McConnell Reservists fly KC-46A at Cope North 21

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein
  • 931st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

An aircrew of more than 20 Airmen from the 931st Air Refueling Wing flew a KC-46A Pegasus assigned to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., as part of Cope North 21, last month at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. It is the U.S. Pacific Air Forces largest multilateral exercise.


This was the first time the KC-46A was utilized in the annual exercise. In addition to aircrew members from the 924th, 905th and 18th Air Refueling Squadrons, there were three members of the 931st Maintenance Group, three members of the 22nd Maintenance Group.


Cope North is an annual exercise that serves as a keystone event enhancing United States, Australian and Japanese forces relationships, ultimately promoting stability and security throughout the Indo-Pacific. Established in 1978 as a quarterly bilateral exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Cope North moved to Andersen AFB in 1999.


During the event, Air Forces from the United States, Japan and Australia conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations, as well as conduct large force employment and combat air forces training.  The exercise kicks off with a HA/DR event to reinforce the three countries’ combined ability to support the Indo-Pacific region during a natural disaster. Operations took place at Andersen AFB, Guam; Northwest Field, Guam; and Koror and Angaur, Palau.


Maj. Brian Doom, 931st Operations Support Squadron operations director and KC-46A pilot, was one of the aircrew members who flew the KC-46 during CN21. Doom began his training on the KC-46A in June 2017.


“Participating in Cope North was a great experience for me and it was the first time in four years that I truly felt like a tanker pilot once again,” said Doom.  “Being a tanker pilot is what I’ve been trained to do and what I love to do.”


Doom said the KC-46A aircrew flew an average two sorties a day during the 16-day event, allowing the aircrew to get even more experience with air refueling a variety of aircraft, including F-35 Lightnings, F/A-18 Hornets and other aircraft from 23 other flying units worldwide.


The aircraft maintainers were also able to hone their skills on the unique systems involved with the KC-46A.


Tech. Sgt. Kurtis Woltemath, 931st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Maintenance technician, was one of three Airmen from the 931st MXG who participated in CN21.  Most of his 10-year aircraft maintenance experience has involved the KC-135. 


““Most of the benefits of working on the KC-46A involve the refueling; it’s way more efficient,” Woltemath said.


As with generating most military aircraft, Woltemath and the other technicians had to be on the flightline three-to-four hours before launch to get the KC-46A ready for the multi-day exercise.


By the end, the 931st ARW offloaded 668,000 gallons of fuel to 133 receivers, and performed more than 40 flying hours. More than 1,800 U.S. Airmen, Marines and Sailors trained alongside 400 combined Koku-Jieitai and RAAF service members.