MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kansas -- The McConnell runway emptied out of KC-46s in a matter of seconds Jan. 13, during the first-ever KC-46 minimal interval takeoff.
A minimum interval takeoff – better known as a MITO – is a long-standing Air Force technique for scrambling all available tankers and bombers in the shortest and safest time possible.
A MITO also gets the aircraft out of range quickly, should severe weather or an attack be inbound to one’s airfield.
“In the event of an attack, no matter which airfield you are at, those critical seconds saved between takeoffs when executing MITO procedures can be the difference between mission success or failure,” said Col. Nate Vogel, 22d Air Refueling Wing Commander.
This initial KC-46 MITO was performed with three KC-46s and crews from the 344th Air Refueling Squadron and 22nd Operations Group.
MITOs are well-rehearsed and practiced in the KC-135 community; with that accumulated knowledge and lessons learned distilled into a set of proven Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) for current and future KC-135 crews to draw upon.
“While we are building off the KC-135’s MITO experience, the KC-46 is a unique airframe and the KC-135 Tactics, Techniques and Procedures do not directly transfer. This was the first of several MITOs events planned to analyze takeoff intervals at varying gross weights and performance levels to build KC-46 specific MITO TTPs, develop training materials and grow experience for our initial cadre of MITO instructors,” said Lt. Col. Nick LaPlant, 22nd Operations Group Deputy Commander.
The work at McConnell will serve to build and refine an initial set of TTPs for the KC-46 enterprise.
“MITO is a crucial and portable capability for a combat aircraft like the KC-46,” said Vogel. “Our 22 ARW crews put together a risk-mitigation plan, and then executed the first ever MITO takeoffs in the KC-46. That is bold aviation… I couldn’t be prouder of the team.”