Altus to welcome Air Force’s new KC 46 tanker


The newest addition to the nation’s Air Force fleet will be welcomed Friday at Altus Air Force base.

Crews will learn to fly the KC-46A Pegasus at the air base. A welcoming ceremony will be held at 4:30 p.m. and among the dignitaries to be on hand is Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe.

 Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron will join the 97th Air Mobility Wing in accepting the new KC-46A Pegasus during the delivery ceremony.

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 AMW, training aircrew members for Air Education and Training Command.

“The arrival of the KC-46 plays an essential part in recapitalizing our tanker fleet and increasing our combat mobility around the globe,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Lewis, Deputy Commander of Air Force Reserve Command. “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.”

The school house, is formally known as the Combat Mobility and Expeditionary Training Center of Excellence, where more than 2,000 airlift and aerial refueling aircrew members train annually. The 730th AMTS, which falls under Air Force Reserve Command’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.

“We utilize our experienced Reserve aircrew capacity to enhance the front line training of our future mobility aviators,” said Lt. Col. John Snapp, 730th AMTS director of operations. Our training here at Altus is a total force success story. Our Reserve instructor pilots, instructor boom operators, and instructor load masters integrate seamlessly with active duty, and contractor instructors every day.”

Total force teamwork is important in shaping future aviators and it will be the same with the KC-46. The unit already has KC-46 instructor positions and they are planning an increase of full time and Traditional Reserve positions after 2021 in the KC-46 formal training unit, according to Snapp.

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. The KC-46 provides worldwide navigation, communication and airlift capability on the main deck and can support a mixed load of passengers, aeromedical evacuation crews and cargo. 

“We are eager to welcome the new aircraft into our already dynamic mission,” said Col. Eric Carney, 97th AMW commander. “Through the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the ‘Mighty 97th’ and the partnership with the Air Force Reserve, we are ready to train the KC-46 aircrew, maintenance and support personnel to provide a new era of air refueling capabilities for the joint force.”

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.

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