The primary KC-46A Pegasus arrived at Altus Air Pressure Base in Oklahoma Friday, launching a brand new part within the 97th Air Mobility Wing’s journey to turn into the Air Pressure’s formal coaching unit for its latest tanker.
Altus officers mentioned Friday that the 97th has constructed a brand new coaching middle, fuselage coach and hanger extensions because it was chosen almost 5 years in the past. And to show tons of of pilots, increase operators and maintainers every year what they should know to function the Pegasus, Altus is counting on a mix of simulators and instruction within the precise plane.
Altus can be including extra instructors to show different airmen find out how to fly the KC-46, function its refueling increase and keep the plane.
The KC-46 is ready to each obtain gas whereas airborne and refuel different plane on the identical journey utilizing its increase, drogue and wing aerial refueling pods. It will possibly carry greater than 212,000 kilos of gas and carry a mix of passengers, aeromedical evacuation and cargo.
Altus’ second Pegasus, which was additionally initially supposed to be delivered on Friday however delayed as a consequence of climate, arrived on Saturday. Extra KC-46s are anticipated to observe quickly.
The 56th Air Refueling Squadron at Altus, which stood up in August 2016, has almost tripled its manning in the previous couple of months because it ready for the Pegasus’ arrival, Maj. Jacob Piriano, the squadron’s operations flight commander, mentioned in a Feb. 6 interview. These new cadre members will now be educated on how they’ll train pilots and increase operators.
Piriano mentioned Altus needs to shake off outdated considering because it launches its KC-46 mission, so it introduced on a various slate of airmen, together with air crew members with expertise within the B-52, KC-10, KC-135, C-17, RC-135 and E-Three AWACS.
“The variety of that strong instruction expertise is what’s going to make our [flying training unit] so good, so fast,” 97th Wing Commander Col. Eric Carney mentioned, although he wouldn’t touch upon what number of instructors are there.
Altus has additionally stood up a upkeep flight — the primary all-civilian upkeep unit to simply accept a brand new plane — specializing within the KC-46, mentioned Donnie Obreiter, the upkeep flight chief for the KC-46. The wing plans to drag mechanics from sister flights there that work on the C-17 and KC-135, and put them to work on the Pegasus, he mentioned. Nevertheless it’s too quickly to say what sort of mechanics they’ll want, and what number of, he mentioned.
Obreiter mentioned this system has checked out legacy techniques to seek out methods to enhance their processes and make them extra environment friendly.
Whereas the standard of upkeep doesn’t differ whether or not it’s a civilian or a uniformed particular person, Carney mentioned that having civilian maintainers does present extra continuity on the base as a result of they don’t deploy or switch.
However whereas the simulators are actually of their infancy, Piranio mentioned, they’ll tackle growing significance as they mature. Airmen coaching on the KC-46 at first may have about the identical steadiness between simulator coaching and time within the precise plane as C-17 and KC-135 coaching. However because the simulators get higher and truer-to-life, he mentioned, the wing will shift dramatically in direction of extra time within the simulator and fewer within the plane.
This may cut back flight hours and wear-and-tear on the plane, and lengthen its life even longer, he mentioned. Piranio mentioned it’s laborious to estimate what the steadiness can be, however the preponderance can be within the simulator.
“We wish absolutely the most of each minute of coaching contained in the airplane,” Carney mentioned. “We’re attempting to provide the scholars as a lot contact time to apply and be prepared themselves, so first they get essentially the most out of the sim as they will, after which they get essentially the most out of each time they take the airplane airborne. We’re attempting to wring out as a lot … out of each coaching medium, to get the scholar … as a lot as they probably can out of each sortie.”
The 56th is utilizing a mix of full-fledged simulators in addition to simplified pc sims referred to as part-task trainers, Altus mentioned in a launch final week. These part-task trainers, which embody a number of digital screens that search to recreate the cockpit of a KC-46, permit airmen to run by means of checklists and hone their expertise with out utilizing the big simulators, which may get booked up and lead to delays.
Half-task trainers additionally lower your expenses, Altus mentioned, as a result of they don’t want conventional upkeep or restore the best way simulators do.