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KANZA warriors deliver first KC-46 to Pease

A crew chief assigned to the 157th Air Refueling Wing marshalls in the new KC-46A Pegasus on Aug. 8, 2019, at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. The plane is the most modern aerial refueler in the U.S. Air Force inventory. Members of the 931st Operations Group, consisting of members from the 924th Air Refueling Squadron and 18th Air Refueling Squadron, two of the Reserve flying squadrons at McConnell dedicated to the KC-46A Pegasus, delivered the first two KC-46s to the Airmen of the 157 ARW.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airmen Victoria Nelson)

A crew chief assigned to the 157th Air Refueling Wing marshalls in the new KC-46A Pegasus on Aug. 8, 2019, at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. The plane is the most modern aerial refueler in the U.S. Air Force inventory. Members of the 931st Operations Group, consisting of members from the 924th Air Refueling Squadron and 18th Air Refueling Squadron, two of the Reserve flying squadrons at McConnell dedicated to the KC-46A Pegasus, delivered the first two KC-46s to the Airmen of the 157 ARW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airmen Victoria Nelson)

Members of the 931st Operations Group, consisting of members from the 924th Air Refueling Squadron and 18th Air Refueling Squadron, two of the Reserve flying squadrons at McConnell dedicated to the KC-46A Pegasus, pose for a photo after delivering the first two KC-46s to the Airmen of the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H.  The 157 ARW is the first Air National Guard Unit to receive the new refueler

Members of the 931st Operations Group, consisting of members from the 924th Air Refueling Squadron and 18th Air Refueling Squadron, two of the Reserve flying squadrons at McConnell dedicated to the KC-46A Pegasus, pose for a photo after delivering the first two KC-46s to the Airmen of the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. The 157 ARW is the first Air National Guard Unit to receive the new refueler. (courtesy photo)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --

Early last month, members of the 931st Operations Group, consisting of members from the 924th Air Refueling Squadron and 18th Air Refueling Squadron, two of the Reserve flying squadrons at McConnell dedicated to the KC-46A Pegasus, delivered the first two KC-46s to the Airmen of the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. The 157 ARW is the first Air National Guard Unit to receive the new refueler.

The delivery officially established the KC-46 as part of the Air Force’s Total Force, since the active duty, Reserve and Guard can now list the aircraft as part of their inventory. This also marks the first time the Air National Guard has taken delivery of a brand new mobility aircraft. The KC-46A is the first phase in recapitalizing the U.S. Air Force's aging tanker fleet.

To ensure a seamless first delivery to the 157 ARW, the 931 OG was used in order to capitalize on their experience with KC-46 deliveries.

“The 157 ARW only has one trained aircrew to date. We asked the 924 ARS to help us with our deliveries as our single crew was unable to fly two airplanes at once,” said Lt. Col. Marc Zubricki, 157 ARW KC-46 pilot, and one of the 157th’s first two KC-46 qualified pilots.

The 931 OG aircrew included Lt. Col. Zachary Thompson, Maj. Jared Thomas, Chief Master Sgt. James Guldjord, Senior Master Sgt. Michael Stahl, and Master Sgt. Bryan Fehrenbach.

Though this wasn’t their first KC-46 delivery, the chance to deliver the first KC-46 to a Guard-led base was equally exciting for the crew.

“In my career, I’ve been fortunate to deliver two different new weapon systems to the Air Force and they are each exciting in their own way,” said Thomas, who piloted the KC-46. “To be the first all-Reserve flight crew to deliver a KC-46 to any base, alongside the first all-Guard KC-46 delivery crew, was a very unique and fun experience.”
Guldjord, who was also part of the delivery, said the experience of McConnell’s Reserve aircrew was essential to the ease of the delivery.

“It was 100 percent seamless because at this point [McConnell has] our processes set for KC-46 deliveries,” said Guldjord.

Overall, the 931 OG aircrew assisted with three aircraft in two days, two to Pease, and one to McConnell. The teamwork and comradery between the two bases was noted by those involved.

“We wanted to help them and provide a service because ultimately, this was McConnell helping the Air force out as a whole for the KC-46,” said Guldjord. “It’s helping set up a relationship for interoperability between the two bases. [Pease and McConnell] own everything that has to do with the KC-46, whether it succeeds or fails, so we have got to work together.”

Zubricki echoed the benefit of the relationship between McConnell and Pease.

“I also see a relationship going forward where 931 OG crews could help train some of our folks at Pease as we work to get our folks qualified in the new aircraft,” he said. “A lot has to happen for that to occur, but there are benefits to the entire KC-46 community if we get our aircraft flying and work to get crew qualified.”

Guldjord said the 931 OG already plans to assist with the 157 ARW next delivery. Ultimately, Pease will have 12 of the 179 KC-46s in the U.S. Air Force. It will take a couple years of training before they are fully operational.