137th AES trains for the first time on KC-46 refueling aircraft

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brigette Waltermire
  • 137th Special Operations Wing

Members of the 137th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 156th AES completed initial certifications for operations on the KC-46A Pegasus Sept. 15-17, 2023, at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma City.

A total of 25 Airmen participated in 35 aircraft and survival scenarios and 20 different medical scenarios, but also provided consistent care to simulated patients during three flyovers conducted by the 22d Air Refueling Wing aircraft. This made the scenarios more realistic as aircraft conducting real-world operations are not always able to maintain flight at a constant altitude.

“Considering our potential future fight, it is critical for our aeromedical evacuation crewmembers to be as aircraft versatile as possible,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Lane, 137th AES commander. “The KC-46 will be critical to meeting Air Mobility Command’s vision for peer-to-peer conflict. Having our crews trained on this airframe makes us ready, trained and available to meet U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and other combatant commander needs.”

The AES Airmen must understand systems for each aircraft they fly on to include aircraft configuration, emergency and egress procedures, electrical components, communication functions, and oxygen systems, as well as the different capabilities on board to respond to patient emergencies during flight.

Members of the 137th AES are certified on the KC-135 Stratotanker, the H and J models of the C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster III, and the C-21 in addition to the KC-46A. Lane noted that in many ways the KC-46A seemed to have been designed with aeromedical evacuation in mind, making it easier for crews to focus on patient care needs.

“Air Mobility Command is preparing for the next fight and Aeromedical Evacuation will be critical to ensuring mission success – familiarizing the Mobility Air Forces with our operations is important across the total force,” he said. “This mission was a great example of MAF total force integration with active-duty members from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, flying the KC-46 aircraft and including three AE crew members of our ANG sister unit from Charlotte, North Carolina, in our initial certification training.”

Over 400 individual training items were accomplished by the AES Airmen in addition to the successful proof of concept for launching local KC-46A training missions from the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base flightline. 

“We are charged to be experts in the aviation medicine environment,” Lane said. “With no aircraft assigned to the wing that we operate under, our aircrew training non-commissioned officer in charge communicates our needs to ANG, Air Force Reserve and active-duty units around the country to set up flights for training. It becomes an immediate win-win for both of us to train together toward a more cohesive wartime response.”

Gen. Mike Minihan, AMC commander, underscored the importance of air mobility’s readiness, integration and agility in projecting and sustaining the U.S. military.

“We must maintain custody of our readiness and get better every day,” said Minihan during an AMC rehearsal of concept meeting held in April 2023. “Aggressively seek situational awareness, aggressively seek integration and aggressively seek mission.”