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Airmen, dignitaries celebrate KC‐46 arrival

The KC-46A Pegasus looms over the flightline at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, Feb. 8, 2019, shortly after its historic delivery. Reservists in the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron are charged with training aircrew on the newest aerial refueling aircraft alongside their active duty counterparts in the 97th Air Mobility Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

The KC-46A Pegasus sits on the flightline at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., Feb. 8, 2019. The 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron is charged with training aircrew on the newest aerial refueling aircraft alongside their active-duty counterparts assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathison)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- Reserve Airmen assigned to the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron, dignitaries and Air Force leaders accepted the new KC‐46A Pegasus during a historic arrival celebration Feb. 8 at Altus Air Force Base.

The 730th AMTS reservists work with active-duty Airmen assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing, in support of Air Education and Training Command, to train aircrews to operate C‐17 Globemaster III, KC‐135 Stratotanker and the newest aerial refueling aircraft, the KC‐46A Pegasus.

The KC‐46A provides improved capabilities over older 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.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein spoke at the unveiling ceremony about the future of the force.

“As the 21st chief of staff, I believe I have one obligation that I consider a sacred duty,” Goldfein said. “We must ensure that every Airman we send into harm’s way is properly organized, trained, equipped and well-led. Today is about fulfilling a part of this obligation. Today we equip our Airmen at Altus, and put in their hands the finest tanker on the planet.”

Altus AFB will put the KC-46 through the Combat Mobility and Expeditionary Training Center of Excellence, where more than 2,000 airlift and aerial refueling aircrew members train annually. Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, AETC commander, highlighted the importance and impact of training future aviators.

“We have taught these Airmen to be competitors,” Kwast said. “If they do what I know they are capable of doing, you might find that this machine, coupled with the team of Airmen who know how to use it, becomes one of the most powerful tools of air superiority in the 21st century.”

Tech. Sgt. Michael Fagan, a 730th AMTS instructor boom operator, watched intently as the KC-46 rolled up to the hangar. Fagan qualified more than 50 students in the KC-135R Stratotanker before he was selected to be one of the initial cadre members for the KC-46 flight training unit.

“It’s a very humbling position to be in, and I’m very proud to have made it this far,” Fagan said. “I love being a boom operator. It’s great to instruct a student, and see that moment on the flight when it clicks for them. That’s the reason I do it.”

In addition to KC‐46 training at Altus AFB, Tinker AFB 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.