Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    First in AETC; KC-46s refuel F-16 fighters

    First in AETC; KC-46s refuel F-16 fighters

    Courtesy Photo | In the skies over New Mexico, an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 49th Wing, 54th Fighter...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Robert Sizelove 

    97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

    In a first for Air Education and Training Command (AETC) and the 56th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS), two KC-46 Pegasus aircraft from the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma, along with ten F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 49th Wing, 54th Fighter Group at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, teamed up in the skies over New Mexico to train and practice air refueling operations.

    Air refueling (AR) is an integral part of air mobility and a tool for military operations around the globe. It enables both combat and non-combat related missions, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

    The December 7, 2020 training flight marked the first time an AETC KC-46 made contact with and transferred fuel to a fighter aircraft, the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

    Maj. Robert Jurgensmeier, a KC-46 evaluator pilot with the 56th ARS and lead aircraft commander of the two-ship formation, said that this latest accomplishment of KC-46 formal training unit (FTU) has far-reaching effects.

    “The schoolhouse sets the standard for others to follow. This is even more important in the KC-46,” Jurgensmeier explained. “We need to set the baseline in a new aircraft. This requires us to think and operate differently than we do with legacy tankers. We need to make sure to get it right, since what we set as the standard will be used for many years to come.”

    Jungensmeier, who previously served as a KC-135 instructor pilot, said that under the same circumstances, air refueling with the KC-46 is simpler than the KC-135 thanks to the Pegasus’ advanced tracking systems.

    “The KC-135 was old school in tracking fighters. It was a lot of fast mental math and tracking via paper and pencil. With the KC-46, the aircraft does more tracking of the receiver callsigns, the fuel offloaded and the fuel available.”

    “Refueling fighters is busier than heavy aircraft,” said Jurgnesmeier. “As the tanker, you are responsible for the safe operation of the formation, which becomes more difficult as more fighters join up.”

    Jurgensmeier continued, “You need to be able to direct traffic. Not just to de-conflict traffic, but to ensure that the tanker receiving the fighter has the fuel required for the offload.”

    Staff Sgt. Amy James, a KC-46 FTU instructor boom operator with the 56th ARS, said refueling the fighter aircraft was a new and exciting challenge.

    “It was a nice change of pace to work with the F-16s. Something about refueling fighters feels more energizing and morale boosting,” James said. “This flight in particular was also busy compared to our normal training sorties in terms of directing ten receivers to two tankers on one radio frequency.”

    She went on to say, “Since we started flying the KC-46 we haven’t had a chance to work with units outside of Altus. Hopefully the success of this flight will open up more opportunities for the 56th and other fighter wings to work with us.”



    Date Taken: 12.10.2020
    Date Posted: 12.11.2020 10:46
    Story ID: 384735
    Location: ALTUS, OK, US 

    Web Views: 76
    Downloads: 0