TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) —
Maj. General Joel Jackson, Air Force District of Washington commander, and an aircrew made up of members from the 60th and 349th Air Mobility Wings delivered the first aircraft to Travis AFB directly from Boeing Field, located in Seattle, Washington.
To commemorate this milestone, Travis AFB hosted a celebratory event in the newly constructed three-bay hangar inviting base members and leaders from the local community.
During the event, key leaders provided remarks including a video presentation by John Garamendi, congressional representative of California’s 3rd District, and remarks by retired Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox, Boeing Air Force and Space Force Systems vice president, Maj. Gen. Corey Martin, 18th Air Force commander, Jackson, as well as Travis AFB leadership including Col. Derek Salmi, 60th AMW commander, and Col. Terence McGee, 349th AMW vice commander.
“This has required the concerted effort of all who fly, fix, support and heal as part of the mobility mission here at Travis and has translated directly into today’s capabilities,” Salmi said.
The KC-46A will be operated by the 6th and 9th Air Refueling Squadrons for the active component and the 70th and 79th Air Refueling Squadrons for the Air Force Reserve Command.
“While we celebrate today, the great event of bringing in the KC-46, what we honor every day is the culture of an air mobility wing,” Jackson said. “The culture of what we have here at Travis AFB.”
In preparation for the arrival of the KC-46A, the base commenced construction on the $136.2 million three-bay hangar in December 2018. Following five years of work, the project reached its completion in May 2023. This expansive hangar, spanning approximately 174,300 square feet, will serve as the Department of Defense‘s exclusive KC-46A support facility on the west coast.
“The first feeling I feel is pride,” said Lt. Col. Paul Overdiek, 749th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “We’re ready to operate it [KC-46] and we’re ready to maintain it.”
The KC-46A is equipped with several self-protection, defensive and communication features making it more survivable in a contested environment. According to Boeing, recent contracts between Boeing and the Air Force will continue to invest in advanced data and communication capabilities.
“The KC-46A provides survivability, connectivity and situational awareness that are unprecedented in a tanker, allowing the crew to detect, identify, avoid and defeat threats in contested environments,” said Lynn Fox, Boeing vice president and KC-46A program manager. “We’ll continue to partner with the Air Force to evolve the Pegasus’ capabilities to meet the needs of the mission.”
The KC-10 Extender is planned for complete divestment by September 2024, making way for the KC-46 to take over the role of being the air refueling aircraft of the “Gateway to the Pacific.” This transition will launch the KC-46A as the new face of air refueling operations, ensuring the continued readiness and effectiveness of air operations, worldwide.
“Beginning today, the KC-46 stands ready to take the baton pass from the most faithful of tankers, the KC-10 Extender, whose distinctive silhouette has graced the skies over Solano County for the past three decades and extended American power worldwide for more than 40 years with its defining characteristics of strength and class,” Salmi said.