Air Force KC-135 appeared with call sign ‘Titties’ on FlightRadar24


The Air Force is looking into how a KC-135 aerial tanker flying over the Middle East on Friday was identified by a flight tracking service as having the call sign “Titties.”

Earlier on Friday, FlightRadar24 showed “Titties” flying missions over the Mediterranean Sea. Initial indications are that the aircraft belongs to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 171st Air Refueling Wing, which is currently deployed to the U.S. Central Command’s theater of operations, though no Pennsylvania Air National Guardsmen were crew members on that particular KC-135, said Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Monk a spokesman with the 171st Air Refueling Wing.

However, Lt. Col. Michael Hertzog, a spokesman for U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told Task & Purpose that the “Titties” is not the plane’s real call sign.

“AFCENT is aware that a tanker operating in the CENTCOM AOR [Central Command Area of Operations] whose actual call-sign is ‘Inmate 72’ is currently being tracked on Flight Radar 24 as call-sign ‘Titties,’” Hertzog said in an email. “The cause is unknown at present but AFCENT and 379 AEW [379th Air Expeditionary Wing] are investigating.”

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After this story was first published, Flightradar24 spokesman Ian Petchenik told Task & Purpose that the call sign “Titties” was broadcast from the aircraft.

“We displayed it on the service as it came out of the aircraft,” Petchenik said on Friday. “The aircraft at the time was seen by 94 separate receivers in the area. This isn’t a question other than: That was plugged into the flight computer and that is what came out as the call sign.”

“The long and the short of it is that not only did they broadcast the ‘Titties’ call sign; they started with the ‘Boobie’ call sign and then quickly switched to the ‘Titties’ call sign, judging by the raw data that we pulled,” Petchenik added.

As of Friday afternoon, FlightRadar24 was no longer displaying any information about the KC-135.

News of a U.S. military plane appearing to have an unconventional call sign comes little more than a month after Air Force officials denied that another KC-135 aerial tanker had flown in a penis-shaped pattern near a Russian base in Syria.

“The KC-135 Stratotanker (RAKE71) operating in the Eastern Mediterranean adjusted between multiple different flight tracks during the course of the mission,” Capt. Ryan Goss, a spokesman for U.S. Air Forces in Europe, said at the time. “While these adjustments and movements appear to create a vulgar outline, there was no intent by the pilots or the unit to do so. As we continue to look into this, USAFE-AFAFRICA, AMC [Air Mobility Command] and the USAF will continue to maintain the highest standards of professionalism and airmanship.”

Update: 12/16/2022; This article was updated after publication with a statement from FlightRadar24.

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