71 RQS is first HC-130J operational unit to receive fuel from KC-46A Pegasus

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rebeckah Medeiros
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Two KC-46A Pegasus aircraft assigned to the 916th Air Refueling wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, provided air-to-air refueling for an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft assigned to the 71st Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Aug. 24, 2021.

As the first HC-130J operational unit to receive fuel from a KC-46A Pegasus, the 71st RQS is able to sustain rescue operations for a prolonged period of time. This capability is essential for the success of rescue missions.

The KC-46A is bringing a modern edge to the air-to-air refueling toolkit, said Maj. Joel Primm, 71st RQS HC-130J instructor pilot.

“Needing to get the KC-46 online and be able to refuel with the rest of the Air Force inventory is crucial for the longevity of the Air Force,” Primm said.

Up until this point, the only refueling between an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft and a KC-46A Pegasus was with the HC-130J test squadron at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

“The purpose of this training was to get us three instructor pilots: myself, Maj. Patrick Robinson and Lt. Col. Phillip Varilek, ready to teach everyone in our unit how to refuel with the KC-46,” Primm said. “I was honored to be a part of getting our community into this integration and the future of refueling for the Air Force.”

The KC-46A Pegasus is different from its predecessors by using a camera system for refueling rather than a boom operator aligning the boom through a window. Even with the differences in the aircraft, the KC-46A Pegasus brings a robust capability to Air Combat Command and the Air Force.

Primm said as the KC-46A develops, it’s important to ensure training matches the capability. Therefore, it is crucial to perform air-to-air refuel training with them.

The KC-46 refueling mission was a progressive move towards dexterity across the Air Force.

“It is always exciting to watch history being made,” said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Hamblin, 71st RQS HC-130J Combat King II loadmaster. “As technology improves, I am in awe of the visions that become reality. With this training flight, our pilots were able to get first-hand experience, provide training, and develop any required tactics, techniques and procedures.”