Aerospace Ground Equipment: Out with the old, in with the new

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. The Aerospace Ground Equipment flight has turned in 70 various types of KC-135 Stratotanker AGE equipment to make room for 247 KC-46 Pegasus AGE equipment within the next five years, which will bring their inventory to a total of approximately 450.

The unit took the old equipment to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service allowing the equipment to be assigned to units at MacDill Air Force Base and Altus Air Force Base as well as to Niagara Falls and Pease Air National Guard Bases.

Some equipment has made its way to the shop while more is on the way. The new equipment includes: air-start carts, power carts, nitrogen carts, light carts, JLG aerial lifts, B-series stands, air-conditioning units, tow bars, munitions-handling units, four new kinds of pneumatic-aircraft jacks, jack testers, tire jacks, axle jacks and fuel bowsers.

The new aircraft is 15 percent larger than the KC-135 airframe, which requires the equipment used to maintain the aircraft to be bigger and sturdier. The equipment is also built for longevity and is loaded with features, which makes the items even larger and heavier than the 30-year-older predecessors. Across the board the KC-46’s equipment weighs much more than its KC-135 counterpart; for instance, the KC-135’s air-start cart weighs in at 4,720 pounds whereas the KC-46’s cart comes in weighing 13,410 pounds.

The days of being able to push equipment by hand alone are gone, said Tech. Sgt. Michael Walsh, 22nd Maintenance Squadron AGE inspection and repair noncommissioned officer in charge.

“With more weight, we will need more people,” said Walsh. “[However, the new power cart] is more user-friendly and has more bells and whistles. What’s unique is its delayed shutdown.”

When maintainers are done using the power cart they will flip the power switch, then the engine will slow down to idle, which will allow the unit to cool down safely before shutting itself off completely. The new generator will have increased longevity but also have amplified capabilities that the KC-46 requires.

“The old power carts would work with the KC-46 but there are instances when the KC-46 will need the new cart’s higher power output and features,” said Master Sgt. Allan Shurtz, 931st Maintenance Squadron AGE section chief. “The generators put out more than twice as much power and have an additional power cable, which is necessary to fully power the KC-46.”

Currently, most of the equipment is waiting the KC-46’s arrival, but the AGE Airmen have been training with it to familiarize themselves and the B-series stands have been in use on McConnell’s fleet in KC-135s.

Additionally, in a recent storm the base’s B-47 Stratojet static display had its left wing ripped off during the quick, strong bursts of wind. Fortunately, the KC-46 jacks are able to be used to repair the aircraft.

With the new equipment, 22nd MXS Airmen are prepared for the KC-46 arrival this October while still maintaining the current air refueling mission.