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Total force effort trains future KC-46 pilots

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. (AFNS) -- A group of total force Airmen has been selected to participate in the initial operational test and evaluation of the KC-46 Pegasus as the Air Force prepares for the tanker’s arrival here.

Each KC-46 will be equipped to receive fuel in flight and the crews who will fly during the IOTE will need to be trained in receiver air refueling.

"Since McConnell is the only base that has receptacle equipped KC-135 (Stratotankers), known as R/T or receiver/tanker, we are in the unique position to perform the training before crews depart for Boeing-led training in Miami and Seattle," said Maj. Christopher Markley, the 931st Air Refueling Wing’s KC-46 Program Integration Office reserve operations chief.

The 931st ARW has been working closely with the 22nd ARW to build a training program to allow the IOTE crewmembers to become receiver pilots.

"Cooperation with the 22nd Operations Group training shop has allowed us to successfully train all of our required crewmembers without impacting mission effectiveness on the active-duty assets," Markley said. "In fact, the relationship has been so effective that several of our crewmembers are now R/T instructor pilots themselves and are able to train both active duty and reserve crews in the receiver mission, adding needed IPs to the base and ensuring training capacity."

An Air National Guard crewmember from Pease ANG Base, New Hampshire, began his receiver training last week and will continue it for the next few weeks with Reserve and active-duty crews.

"So far I have found refueling as a receiver challenging to learn, but by no means insurmountable," said Lt. Col. Marc Zubricki, the 157th OG director of operations. "The instructors here have all been great to work with, and I have had the benefit of being scheduled for numerous events each week. With each flight I grow more comfortable flying so close behind the tanker."

The training represents a culmination of cooperation between total force units.

"It's a great example of how the (total force integration) can benefit the Air Force overall," Markley said.

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