Reserve aircrew delivers Tinker's first KC-46A for initial maintenance

  • Published
  • By April McDonald
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group held a small ceremony Sept. 10, 2020, to celebrate a big milestone.

The first KC-46A Pegasus aircraft arrived at Tinker Air Force Base on Thursday to receive its initial Maintenance C Check. The aircraft was flown by an aircrew with the 10th Flight Test Squadron, an Air Force Reserve Command unit assigned to the 413th Flight Test Group.

“It is an extremely exciting and satisfying day for all of the members of the KC-46 flight within the 10th FLTS,” said Lt. Col. Jerreme Camper, 10th FLTS KC-46 flight commander. “We started planning for this day a little over four years ago and are so thankful for all of the people who helped us create a KC-46 flight from scratch within the 10th FLTS. Securing new positions and training obstacles were only a few of the many obstacles we had to overcome.”

Col. Greg Lowe, 76th AMXG commander, said the workforce is excited to get started on it.

“It’s an amazing day,” he said. “It’s a unique thing in the Air Force to have a new weapon system come online.”

Lowe said while it’s the start of a new chapter for Tinker, it is also just another day in the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex’s long history of performing world-class maintenance for nearly 80 years.

“This base, and this community, is a central hub for airpower for the United States,” he said. “In one sense, it’s just another day, but for the men and women who will work on the KC-46 here at Tinker it is absolutely a groundbreaking day.”

The KC-46 fleet is the first in Air Force history to use Federal Aviation Administration techniques. That means every two years the aircraft will come to Tinker for an overhaul to keep in line with those maintenance practices.

Gene Harris, 568th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron director, said over the next month the aircraft will be visually inspected and parts will be replaced as needed.

“We have maintainers who have been doing maintenance on legacy platforms, the KC-135s and B-1s, so we feel we have the maintainers able to support this workload,” he said. “We are postured to work with our Boeing partners, as well as our supply chain partners, to give us everything that’s required to return this aircraft back to its operating base. The men and women of the 568th [AMXS] are excited to take this into the future.”

When people look back on this historic day, Lowe said he hopes they remember the picture of the aircraft coming in. Two of Tinker’s firetrucks sprayed their water cannons to form a water bridge for the aircraft to taxi under and a large crowd was on hand to greet the aircraft and crew.

“That’s the purpose,” he said. “We’re not here to just turn wrenches and change tires. We’re here to put airplanes back in the air. There are American Airmen who are putting their lives on the line every day and the hard work of the men and women of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex make sure those aircraft get there safely.”

The 76th AMXG and 10th FLTS anticipates 22 KC-46 c-check jets next fiscal year and, eventually, approximately 90 jets a year once all 179 of the KC-46s have been delivered, Camper said. Until then, the 10th FLTS’s KC-46 flight will continue to prepare by traveling to other bases to fly KC-46s and building the experience required to be functional check pilots, boom operators and the subject matter experts for the aircraft.