TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
For the first time at Travis AFB, a mixed formation of seven U.S. Air Force KC-10 and KC-46 tanker aircraft took off in tactical formation in order to conduct an integrated mission sortie for advanced tanker training on Feb. 8.
“The integrated mission sortie, or IMS, is one of many deliberate efforts to operationalize the Air Mobility Command commander’s intent to communicate, navigate and maneuver at tempo in any area of responsibility,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col Andrew Baer, 6th Air Refueling Squadron operations officer and the event detachment commander. “It combines advanced tanker maneuvers and tactics with autonomous distributed mission planning and decision making to provide participants high-end warfighting training in a relatively low-cost and controlled environment.”
Three KC-10 Extenders operated by the 6th and 9th Air Refueling Squadrons from Travis AFB, two KC-46A Pegasuses assigned to the 305th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and two KC-46s from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB, Kansas, took to the skies over Northern California to demonstrate the combined ability to rapidly generate and project air power while integrating the capabilities of both airframes.
“Events like the IMS provide an opportunity to expose our Airmen to the next generation mobility tanker platform and further strengthen our ready and lethal air mobility force,” said Baer. “This training is an investment in the global air mobility and tanker profession.”
While Travis AFB routinely executes integrated mission sorties, these events have generally been conducted solely with 60th Air Mobility Wing-assigned KC-10s. The KC-46s will eventually replace the entire fleet of KC-10s, which have served the Air Force for more than four decades.
“This specific integrated mission sortie was planned and executed with that transition in mind, preserving the validated tactics, techniques and procedures mastered in the KC-10, advancing capabilities in the KC-46 and ensuring aircrew and aircraft interoperability across the tanker enterprise,” said Lt. Col. Eli Persons, 9th Air Refueling Squadron commander.
The sortie aimed to further bolster collaboration between KC-10 and KC-46 professionals.
“For me, this event demonstrated two important things: one, that our KC-10 folks here at Travis Air Force Base are full throttle, max performing the aircraft and sprinting through the finish line; and two, that the KC-46 is a very capable aircraft that absolutely advances the air mobility mission and will be a welcome addition to the Travis Air Force Base fleet,” said Persons. “I’m proud of our Airmen, whether flying a KC-10 or KC-46, in the Mission Planning Cell or in any other mission generation or support role. Our team worked together to execute this complex mission with precision, professionalism and pride. Day in and day out, when the nation calls, our Airmen say ‘Let’s go!’ and this event was no different.”
The 60th AMW is expecting to receive its first KC-46s in July.