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Travis AFB leadership flies two new KC-46s to their new home

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Philip Bryant
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

In a stride toward modernizing the U.S. Air Force's air refueling capabilities, leadership from the 60th Air Mobility Wing, along with nearly 30 aircraft maintainers, boom operators and pilots, went to Boeing's military delivery center in Seattle, Wash., to receive the fifth and sixth KC-46A Pegasus aircraft destined for Travis AFB, Dec. 8, 2023.

The KC-46 represents the next generation in aerial refueling, featuring new technology and improved performance metrics. Designed by Boeing to replace other aging refueling aircraft, the KC-46 introduces significant advancements, including a modernized refueling boom and a remote vision system for the boom operator.

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Derek Salmi, 60th AMW commander, and the aircrew from Travis AFB took a tour of the Boeing facility, where they saw each step in the production assembly line for the KC-46A.

The leadership team expressed enthusiasm about the arrival of these aircraft, emphasizing their commitment to keeping Travis AFB at the forefront of air mobility and refueling operations.

“Now, more than ever, we need a connected force,” said Salmi. “The Pegasus brings this capability to bear, not only for AMC, but for the entire Joint and Coalition force.”

While the newest tanker is expected to play a critical role in supporting a wide array of military operations around the world, leadership acknowledges all of the support and coordination requirements with a new airframe specifically, the Airmen operating and maintaining them.

“Airmen are always the magic behind any weapon system,” said Col. Justin Ballinger, 60th Operations Group commander, who also piloted one of the KC-46s. “As we get ready to become fully operational capable in the KC-46A, our maintainers are at the forward edge of mission generation.”

Ballinger also stressed that as the team plans for future flying operations, he believes one of the most important pieces of the puzzle is training across all support entities to ensure future success.

“Travis has been charged by Air Mobility Command to have the most exquisitely trained instructors in command,” said Ballinger. “No one else had the full gamut of mission qualifications levied upon them, but from day one our Airmen are enabling the most complex mission sets in the KC-46A and they do it with style and positivity that exudes the Travis culture.”

As the base welcomes the latest additions to its fleet, the focus of leadership remains on pushing the boundaries of airpower, fostering innovation, and ensuring the nation's military readiness in an ever-changing global landscape.

“I am honored to be a part of the team delivering one of the newest members of our refueling fleet,” said Salmi. “Refueling capabilities are not only critical to the mission at Travis but to the entire mobility force. I am extremely proud of our team at Travis and the work and coordination that has occurred to get us to this point.”

Travis anticipates receiving its entire fleet of KC-46’s by 2025.