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McConnell conducts exercise to test ACE capabilities

A KC-46A Pegasus from McConnell Air Force Base gets refueled by a McConnell KC-135 Stratotanker over the skies of Kansas during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

A KC-46A Pegasus from McConnell Air Force Base gets refueled by a McConnell KC-135 Stratotanker over the skies of Kansas during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Technical Sgt. Casey Lackie, 349th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator, adjusts his periscope prior to refueling a KC-46A Pegasus over the skies of Kansas during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Technical Sgt. Casey Lackie, 349th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator, adjusts his periscope prior to refueling a KC-46A Pegasus over the skies of Kansas during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Airmen from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and 931st Air Refueling Wing conduct a hot-pit refuel of a KC-135 during Operation SHIMA PRIDE at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Samantha Perez)

Airmen from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and 931st Air Refueling Wing conduct a hot-pit refuel of a KC-135 during Operation SHIMA PRIDE at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Samantha Perez)

Airmen from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and 931st Air Refueling Wing conduct a hot-pit refuel of a KC-135 during Operation SHIMA PRIDE at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Brenden Beezley)

Airmen from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and 931st Air Refueling Wing conduct a hot-pit refuel of a KC-135 during Operation SHIMA PRIDE at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Brenden Beezley)

A KC-46A Pegasus from McConnell Air Force Base approaches a McConnell KC-135 Stratotanker over the skies of Kansas during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

A KC-46A Pegasus from McConnell Air Force Base approaches a McConnell KC-135 Stratotanker over the skies of Kansas during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Technical Sgt. Casey Lackie, 349th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator, connects his boom and refuels a KC-46A Pegasus over the skies of Kansas during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Technical Sgt. Casey Lackie, 349th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator, connects his boom and refuels a KC-46A Pegasus over the skies of Kansas during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Pecora (left), 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and Airman 1st Class Jude Springer, 349th Air Refueling Squadron, add engine oil to the four engines of their KC-135 Stratotanker at an off-site location near Topeka, Kansas, during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Pecora (left), 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and Airman 1st Class Jude Springer, 349th Air Refueling Squadron, add engine oil to the four engines of their KC-135 Stratotanker at an off-site location near Topeka, Kansas, during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Technical Sgt. Casey Lackie, 349th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator, adds engine oil to one of four engines of the KC-135 at an off-site location near Topeka, Kansas, during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Technical Sgt. Casey Lackie, 349th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator, adds engine oil to one of four engines of the KC-135 at an off-site location near Topeka, Kansas, during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Pecora, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, manages the refueling process at an off-site location near Topeka, Kansas, during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Pecora, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, manages the refueling process at an off-site location near Topeka, Kansas, during Operation SHIMA PRIDE Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

Airmen from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and 931st Air Refueling Wing conduct a hot-pit refuel of a KC-135 during Operation SHIMA PRIDE at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Brenden Beezley)
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Airmen from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and 931st Air Refueling Wing conduct a hot-pit refuel of a KC-135 during Operation SHIMA PRIDE at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Brenden Beezley)

Senior Airman Alexander Boehmerstelle, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels specialist, performs a hot-pit refuel of a KC-135 during Operation SHIMA PRIDE at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Brenden Beezley)
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Senior Airman Alexander Boehmerstelle, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels specialist, performs a hot-pit refuel of a KC-135 during Operation SHIMA PRIDE at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amn Brenden Beezley)

Airmen from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and 931st Air Refueling Wing conduct a hot-pit refuel of a KC-135 during Operation SHIMA PRIDE at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Samantha Perez)
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Airmen from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and 931st Air Refueling Wing conduct a hot-pit refuel of a KC-135 during Operation SHIMA PRIDE at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Nov. 30. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of Agile Combat Employment or ACE. The exercise simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders making decisions in a dynamic environment. The team tested themselves in hot-pit refueling, dual-defueling and off-site servicing. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Samantha Perez)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --

Hot-pit operations, dual defueling and off-station servicing were the latest demonstrations of Agile Combat Employment capabilities, during a local exercise here, Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

 

The local exercise, dubbed Operation SHIMA PRIDE, challenged 22nd and 931st Air Refueling Wing aircrews, maintainers, fuels and other support personnel with a variety of tasks designed to expand both individual and unit-level ACE capabilities.

 

“The operation creates a hub and spoke concept in the vicinity of McConnell Air Force Base,” said Capt. Henry Darr, 22nd ARW wing ACE chief. “The crews operate under mission type orders and are provided an Air Tasking Order instead of a regular schedule format. Observers are on the aircraft to provide exercise injects which requires the crews to deviate from their plan on mission type orders.”

 

Operation SHIMA PRIDE simulated day and night combat operations with aircraft commanders having to make decisions in a dynamic environment, he added. The end result is to provide air refueling under a contested environment in deployed conditions while operating on mission type orders.  Hot-pit refueling and dual-defueling are two practices essential to that mission.

 

Hot-pit refueling occurs when a tanker has at least one engine running, while onloading fuel. Dual defueling occurs when a tanker lands and off-loads fuel using two tanker vehicles or fuel bladders. Both of these practices serve to minimize a tanker’s ground time.

 

“KC-46 Pegasus aircraft conducted dual defuel operations in support of a simulated fighter integrated combat turn or dual refuel to quickly turn tanker aircraft. KC-135 Stratotankers conducted hot-pit refueling operations to quickly regenerate a tanker at an austere location. Both aircraft will have their aircrew service fuel, oil and hydraulic fluid while off-station,” said Darr. “Lastly, aircraft commanders are put into situations where the plans they left home-station with will no longer work and they have to utilize their mission-type orders in order to accomplish their refueling objectives.”

 

The exercise was coordinated by the 22nd ARW’s ACE Team. Formed in July 2021, the ACE team’s mission is to be proactive and reactive in an operational capacity to increase survivability while generating global combat capability. Operation SHIMA PRIDE is the latest demonstration of their efforts.

 

“Operation SHIMA PRIDE builds our fundamental skillsets required to conduct our mission in contested and austere environments, and meet the needs of combatant commanders,” said Col. Nate Vogel, 22nd ARW commander. “Our 22 ARW ACE team, and the Airmen at McConnell AFB, have taken Agile Combat Employment from concept to operation in a matter of weeks. We should all be proud of how far we have come, while also acknowledging there is a long way to go.”