Remains of the KC-135 that crashed Friday in Kyrgyzstan appear to be from an aircraft based at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. as part of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing.
An Associated Press photograph from the scene show a vertical stabilizer from the crashed aircraft. Along the top ridge the letters “onnell,” can be read in block letters. A separate photograph shows a tail number of, “AMC 38877.”
A similar photograph of the vertical stabilizer was published on the Kyrgyz news website, kloop.kg.
A May 16, 2012 photograph from an online photo-sharing site shows a KC-135 with the same tail number and nose markings indicating the aircraft belonged to the 22nd ARW.
If accurate, the tail markings indicate the plane was 388th of its kind and was ordered in 1977.
Neither Air Force officials from McConnell nor the Pentagon would confirm the KC-135 that went down was assigned to the 22nd or McConnell to USNI News.
“We can’t confirm the veracity of the photos,” Ann Stefanek with the Secretary of the Air Force for Public Affairs told USNI News on Friday.
Even if the aircraft was from the 22nd ARW, it does not mean the crew flying the plane was from the same unit.
Crews assigned to KC-135s regularly operate and maintain planes not from their home units.
“Crews and aircraft aren’t necessarily from the same place,” Stefanek said.
The KC-135 Stratotanker went down about 100 miles west of the U.S. Transit Center at Manas on Friday, according to several news reports.
Witnesses told the AP the plane exploded in the air before crashing. Kyrgyzstan state media reported crash debris was scattered over a half-mile radius near the village of Chaldovar.
The accident is under investigation. The status of the crew remains unknown.
The KC-135 has been in service since the late 1950s and is among the oldest U.S. Air Force airframes currently in service.