64th ARS Airmen fly 36 hours aboard KC-46A Pegasus

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Felicia Przydzial
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Three active-duty Airmen from the 64th Air Refueling Squadron joined local Guardsmen on a record-setting 36-hour sortie aboard a KC-46A Pegasus, Nov. 16-17, 2022.

Organizationally, the 64th ARS is part of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, located at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, however, it is geographically separated and operationally controlled by the 157th Air Refueling Wing located at Pease.

The crew flew 16,000 miles taking off from Pease, flying over Hawaii and around Guam before turning around and starting the flight back to New Hampshire. The flight is now Air Mobility Command’s longest mission to date.

“This extended mission is yet another example of capable Airmen taking charge and moving out to accelerate our employment of the KC-46A,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander. “This Total Force mission boldly highlights the imperative to think differently, change the way we do business, and provide options to the Joint Force.”

It takes a continuous supply of fuel to stay aloft for hours on end. Since every KC-46A can itself be refueled in flight, each aircraft can persist in operations areas to provide sustained support to armed aircraft. The endurance mission put these capabilities on display, taking on fuel three times throughout the flight and delivering gas to F-22 Raptors while flying a closed-loop pattern off the coast of Hawaii.

It takes more than gas to stay in the air — the crew must also be sustained, and this was another refueling barrier tested and shattered on the mission. Taking turns at the stick were three aircrews, two from ANG’s 133rd Air Refueling Squadron under the 157th ARW, and the other from the 64th ARS. While one crew flew, the other two rested, highlighting total force operations.

The 64th ARS aircrew were Lt. Col. Brandon Stock and Capt. Dan Dixon, both 64th ARS pilots, and Tech. Sgt. Amy James, 64th ARS instructor boom operator.

“My longest sortie prior to the endurance flight was 14 hours,” said James. “The 36-hour flight was definitely a unique experience, something I never thought I’d be doing in this aircraft. We are certainly keeping things interesting in the KC-46 community.”

The 64th ARS was temporarily deactivated when the local Air National Guard decommissioned the KC-135 Stratotaker. Once the 157th ARW completed the conversion to the KC-46A Pegasus, the 64th ARS was reactivated on July 8, 2022. By December 2023, the squadron will have 160 Airmen assigned to the unit.

“This mission was a true example of Total Force Integration,” said Lt. Col. Brian Carloni, the 157th Operations Group commander. “The expertise of both our Guard and Active-Duty Airmen in executing this mission, demonstrated how critical teamwork is in any wartime scenario.”