Making Them Last

According to an April 21 release from ARINC, the company is now under contract to Rockwell Collins to perform part of the Block 45 work planned to help keep the geriatric KC-135 tanker fleet flying well while USAF tries to field the KC-X replacement. ARINC expects to begin initial installations in early 2011 on two engineering and manufacturing development airframes, working at its modification facility near Tinker AFB, Okla. The Block 45 avionics upgrade includes a new auto-pilot/flight director, radar altimeters, removal of 21 analog instruments, and a modern large-format color digital engine instrument cockpit display. Jeffery Willis, engineering director for ARINC’s defense aircraft programs, said the company already has “a strong work portfolio with Rockwell Collins” that includes other USAF aircraft upgrades. (For more on sustaining the KC-135 tanker fleet read Air Force Magazine’s April 2010 article Tankers in Unknown Territory)