OC-135B Retirement

An aircraft on the flight line.

An OC-135B Open Skies assigned to the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, is guided to its designated parking spot on the flight line at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, June 9, 2021. The 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force retired its final OC-135B Open Skies aircraft to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alex Miller)

A photo of an aircraft's tail.

An OC-135B Open Skies assigned to the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, taxis on the flight line at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, June 9, 2021. The aircraft is retiring and being transported to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alex Miller)

A photo of an aircraft flying.

An OC-135B Open Skies assigned to the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, is in flight to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, June 9, 2021. The 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force retired its final OC-135B Open Skies aircraft to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Scott Ingalsbe)

An aircraft landing on the flight line.

An OC-135B Open Skies assigned to the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, lands on the flight line at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, June 9, 2021. The aircraft is retiring and being transported to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Vaughn E. Weber)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --

The final retired OC-135B Open Skies aircraft from the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base arrived at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, June 9, 2021.

The OC-135B was decommissioned after the U.S. withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty Nov. 22, 2020.   

“The OC-135B had a great career of service for our country and we, at the AMARG, are honored to be entrusted with its legacy as it joins America’s airpower reservoir,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jennifer Barnard, 309th AMARG commander.

The preservation process for the OC-135B is rigorous, taking 490 man-hours to one day re-service and put these aircraft back into operation as needed. 

The process begins with the storage induction also known as “flush farm.” The flush farm team drains the remaining fuel, refuels the aircraft with a lightweight oil and runs the engines to preserve the fuel system plumbing before draining at the low points so the aircraft is stored empty and not dry. This is followed by a thorough cleaning at the “wash rack.”

Once completed, the aircraft will undergo the sealing process. The AMARG team will apply tape over the crevices, waxy coating over the glass and barrier paper over the engine’s inlets and outlets.

Finally, it will be sprayed with one coat each of a blue strippable preservation compound and then, a white ceramic blend top coat to serve as a temperature control. The white cover allows the inside temperature to remain within 10 to 15 degrees cooler.

“Though it is being sent into the AMARG, we will ensure that its capabilities are not lost for our service,” Barnard said. “We are committed to ensuring that these aircraft remain ready to be reintegrated at any time by executing our mission of storage, maintenance and regeneration.”

Like the majority of the aircraft at the AMARG, the OC-135B will be stored as a type 2000, meaning the parts could be reclaimed.

“Our plan for the OC-135B is to utilize all of the parts of the aircraft that can be regenerated whether that is this week or five years from now,” said Sunday McCord, Air Force Material Command logistics management specialist. “The OC-135B has parts that can be regenerated and transferred to over 400 aircraft in the fleet so that they can maintain mission ready status.”

The OC-135B joins over 3,000 other preserved aircraft at the AMARG from across the Department of Defense.