This confirmation follows the arrival of the first aircraft, which was ferried from Changi International Airport, Singapore, to March Air Reserve Base (ARB) in Riverside County, California, on September 29. The sale comes as the US Air Force (USAF) explores plans to hire contractor-operated aerial refuelling aircraft to provide additional tanker support as development problems and delays continue with Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus.
According to a press release from Meta Aerospace, the remaining three examples will be delivered by the end of November 2020. The release added: “With its extensive defence-as-a-service offerings and air mobility experience, this addition of four KC-135R aircraft enables Meta to deliver turnkey aerial refuelling services to meet our US government customer’s requirement.”
The first example had been stripped of its RSAF markings and featured a new US civil registration code – N573MA – instead of its former military serial number. Notably, the aircraft has been nicknamed “Timothy Dalton”, which is likely in reference to the Welsh actor who portrayed James Bond in “The Living Daylights” and “License to Kill.”
Singapore operated four examples of the KC-135R Stratotanker under 112 Squadron at Changi air base from December 2000. All four aircraft were former USAF-operated KC-135As that had been upgraded to KC-135R-standard prior to being handed over to the RSAF at the turn of the millennium. The fleet was officially retired and replaced by six Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker/Transport (MRTT) aircraft in June 2019.