Travis Will get Its First New KC-46 as Tanker Deliveries Resume

Travis Air Pressure Base, Calif., grew to become the sixth major working base for the KC-46 on July 28, receiving its first Pegasus tanker—additionally the primary accepted by the Air Pressure from Boeing since March, when a gasoline tank drawback halted deliveries.

A ceremony commemorating the occasion on the base additionally marked the eightieth anniversary of the founding of Travis; the seventy fifth anniversary of the sixtieth Air Mobility Wing; and the one hundredth anniversary of aerial refueling. Travis is buying and selling its KC-10 Extender tanker/cargo plane for the Pegasus.

Boeing, in its second-quarter earnings name earlier this week, mentioned it had resumed deliveries of the KC-46, which had been on maintain since March as a result of a high quality course of drawback with Boeing subcontractor Triumph Aerostructures. The middle gasoline tank interiors had not been correctly cleaned and primed, inflicting concern that paint might flake off and contaminate the plane’s gasoline system. Boeing CEO David Calhoun mentioned the corporate has “accomplished the rework” vital to repair the issue. Affected plane had been deemed protected to fly throughout the corrective course of with shut monitoring of their gasoline filters.

Boeing must ship 15 KC-46s this 12 months beneath its contract with the Air Pressure, however the Travis plane is just the second in 2023. The corporate has not mentioned whether or not it expects to ship all of the required plane by the top of December.

Maj. Gen. Corey J. Martin, commander of 18th Air Pressure, mentioned on the welcoming ceremony that the KC-46 goes past the KC-10 in that, whereas it might probably do air refueling, cargo, and aeromedical evacuation missions, it has “the brains [for] much more.”

“It’s the connections, it’s the sensors, it’s the survivability,” Martin mentioned. The Pegasus has “the tactical situational consciousness methods. It has the radios that can hyperlink this mobility plane to bombers, fighters, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; to area, to particular operations. It has methods that can detect and keep away from radar-guided surface-to-air threats. It has methods that can detect and defeat infrared guided surface-to-air threats; all whereas maneuvering our Joint drive nearer to contested airspace than any KC plane has performed up to now.”

Moreover the first missions of air refueling, cargo motion, and aeromedical evacuation, the Air Pressure plans to suit its KC-46s with communications and connectivity gear to make them a sort of airborne web supplier within the battlespace, as a part of the service’s evolving Air Battle Administration System. These modifications had been included in latest contracts for the KC-46 Block 1 improve.

The plane delivered to Travis is the seventieth KC-46 to grow to be operational for the Air Pressure, in opposition to a complete order of 179 plane as a result of be delivered by 2028. The Air Pressure mentioned the Pegasus has flown greater than 16,000 sorties and delivered greater than 150 million kilos of gasoline, regardless of being not less than a 12 months away from the deliberate declaration of preliminary operational functionality.

All 59 KC-10s within the Air Pressure are set to retire by September 2024 or sooner. The final East-Coast KC-10s retired from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey in June. Travis was picked to get the KC-46 in a 2017 Air Pressure resolution; the bottom is slated to obtain 27 of the brand new tankers.

In preparation for the Pegasus’ arrival at Travis, the Air Pressure constructed a $137 million, 174,300-square-foot, three-bay hangar; the biggest amongst a number of new-build or renovation tasks on the facility price a collective $188 million. Building was paused in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic, and the primary KC-46 arrival was postponed from January 2023 because of this.

The KC-46 just lately participated within the latest Mobility Guardian 23 train, in addition to the Juniper Oak train with Israel. Air Pressure tankers have additionally been making flyovers of ceremonies and sporting occasions all summer season to commemorate the centennial of aerial refueling.

The primary aerial refueling occurred on June 27, 1923, over Rockwell Discipline, San Diego, Calif., when two Military Air Service pilots handed gasoline from their Boeing-built de Havilland DH-4B to a different, utilizing easy gravity move. Utilizing this system the identical group of pilots set a flying endurance document of 37 hours a number of weeks later. Air refueling within the coming years was largely used to help endurance data—notably, Maj. Carl Spaatz and the Query Mark set a document of 150 hours and 40 minutes in 1937—but it surely was not till Spaatz grew to become the primary Chief of Employees of the Air Pressure that aerial refueling was pursued with critical operational goal. Spaatz directed the conversion of some B-29s to tanker configuration in 1948, and the primary air refueling items stood up in 1949.