KC‐46 arrives for combat training

  • Published
  • By Lauren Gleason
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron here, dignitaries and Air Force leaders accepted the new KC‐46A Pegasus during a historic arrival celebration Feb. 8.

Reservists in the 730th AMTS are charged with training aircrew in the C‐17 Globemaster III, KC‐135 Stratotanker and the newest aerial refueling aircraft, the KC‐46A Pegasus. The Reservists work next to active duty Airmen of the 97th Air Mobility Wing, training aircrew members for Air Education and Training Command.

Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, spoke at the unveiling ceremony about the future of the force.

“As the 21st Chief of Staff, I believe I have one obligation that I consider a sacred duty,” Goldfein said. “We must ensure that every Airman we send into harm’s way is properly organized, trained, equipped and well-led. Today is about fulfilling a part of this obligation. Today we equip our Airmen at Altus, and put in their hands the finest tanker on the planet.”

AETC Commander, Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, highlighted the importance and impact of training future aviators.

“We have taught these Airmen to be competitors,” Kwast said. “If they do what I know they are capable of doing, you might find that this machine, coupled with the team of Airmen who know how to use it, becomes one of the most powerful tools of air superiority in the 21st century.”

Total force Airmen at Altus AFB will put the KC-46 through its paces in the Combat Mobility and Expeditionary Training Center of Excellence, where more than 2,000 airlift and aerial refueling aircrew members train annually.

One Citizen Airman, Tech. Sgt. Michael Fagan, a 730th AMTS instructor boom operator and veteran of 15 years, watched intently as the KC-46 rolled up to the hangar. Fagan qualified more than 50 students in the KC-135R Stratotanker before he was selected to be one of the initial cadre members for the KC-46 flight training unit.

“It’s a very humbling position to be in, and I’m very proud to have made it this far,” Fagan said. “I love being a boom operator. It’s great to instruct a student, and see that moment on the flight when it clicks for them. That’s the reason I do it.”

Senior leadership at Air Force Reserve Command highlighted the importance of the new tanker in increasing global combat mobility.

“The Air Force Reserve plays an integral role in global and national security and it starts at the school house with our partnership with AETC,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Lewis, Deputy Commander of AFRC.

The 730th AMTS, which falls under AFRC’s 507th Air Refueling Wing at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, is an associate unit that merges with active duty Airmen in the 97th AMW to accomplish aircrew training.

Col. Miles Heaslip, 507th Air Refueling Wing commander, highlighted the important role of the instructor team in the flight training unit.

“Reservists bring so much experience to the fight,” said Heaslip. “For our guys and gals that are out here flying, this is what they love to do. This is what they want to do.”

The KC‐46A provides improved capabilities over older Air Force air refueling aircraft to include boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, a refueling capability of more than 212,000 pounds of fuel and palletized cargo up to 65,000 pounds, depending on fuel storage configuration.

In addition to KC‐46 training at Altus AFB, Tinker AFB near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma will serve as the KC‐46A Pegasus maintenance depot. The Oklahoma Air Logistic Complex will provide maintenance, repair and overhaul operations for the KC‐46A. The new maintenance operation brings with it a 158‐acre facility with multiple hangars and 1,300 estimated jobs to Oklahoma.