MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --
McConnell’s 22nd Maintenance Group is adding a new squadron today, the 722nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
The new squadron will be comprised of Airmen from the 22nd AMXS, Black Aircraft Maintenance Unit, now able to focus solely on the KC-135. The separation of squadrons allows Airmen and their commanders to focus all their attention on their specific aircraft and mission set.
The 722nd AMXS is a squadron intended to allow the 22nd AMXS the ability to make the KC-46 fully operational while the KC-135 is phased out of McConnell over the upcoming years.
According to Senior Master Sgt. James Walters, 722d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent, McConnell plans to phase out the KC-135 and replace it with the KC-46 over the next several years. Since both aircraft fall under the 22nd MXG, they need to be separated into two different squadrons to allow for the complete deactivation of the KC-135. Without this separation, and the creation of a new, temporary squadron, the current transition process from one aircraft to another does not allow for one aircraft to be deactivated without automatically deactivating the other.
“Adding a ‘7’ to a squadron/group’s designation is to signify a ‘temporary’ status,” said Walters. “The 722nd designation has been initiated at the squadron level to separate the two tanker weapon systems within the 22nd MXG. The separation of the squadrons allows for the complete deactivation of the KC-135 while allowing the KC-46 to stay within the 22nd MXG.”
"Splitting the squadrons allows the KC-135 to continue to do what they have done for the last 60 years," said CMSgt. Dustin Wilder, 722nd AMXS senior enlisted leader. "This gives the KC-46 crews the opportunity to fully engage themselves in the advancement of the aircraft."
As the KC-46 moves closer to becoming fully operational, having a squadron to focus its full attention solely on the necessities of each airframe will allow for more effective use of resources.
"The main reason was to ensure commanders could focus on the unique weapon system requirements," said Col. Emily Farkas, 22nd MXG commander. "For instance, the KC-46 is a new weapon system with different sustainment and support as well as different training requirements for the Airmen."
The creation of the 722nd allows both squadrons and commanders to assess airframe, training, morale and other needs of their Airmen in a more effective manner.
"The activation of a separate KC-135 squadron will not make maintenance faster, but there will be an easier scope of responsibility for the commander that will provide efficiencies for both the 722nd AMXS and the 22nd AMXS,” said Farkas. “Maj. Eubanks [22nd AMXS commader] will go from commanding over 700 personnel to just over 400, which will assist in maintaining good order and discipline in the unit."
In preparation for his command, Maj. Robert Hammerbeck, 722nd AMXS commander, wanted to start with these words:
“I’ve spent the majority of my time in maintenance with KC-135 maintainers, so the opportunity to lead a new KC-135 squadron like this is very exciting”, said Hammerbeck. “The KC-46 is a great addition to the inventory but the KC-135 still has a lot of miles left to fly and will need to be ready to face any challenge that comes our way, and the 722nd AMXS will be ready.”