TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The first active-duty KC-46A Pegasus is slated to arrive
at Tinker Air Force Base for routine maintenance three years from now, but
preparations for the new aerial refueling tanker are in full swing across the
Air Force, the program’s executive officer said.
Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson, the Air Force Program
Executive Officer for Tankers, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center,
delivered a comprehensive progress report 23 Aug at the 11th annual Tinker and
the Primes Requirements Symposium in Midwest City.
The KC-46 program hit major milestones last month. After
hundreds of hours of flight testing, the tanker was cleared for production Aug.
Six days later, the Air Force ordered initial production
of 19 planes in a $2.8 billion contract with Boeing. Similar buys are scheduled annually through
the 2020s, he said.
“We are off to the races,” General Richardson said.
Officials broke ground in July on the 158-acre KC-46A
Tanker Sustainment Campus at Tinker. A total of 14 hangar docks are planned for
the repair, maintenance and overhaul of 179 planes the Department of Defense
currently plans to buy. The depot operation is expected to create more than
The first mission-ready Pegasus is scheduled for delivery
next Fall, General Richardson told the audience, but Tinker’s Oklahoma City Air
Logistics Complex won’t receive its first plane for routine maintenance until
Pegasus aircraft will be on a staggered maintenance
schedule, with aircraft systems worked on every two years in an eight-year
cycle, the general said. A KC-46’s first scheduled maintenance stop, for
example, should last 14-16 days.
“It’s not like a KC-135 (tanker) coming in here for 160
flow days, but it’s also not coming back every five years,” General Richardson
said. “It’s coming back every two years.”
Deliveries of KC-46 support equipment have already begun
at McConnell AFB, KS, and Altus AFB, OK, the general said. McConnell will be
the first base to fly the Pegasus aircraft in 2017, flown by both Active Duty
and Reserve aircrews. Crews will be
trained at Altus.
“If you go to those two bases now, you’ll see hangars full
of support equipment,” the general said. “By and large, the whole system is
getting ready to start operating this weapon system.”
The 448th Supply Chain Management Wing at Tinker will
eventually handle the platform’s supply chain, the general said. Other KC-46
maintenance and sustainment operations will be based at Ogden Air Logistics
Complex in Utah, and Warner Robins ALC, GA.
The joint Boeing-Air Force team is operating five KC-46s
in the flight test program. Flight testing is about one-third complete, General
“Brig. Gen. Mark Johnson (OC-ALC commander) and I work
very closely and our goal is to make sure that Tinker Air Force Base and his
complex are ready,” General Richardson said.
“I think it’s a great time for Oklahoma City
with all the KC-46 activity that’s going on here.”