueling Wing’s mission readiness, Fairchild spokesman Lt. Ariana Wilkinson said. It’s not clear how long the aircraft and crew will remain at Fairchild.
Although Washington may seem like a long distance from Florida, it is relatively close for Air Mobility Command operations, which span the globe, Wilkinson said.
“They’re looking at the same mission but just two different bases,” she said.
With a wingspan of 130 feet and a length of 136 feet, the stratotankers require a lot of space, Wilkinson said.
The 92nd Air Refueling Wing, which is headquartered at Fairchild, operates 68 such aircraft.
The Stratotankers provide core aerial refueling capability and cargo for the U.S. military. The aircraft is also capable of medical evacuations. Depending on fuel storage configuration, the KC-135 can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo.
There are 396 stratotankers in use by the military.
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