TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) —
In the process, the maintainers also beat their own turnaround time goal by a day, averaging 35 days to return the Air Force’s newest tanker to the field.
Completing work on all scheduled aircraft ahead of schedule is especially significant as the KC-46A is still in its initial operational test and evaluation phase. Typically, depot maintenance programs don’t begin until the aircraft has reached its initial operational capability.
The first KC-46A arrived at Tinker AFB for maintenance Sept. 10, 2020. The Pegasus landed to great fanfare, even receiving a water salute, or hose down, from Tinker Fire and Emergency Services.
The 568th AMXS is the first Federal Aviation Administration-designated Military Repair Station, which authorizes maintenance on commercial derivative aircraft, such as KC-46A. The MRS program holds the 568th AMXS to FAA standards, part of which includes scheduled maintenance checks on the aircraft every two years.
“My team started KC-46A activation in 2017, so our successful execution of all 23 planned aircraft during our first year of operations is very gratifying,” said Gene Harris, 568th AMXS director. “Most importantly I am humbled by this opportunity and inspired that our 568th team is living up to our squadron logo, ‘Refueling the Future.’”
The Pegasus will become a more common sight as Tinker AFB’s KC-46A campus continues to grow. Currently, two hangars are up and running, with seven more expected to come online in the future as more aircraft enter the inventory and the operations they support increase.
Once complete, the KC-46A sustainment campus will consist of 14 total docks: seven engine run-up spots, five additional ramp parking spots, an engine test cell, a systems integration lab, and administration space for a program office and aircraft maintenance personnel.
The docks will consist of two multi-bay hangars for corrosion control, fuel and programmed depot maintenance, two additional corrosion control hangars, two additional fuel hangars, and eight programmed depot maintenance hangars. The campus will also feature four additional engine run spots for 100% organic support.
Tinker AFB acquired the 156 acres for the KC-46A sustainment campus from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in 2010. The initial $44 million investment to purchase the property adjacent to the base was a joint effort between the Air Force, local and state government officials.
In the end, the Air Force will have invested over $755 million in military construction funding into the project. The campus is also expected to employ 1,300 people under the state’s Quality Jobs Program.
Based on the Boeing 767, the KC-46A is a wide-body, multi-role capable tanker, supporting missions such as aerial refueling, cargo and aeromedical evacuation, as well as passenger transport. Tinker AFB is the programmed depot maintenance hub for the KC-46A, providing all aspects of depot aircraft maintenance.