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By Airman 1st Class Joseph Morales
Joint Base MDL Public Affairs
The Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst community celebrated a monumental milestone for the installation as it welcomed its first KC-46A Pegasus to its new home in an arrival ceremony Nov. 9, 2021. The event marked the beginning of new total force aerial refueling operations at the joint base, making it the first and only joint base with KC-46 lead operations.
The aircraft, delivered by U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Camerer, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, and Brig. Gen. Neil Richardson, Air Mobility Command’s Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Operations deputy director, will be operated and maintained by the 305th and 514th Air Mobility Wings, and will receive installation support from the 87th Air Base Wing.
“The arrival of the KC-46 at JB MDL signifies the continuation of a great tradition of air refueling in the 305th and 514th Air Mobility Wings,” said Col. Scott Wiederholt, 305th AMW commander. “A tradition underscored by a strategically located installation that is postured to provide increased and enduring capabilities to execute our nation’s most important missions. The KC-46 is now part of an impressive lineage of aircraft and great aviators.”
Joint Base MDL was selected to receive the KC-46 in 2017 by meeting all operational mission requirements within the U.S. Air Force’s tanker recapitalization strategy. The installation, with co-located operations between active and reserve components, expects to receive 15 additional aircraft during Fiscal Year 2022, with nine more planned for Fiscal Year 2023.
”The Reserve Citizen Airmen of the Freedom Wing are honored to be a part of the historical arrival of the KC-46,” said Col. William Gutermuth, 514th AMW commander. “We look forward to the next generation joint partnership we have formed with our mission partners across the installation and will continue to provide mission ready Airmen ready at a moment’s notice to augment our active duty counterparts.”
The KC-46 maintains air refueling edge through the use of both the refueling boom and drogue systems, allowing for simultaneous air refueling of multiple aircraft with wing pods. The KC-46 is designed to refuel allied and coalition aircraft and provide multifunctional support, like passenger and cargo transport along with medical and humanitarian relief.
It was most recently approved to refuel all variants of F-15s and F-16s, extending its range of support to 62% of all receiver aircraft that request air refueling support.
On top of its air refueling, cargo, and passenger capabilities, the KC-46 will amplify next-generation capabilities such as the Advanced Battle Management System, which demonstrates the ability to collect, process, and share data from air, land, sea and space domains at exponential rates.
“Today, we send KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders around the world to enable Global Reach…providing capabilities only this country can provide [and] options to our senior leaders no other nation can offer,” Wiederholt said. “From this day forward, the aircrew, maintainers, Port Dawgs and support personnel will place their indelible mark upon our nation’s tanker legacy in the KC-46.”
The arrival of the KC-46 on Joint Base MDL reinforces the role of the installation in enabling global reach.
“Today highlights the important role our installation has in delivering warfighting capabilities for combatant commanders anywhere in the world,” said Col. Wes Adams, Joint Base MDL commander. “The arrival of our first KC-46 is the result of close coordination with our community and mission partners who worked hard over the years to bring this mission to JB MDL. Today we celebrate this incredible milestone in our joint base’s history.”
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