The U.S. Air Force’s 97th Air Mobility Wing welcomed its newest weapon system, the KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, to the official training unit at Altus Air Force Base, Feb. 8.
Distinguished visitors and members of the Altus AFB community gathered to witness the landing and official recognition ceremony of the 97th AMW receiving the first addition to the Air Force’s strategic training arsenal at Altus AFB.
Since being selected as the Air Force’s KC-46 formal training unit in April 2014, the 97th AMW has been preparing to ensure their readiness to receive the aircraft, including construction of the new formal training center, fuselage trainer and hangar extensions, along with standing up the first KC-46 squadron.
“The 97th Air Mobility Wing is prepared for the arrival of the KC-46 and is 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, 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.”
As the center of excellence for training aircrews for not only air refueling but airlift as well, the 97th AMW is invaluable to the country in projecting power and leading the charge with innovation in training and support for three separate airframes, the C-17 Globemaster III, the KC-135 Stratotanker and now the KC-46.
In an era of great power competition, the KC-46 is expected to be more survivable, with enhanced communication, self-protection and situational awareness capabilities. Not only does the KC-46 refuel most fixed-wing, receiver-capable aircraft midair, the airframe can accommodate a mixed load of passengers, aeromedical evacuation, and cargo capabilities.