On Thursday, August 21, 2014, the first of three upgraded KC-135s was delivered to Air Base 125 at Istres by an American crew that ferried the aircraft from San Antonio.
The upgrade of the KC-135RGs operated by the Escadron de Ravitaillement en Vol (In-flight refueling squadron, ERV) primarily concerns avionics, through the RENO GATM (Global Air Traffic Management) standard. This new interface allows navigation standards identical to those of American KC-135s, and more efficient and secure integration into general air traffic.
While preserving the on-board intercom specific to the French aircraft, the KC-135RG is also fitted with a high-frequency wire antenna and is re-configured to carry standard cargo pallets.
Technical experts from the air force’s in-flight refueling and strategic transport program team, as well as from the future 31st In-Flight Refueling and Strategic Transport Wing, will support the defense procurement agency, DGA, in ensuring flight-testing and certification of the upgraded aircraft.
Beginning in the fourth quarter of this year, the air force will undertake a series of test and evaluation flights of the new aircraft to establish specific operating and maintenance procedures.