STRATO-Tech, an event considered the aircraft equivalent to REPTX, will provide opportunities for
scenario-based technology demonstrations both on and near a non-flying KC-135 testbed.

Application Deadline
March 8, 2024
Government Registration Deadline
April 15, 2024
Setup Period
April 15 – April 19
Exercise Period
April 22 – April 26


In partnership with the US Air Force and Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), NCMS will co-host a demonstration exercise on the KC-135 Stratotanker April 15-26 in Wichita, KS. Known as STRATO-Tech, it will be considered the aircraft equivalent to REPTX, a series of events NCMS and the Navy have organized for onboard ship maintenance technology demonstrations. STRATO-Tech will provide opportunities for scenario-based technology demonstrations both on and near the KC-135 aircraft.

STRATO-Tech represents just one initiative of the newly formed Sustainment Technologies, Research and Automation for Transformative Operations Testbed (STRATO-T), a partnership formed by NCMS, NIAR, the US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) and the US Air Force (USAF) Air Mobility Command (AMC). This non-flying testbed operates out of Air Capital Flight Line in a stretch of property near McConnell Air Force Base.

NCMS will be assisting the Air Force with identifying the desired sustainment capabilities and vetting industry and academic participants for STRATO-Tech. Air Force sustainment leaders will give participants various real-world scenarios that address focus areas for improvements to support the Air Force’s sustainment capabilities for the KC-135 aircraft. This will be a unique opportunity to test and demonstrate novel and available industry-academia products in conjunction with other technologies to demonstrate and evaluate the viability and efficacy of their unique or combined capabilities.

Key Air Force decision-makers and subject matter experts will be in attendance and eager to evaluate these technologies and provide firsthand experience of their needs and challenges.

Benefits for Participants

Gain the unique opportunity to utilize the KC-135 platform to demonstrate and validate innovative sustainment capabilities.

Increase insight into warfighter needs.

Collaborate with US Air Force (USAF) Air Mobility Command (AMC), the US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), and the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR).

Interact with fleet and interagency partners.

Receive access to program offices, industry, and academic partners.

Get the chance to “test drive” potential solutions that respond to specific fleet problems, allowing unfiltered exposure and visibility with end-users and warfighters.

Obtain hands-on or over-the-shoulder exposure to developing technical solutions and a voice in the value and suitability of new technologies in a battle damage scenario.

Inform technical development.

Evaluate the current state and potential effectiveness of technology-based solutions—while simultaneously being offered the chance to field, adjust, learn, and repeat.

Hotel Information

Hyatt Place at Wichita State University
4703 E. 19th Street North, Wichita, Kansas 67208
(316) 364-4700

Hilton Garden Inn Wichita Downtown
401 E Douglas Ave Wichita. Kansas 67202
(316) 669-6175

Courtyard Wichita at Old Town
820 East 2nd Street North, Wichita Kansas 67202
(316) 264-5300

Please Note: There are no room blocks being held for this event.

STRATO-Tech is being conducted in an effort to support the US Air Force’s primary mission of global reach.

NCMS has partnered with Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), the US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), and the US Air Force Air Mobility Command (AMC) to establish a KC-135 Stratotanker innovation testbed in Wichita.

In July 2023, a non-flying KC-135 testbed was transferred to NIAR to establish the Sustainment Technologies, Research and Automation for Transformative Operations Testbed (STRATO-T).

STRATO-T is now located at Air Capital Flight Line LLC in a stretch of property near McConnell Air Force Base.

STRATO-T is now available for government, industry, and academia to study, develop, and test innovations for reducing legacy aircraft operations costs. STRATO-T will facilitate ground (non-flying) evaluations and studies of innovative sustainment, energy efficiency, and aircraft automation concepts. Leveraging NIAR’s digital engineering experience throughout these and other studies, STRATO-T will also generate vital KC-135 digital models to improve the long-term supportability of this critical air refueling asset.

Acting as USTRANSCOM’s and AMC’s intermediary, NCMS will lead the effort to identify solution providers that have the potential to significantly improve the sustainment posture of the KC-135 and other aviation assets across the USAF. The development of autonomy technology is a priority for the STRATO-T program.

Are You Able to Support the Air Force Mission?

Your solution should address one of the following focus areas.

