KC-46 Tiger Team: Keeping the Balance

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nathan Eckert
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Team McConnell's vision is to set the standard for the next generation of rapid global mobility. In this effort this past week, McConnell hosted a KC-46A Pegasus tiger team. The goal of the visit was to give Airmen from across the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and other refueling wings a forum to discuss directly with Boeing engineers and technicians how to expand the Pegasus's airlift capabilities.


"We're aiming to enhance what the KC-46 as a platform can do," said Lt. Col Larry Wendt, Tiger Team System Program Office (SPO) lead. "It was very important for both the SPO and the Boeing engineers to get eyes-on feedback."


The team first visited Travis Air Force Base, California, which handles more cargo and passengers annually than any other military air terminal in the United States, before traveling to Wichita. The objective was to witness individual airlift processes and for engineers to discuss how to expand capabilities directly with the maintainers and flight crews that work with the airframe.


"We were looking at cargo operations in general and how that would apply to the KC-46," said Mr. Barry Teschlog, Boeing mass engineer. "We observed procedures in a real-world cargo mission so that we could gain a better understanding of mission requirements and what we can do as engineers to simplify aircraft requirements."


During the exchange, one of the main focuses was the Automated Performance Tool, which is a software used to calculate aircraft balance. Aircrews use the tool to ensure the tanker maintains its center of balance during airlift and refueling missions.


"Our goal is to take aerial refueling and cargo requirements to make the software better for the users," Lt. Col. Wendt said. Adding the items the team identified show a path forward to speeding up the process aircrews go through to prepare for a mission.


January of 2022 will mark three years since the Air Force added the first KC-46A to its arsenal. In this time, Team McConnell has led the charge on aircraft education, training and operations. However, while 22nd and 931st Airmen have laid the groundwork for the new airframe, this tiger team plans to strengthen the entire Pegasus fleet.


"It's not just what McConnell will get out of this, it's what the KC-46 enterprise will gain," said Senior Master Sergeant Bruce Berglund, 22nd Operations Group Tiger Team lead. "The potential out of this [visit] will greatly reduce aircrew and maintenance time and manpower; it will also open up the aperture for cargo variety."


The exchange allowed the engineers who designed the KC-46 and those who maintain and operate it to take away lessons on advancing the aircraft, which will ultimately result in Air Mobility Command and the Air Force as a whole being able to expand global airlift capabilities.