186th Air Refueling Wing hosts Leadership for KC-46 tour

  • Published
  • By Maj. Sabrina Dalton
  • 186th Air Refueling Wing

The 186th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) hosted state leadership at the base, Jan. 11-12, for a tour of a KC-46A Pegasus aircraft.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) and other state and city leadership toured Key Field Air National Guard Base’s (ANGB) existing infrastructure that is ready to house the U.S. Air Force’s most advanced aerial refueling aircraft, the KC-46 Pegasus, as the Air Force continues to modernize its tanker inventory.

Located in the “Strategic Center of the South”, Key Field ANGB, the original birthplace of air refueling, is vying to receive the new aircraft which would replace the eight KC-35R Stratotankers currently assigned to the Wing.

“We strive to be ‘The best air mobility unit, the standard by which others are measured’ and would welcome the opportunity to serve as home to the KC-46 mission,” said 186th ARW Commander, Col. Cynthia Smith. “We’re postured to receive the new aircraft which would allow Key Field to continue the air refueling mission for future generations to come.”

Key Field, the birthplace and home of aerial refueling, possesses one of the few hangars in the Air National Guard that can hold two KC-135s or house the KC-46 with only minor modifications – a substantial cost savings to the U.S. Air Force.

The 186th Air Refueling Wing holds major advantages of location, cost, history, and expertise for consideration as home to the KC-46 mission. Key Field’s optimal location is situated outside of highly trafficked airspace, yet geographically central to an area of high receiver aircraft demand.

“In the past decade and a half, the 186th Air Refueling Wing has embraced numerous mission conversions, ever adapting to support the National Security Strategy,” said Smith. “The Air National Guard’s confidence in the expertise of our members was evidenced by our selection as the formal schoolhouse for training aircrew in three different aircraft platforms.”

Key Field’s exemplary amenities have served the Air National Guard, formally the Army Air Corps, for over 80 years, earning the first ever “outstanding” rating among all Air National Guard refueling units, and has been nominated for two Collier Awards, the nation’s most prestigious aeronautical award, second only to the International Space Station.

Wicker’s visit amplifies the confidence and trust he has in the Mississippi Air National Guard’s mission proficiency and technical expertise in serving as a key component for the Air Force’s advancement.

The KC-46 was at Key Field ANGB to conduct aeromedical evacuation training with the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (AES). Additional Air National Guard participants included members of the 137th AES (Okla.), 156th AES (N.C.), and 167th AES (W. Va.). 

The 186th Air Refueling Wing provides over 1,100 personnel and eight KC-135R aircraft to Air Mobility Command for worldwide operations. The Wing also supports domestic counter-drug and emergency response missions as well as overseas combatant commander requirements with an RC-26B aircraft.  Additional units at Key Field include the 238th Air Support Operations Squadron, the 248th Air Traffic Control Squadron, and the 186th Air Operations Group. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the MSANG or contact a recruiter at 601-484-9213 or 601-484-9828. You can also find us at https://www.186arw.ang.af.mil/