The Air Force could enlist industry to build 75 new center consoles per year for the KC-135 tanker.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio said that it wants company feedback on “your installation approach, capabilities, and annual throughput to achieve maximum production per month/year (targeted at 75 aircraft per year).”

AFLCMC’s KC-135 Center Console Refresh (CCR) program office under AFLCMC’s Mobility and Training Aircraft is to hold one-on-one discussions on Oct. 21 with Boeing [BA], Collins Aerospace [RTX], Northrop Grumman [NOC], BAE SystemsL3Harris [LHX] and Field Aerospace (Defense Daily, Oct. 13).

The Air Force KC-135 program office at Tinker AFB, Okla., and the KC-135 CCR program office under have solicited ideas from industry on the possible replacement of the fuel management and flight display systems for 276 of the service’s more than 400 Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, first fielded in 1958.

In addition to the new fuel management and flight display systems, AFLCMC has said that it wants to hear from industry on new “display capabilities to support [KC-135] aircraft into 2060 and beyond” and the number of annual KC-135 CCR kits companies could build.

In 2015, the Air Force awarded Rockwell Collins–now Collins Aerospace–a nearly $306 million contract to upgrade the KC-135 fleet to the Block 45 configuration with digital avionics and new radio altimeter, autopilot, and digital fight director systems–work to be conducted at Tinker. Before that, between 1997 and 2002, the Air Force had modernized the KC-135 under the Pacer CRAG (compass, radar and GPS) program.

For the KC-135 CCR program, AFLCMC has asked small businesses wanting to participate to demonstrate that they are able to partner with Collins Aerospace on systems integration. AFLCMC said small businesses should provide it with copies of letters of intent or agreements that such small businesses have with Collins Aerospace.

The AFLCMC has said that the KC-135’s integrated fuel management panel; fuel management advisory computer; control display units; tank interface unit; and multi-functional displays face obsolescence in the near future (Defense Daily, May 11).

In fiscal 2023, the Air Force is seeking congressional authorization to retire six KC-135s and 10 KC-10s. In addition, the service plans to field 24 Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tankers in fiscal 2023. The KC-46A has faced a number of technical problems, including with the tanker’s Remote Vision System (RVS).

An improved Boeing RVS 2.0 design is to feature 4K color cameras, operator stations with larger screens, a laser ranger for refueling aircraft distance measurement and boom assistance augmented reality. While the Air Force planned to field RVS 2.0 next year, the service pushed back the timetable to March 2024, and then to October 2025 (Defense Daily, Oct. 7).