Rare TC-135W Makes First Attendance At European Air Show In Malta

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The Malta International Air Show 2023 featured the rare appearance of a TC-135W aircraft from the U.S. Air Force. The aircraft, part of the 55th Wing and equipped with a glass cockpit modification, arrived in Malta from RAF Waddington in the UK. This marked the first time a TC-135W had attended an airshow in Europe. After the airshow, the aircraft flew back to RAF Waddington to conduct flight deck training with the Royal Air Force’s 51 Squadron. The TC-135W is primarily a training aircraft for the Rivet Joint mission and can also provide training for RC-135U Combat Sent crews.

I don’t own the rights to this content & no infringement intended, CREDIT: The Original Source: theaviationist.com

The TC-135W, a training-configured aircraft, made a special appearance at the Malta International Air Show 2023 last month. This annual airshow, organized by the Malta Aviation Society, always attracts unique and fascinating aircraft. Unfortunately, this year’s show was limited to one day due to bad weather.

The TC-135W is a rare aircraft, and its presence at the airshow was a highlight. This particular aircraft, with registration number 62-4127/MSN 18467, belongs to the U.S. Air Force’s 55th Wing and is one of only two TC-135Ws in service. It was built in 1962 as an RC-135A before being converted into an RC-135 and then a TC-135W.

The TC-135W, also known as MAVRK 55, flew from Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska to Malta via RAF Waddington in the UK. This marked the first time a TC-135W attended an airshow in Europe. After the airshow, the aircraft flew back to RAF Waddington before returning to its home base.

During its time in the UK, the TC-135W conducted routine flight deck training with the Royal Air Force’s 51 Squadron. The crew shared their knowledge and expertise in engine-running crew changes and hot pit refueling, helping 51 Squadron develop their approach to Agile Combat Employment (ACE) options. ACE requires a higher degree of interoperability in command and control, engineering and logistics, base defense, and intelligence-sharing.

The TC-135W jets primarily serve as training aircraft for the Rivet Joint mission but can also provide some training capability for RC-135U Combat Sent crews. These aircraft have fewer antennas than fully equipped Rivet Joint aircraft but maintain a similar appearance.

Overall, the TC-135W’s visit to the Malta International Air Show 2023 was a unique opportunity for aviation enthusiasts and showcased the strong collaboration between the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Air Force. It also highlighted the ongoing developments in training and interoperability among different air forces.

COMMENTARY:
The TC-135W’s appearance at the Malta International Air Show 2023 was indeed a special event. This training-configured aircraft, with its unique history and capabilities, attracted a lot of attention from aviation enthusiasts. The fact that it was the first time a TC-135W attended an airshow in Europe made it even more exciting.

It’s remarkable to see how aircraft like the TC-135W play a role in training and cooperation between different air forces. The opportunity for the Royal Air Force’s 51 Squadron to learn from the U.S. Air Force crew’s expertise in engine-running crew changes and hot pit refueling is a testament to the importance of collaboration in developing new approaches to combat tactics.

Fun Fact: The TC-135W is based on the Boeing C-135 Stratolifter, a military transport aircraft developed from the Boeing 367-80 prototype. The C-135 Stratolifter has been in service with the U.S. Air Force since the 1950s and has undergone various modifications and adaptations for different missions.

Overall, the TC-135W’s visit to the Malta International Air Show 2023 showcased the diversity and innovation within the aviation industry. It provided an opportunity for enthusiasts to witness rare aircraft and highlighted the ongoing efforts to enhance training and interoperability among different air forces.

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