Forging the 46

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – -- U.S. Air Force leaders and Oklahoma community partners were in attendance for the historical reactivation of the 56th Air Refueling Squadron and the dedication of the KC-46A Pegasus formal training center, Aug. 30, 2016, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

The event consisted of an assumption of command for the reactivated 56th ARS, dedication of the Leverett Formal Training Center, speeches from key Air Force and community leaders and concluded with a tour of the new facility for attendees and members of the media.

The 56th ARS will be the formal training unit for the USAF’s next-generation refueling aircraft. The integration of the KC-46 into the Air Force is one of the top three aircraft modernization programs intended to maintain global vigilance, reach and power.

“Today’s event marks an important milestone for AETC and the United States Air Force,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, commander of Air Education and Training Command. “Safety, proficiency and the ability to make the complex seem routine were the hallmark of the Air Force’s refueling training with Altus AFB leading the way. Today, we stand again, on the shoulders of giants, as we reach a new milestone in dedicating our newest formal training unit, the 56th Air Refueling Squadron.”

The activation of the 56th ARS included the assumption of command by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Ruttenber. The new training center is vital to future U.S. Air Force aerial refueling and joint service operations since it will serve as the first stop for all KC-46 aircrew members.

“Members of the 56th ARS are AETC’s and the Air Force’s first KC-46 aircrew members,” said Ruttenber. “The 56th ARS activation and dedication of the formal training unit is truly a paradigm shift in air refueling and continuation of the long tradition of the 56th."

Community partners made a point to recognize the unique partnership between Altus AFB and the City of Altus.

“With the KC-46 coming to Altus, a lot of good things are going to happen and it’s all thanks to the community,” said U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma.

The 56th ARS will begin training aircrew members in fall of 2016. KC-46 aircrew students train using pilot and boom operator simulators to conduct hands-on training before in-flight training missions.