McConnell helps Japan improve use of KC-46 Published Sept. 7, 2023 By Airman 1st Class William Lunn 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Two Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) members from the 405th Air Refueling Squadron, Miho Air Base, and two from the Air Staff Office (ASO) of the Japan Ministry of Defense (JMOD) toured McConnell to better learn how to operate the KC-46A Pegasus. On Aug. 27, they began their three-day tour of McConnell concentrating on an in-depth look at refueling operations and how to employ the tankers into their mission. “The purpose of the visit was to inform the JASDF on how the US Air Force employs, trains, maintains, and integrates the KC-46A operationally as they acquire KC-46s of their own,” said Capt. Andrew Spicer, 349th Air Refueling Squadron KC-46 pilot, liaison for the visit. “They got a better sense of the facilities they needed to care for their equipment and processes that optimize the effectiveness of the KC-46 in the mission planning cell.” Japan is the first foreign country to use the new refueling platform, has already begun integrating the aircraft into operations. Overcoming the hurdles of integrating a new aircraft into existing operations, updating infrastructure and training personnel is complex. The tour allowed McConnell Airmen to demonstrate their knowledge on effective operations to help minimize the learning curve and ensure a successful missions and operations. The visit included touring several agencies, in particular: the Mission Planning Cell to see how the KC-46 is employed, Maintenance to see how refueling components and air crew equipment are maintained, and Air-Crew Flight Equipment to get a hands-on demo with Night Vision Goggles. “It was great to get feedback on how to better operate the KC-46A, we were surprised to see how much the tactical system on the aircraft has been modernized,” said Lt. Col. Shingo Nakata, ASO/JMOD. “It is my objective to come here and learn, so I can bring strategy back to Japan on how to more efficiently carry out aerial refueling missions and to make smart purchases we need for our aviation equipment.” The visit concluded with the JASDF and JMOD members reflecting with McConnell Airmen on their opportunities to explore the advantages of the KC-46’s capabilities and how it has not only improved their understanding of the mission, but has also reinforced the strength of the alliance between the two nations. “It was an honor and a pleasure to meet with our foreign allies,” said Spicer. “International cooperation strengthens both our militaries in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region and enables enhanced interoperability and defense integration to strengthen deterrence against hostile actors and evolving threats.” The JASDF received its first KC-46A tanker Oct. 29, 2021, at Miho Air Base, Japan, delivered by a 22nd ARW aircrew who ferried the aircraft from the Boeing plant in Seattle, to Japan. The JASDF received its second KC-46 in February 2022, and is purchasing four additional KC-46s.