New Tanker Joins Formation

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Michael Hong
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

The Unit Training Assembly on Saturday,  December 4, 2021, was the first day the 514th Air Mobility Wing crewed a roster of aircraft to include the KC-10 Extender, the C-17 Globemaster III and the KC-46 Pegasus flying out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

The first KC-46 arrived at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on November 9, 2021.

The KC-46 will provide the Air Force greater readiness and survivability in combat. In addition to its air refueling mission, the aircraft has multi-role capabilities, including configurations for passengers, cargo, and evacuation of wounded personnel.

“Having the KC-46 here is great and it’s really awesome to see the KC-10, C-17 and KC-46 all flying together on UTA,” said Maj. Scott Mixdorf, KC-46 pilot with the 78th Air Refueling Squadron. “Having all three makes a great team.”

The KC-46 will also offer greater operational flexibility, with every aircraft able to use both the refueling boom and drogue systems on the same mission, perform simultaneous air refueling of multiple aircraft with wing pods, and receive fuel from other tanker aircraft to increase force projection capabilities.

“It was actually easier than refueling with the KC-10 or KC-135,” said Maj. Alexander Devito, C-17 pilot with the 732nd Airlift Squadron. “It was nice and stable and the visual references, like the lights, are very easy to see.”
Tankers are the lifeblood of our joint force’s ability to respond to crises and contingencies. The KC-46 represents a commitment to U.S. air refueling capability and global reach that will ensure support to joint warfighters and humanitarian relief.
“It’s good training to get this type of exposure, being in a formation with two different types of aircraft that travel at different speeds,” said Devito.
To maintain our air refueling edge, the Air Force must continue investment in the KC-46 while moving beyond legacy KC-10 and KC-135 aircraft. Offsets from legacy tanker divestment in both funding and manpower are critical to the success of the KC-46 and air refueling as a whole.