  • Rapid ground turn with minimum equipment: How fast can a KC-135 be landed at a remote airfield, refueled with as little equipment as possible, and put back in the air? The Pacific fight requires the maximum time in the air for our tankers, so we’re looking for newer ways to do ground turns faster with fewer people.
  1. Upon request, companies will be given access to the current procedures for ground turns along with some scenario details, and would be encouraged to demonstrate whatever minimum equipment provides maximum value to turn that aircraft quickly.
  2. As an example, NIAR is designing and fabricating a tow bar to use with this KC-135 at their facility in Wichita and going the extra step to potentially design a collapsible one that would be of higher interest to the USAF.
  • Modernized Aircraft Battle Damage Repair: ABDR is a long-standing problem going back to the Battle of Britain. Strato-Tech will assess companies capabilities to address the following ABDR scenarios:
  1. The first step in conducting ABDR is assessing the condition of the aircraft on the ramp. STRATO-Tech seeks capabilities that can rapidly and accurately assess battle damage to skins, structures, wiring, electronics, pressure vessels, fiber optics, fuel tanks, communications and avionics.
  2. Most warheads are blast-fragmentation, and near-misses will pepper the plane with many small holes. STRATO-Tech is looking for demonstrations of capabilities to address in-situ repair of these holes beyond current “riveted scab patches”.
  3. STRATO-Tech is seeking capabilities that can address expeditionary repair of aircraft structural components such as spars and ribs, etc.
  4. Modern aircraft are comprised largely of composite materials. STRATO-Tech seeks capabilities that can rapidly and accurately assess the condition of these composite materials.
  5. STRATO-Tech seeks composite material repair solutions that can be readily deployed to remote locations without the traditional “baggage” of freezers, autoclaves, etc.
  6. Metal parts needed to effect ABDR repairs may not be available. STRATO-Tech seeks capabilities that can locally manufacture metal parts at the point of need in remote areas and potentially in a comms denied environment.
  7. Aircraft technicians may not have access to experts in the engineering centers and ALC’s. STRATO-Tech seeks solutions that can greatly aid these technicians to generate sound flight-worthy engineering repair solutions in denied comms environments.
  8. Current processes to detect aircraft pressure leaks are slow and inaccurate. STRATO-Tech seeks capabilities that can rapidly and accurately detect pressure leaks in canopies, fuselage, etc.
  9. Wiring and fiber optics will be damaged and require rapid troubleshooting and repair capabilities.
  10. Communications and Avionics “black boxes” are crucial to aircraft operations. STRATO-Tech seeks innovative capabilities to test the functionality of these components, isolate faults, and repair the subcomponents (wiring, connectors, circuit boards/cards).
  11. Fuel tanks, cells and bladders will be damaged and STRATO-Tech seeks novel fuel leak detection and repair capabilities.
  12. Aircraft windscreens, canopies, and windows will be damaged. STRATO-Tech seeks solutions to providing flight worthy repairs of these components.
  13. Ground support equipment (GSE) and stands will be necessary to effect expeditionary maintenance and repair in remote locations. STRATO-Tech seeks capabilities that can significantly reduce the GSE footprint and maximize reconfigurability for multiple aircraft types.

Application Submission Steps

  1. Download and complete the application template found here: STRATO-Tech Proposal Template
  2. If you complete your proposal in another software program, please save and submit the file as a PDF.
  3. If you would like to submit a 2-minute video to further demonstrate your technology, please provide the URL to the registration form.
  4. The video should be uploaded to YouTube or other video hosting services.
  5. Create Quad Chart to illustrate:
    • Problem/Scenario Selected
    • Technology Solution
    • Benefits
    • Graphics
  6. Download Quad Chart Template
  7. Complete the adjacent submission form including all fields, PDF application, and URL to the video.

NOTE: All submitted and demonstration materials will be considered Distro A (approved for public release: distribution is unlimited).

Following submission, the vetting team will review all applications and videos.  You will be contacted if your submission is incomplete or further responses are needed.  Notification of acceptance will be sent on Friday, March 15, 2024.

Please note: if your organization is selected to participate, all personnel who travel to the event site must be US citizens, given the event’s on-base location.

Proposals will be vetted by the following criteria in consideration: 

  • Addresses problem
  • Offers an original contribution to the state of the art
  • Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
  • Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL)
  • Affordability
  • Capability on or near the aircraft
  • Benefit to maintenance
  • Feasibility and practicality

Any questions about this event or your application should be sent to

Application Submission Form

The submission period is now closed.

To register as a government or industry observer, click on the orange button above.

Government Attendees

DOD, government contractors, and other government personnel are invited to register for attendance as observers to the demonstration exercises.

Cancellation Policy

We reserve the right to cancel any registration and deny access to this event as deemed warranted by NCMS.

Government Attendee Registration Form – Deadline April 15, 2024

The registration period for the event has ended.

Please Note: Industry registration is reserved for those organizations that have been selected to exhibit after completing the application submission process.

Industry Attendee Registration Form – Deadline April 15, 2024

The registration period for this event has ended.