Defueling twice the speed, with all the gas you need
By Airman 1st Class Zachary Willis, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 14, 2021
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – The 22ndAir Refueling Wing Agile Combat Employment team (ACE) and the 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron achieved a first-ever dual defuel milestone Oct. 12-13, 2021, enabling the KC-46A Pegasus to further McConnell’s aerial refueling mission.
“The dual defuel capability now enables a KC-46 to support a fighter unit’s Integrated Combat Turn at an austere location,” said Capt. Henry Darr, 22nd Operational Support Squadron ACE chief. “The KC-46 can offload a considerable amount of fuel in a very short time to multiple refueling vehicles.”
This allows one KC-46 to support the refueling of a 4-ship of fighters on the ground at an austere location in the shortest time possible, and continue flight operations.
In order to safely and properly conduct the defuel it took coordination between maintenance, Petroleum Oil and Lube (POL), and the ACE office. It required all parties to think outside the box but within the capabilities of technical orders.
“McConnell will now be able to perform and train proficiency on this task,” said Master Sgt. Timothy Bulluck, ACE deputy chief. “The KC-46 can now defuel twice as much fuel in the same amount of time as previous defuels. This advances McConnell and Air Mobility Command because it provides increased capability that translates across multiple mission sets.”
The new process allows the Pegasus to fly into exercises to perform at an increased rate, allowing the aircraft to reduce its time on the ground and get its crew back into the air supporting operations.
Being that this is the first time and the McConnell team is benchmarking processes and capabilities for a newer airframe, safety and caution are at the forefront.
The team found a complication before starting the defuel between POL’s Technical order (TO) and the Airframes TO. After coordination between POL, ACE, and maintenance along with Air Force Petroleum (AFPET) and the KC-46 engineers they found there was nothing precluding them from performing the task and came to the conclusion with AFPET and KC-46 engineers to conduct the operation within KC-46 technical guidance.
“I’ve never seen a team win a championship while playing on their heels. There is no doubt, the 22 Air Refueling Wing is full-speed ahead on ACE,” said Col. Nate Vogel 22nd ARW commander. “I am so proud of Captain Darr and the 22nd ARW team for realizing what needed to be done and then taking the initiative to get there. They are testing new procedures on a jet that is still going through testing itself. This is the first time a dual defuel has been accomplished with a KC-46 in this manner....the team had to write the procedures, coordinate them with a host of agencies, and then execute something that had never been done. That is aspirational.”