Story by A1C Alan Ricker on 04/08/2019Representatives from McConnell, MacDill and Fairchild Air Force Bases attended a KC-135 Stratotanker Weapons System Council here April 1-3, 2019.
Fairchild brought 15 experts and MacDill's wing commander, Col. Stephen Snelson, was able to participate through video conference. The council prepares the refueling community for the current and future employment of the KC-135.
"The KC-135 is the backbone of airpower and rapid global mobility," said Col. Derek Salmi, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "We want to make sure that we are using the capabilities that [the KC-135] provides in the most effective and efficient ways."
The team discussed achieving full-spectrum readiness, focusing on squadron vitality and planning for the future of the KC-135 community.
"We're looking at what's best for Airmen and families and the future of the KC-135 and asking how can we best set ourselves up for success 10 to 20 years from now," said Col. Josh Olson, 22nd ARW commander.
The council also gives members of the KC-135 community an opportunity to create new, and re-establish old connections.
"By coming together as a team, we have built relationships," said Salmi. "We can have candid discussions and really get after some of the [concerns] in innovative ways."
Salmi said that Fairchild brought 15 of their experts to have face-to- face interactions with McConnell's and MacDill's experts in order to collaborate ideas and discuss topics that would prove difficult to discuss over virtual conferences. Topics included the future use of the KC-135.
"McConnell has a robust refueling mission," said Olson. "The addition of the KC-46 doesn't change the fact that we're delivering 36 million pounds of fuel each year to combatant commanders, regardless of the platform."
The KC-135 continues to play a critical role as an air refueling platform.
"Our goal for the KC-135 is to keep them flying and utilize them in the most effective way possible, so they can provide air refueling while the KC-46 comes online," said Salmi. "It's great to see that McConnell is on the cutting edge of the tanker community by being the beddown for the KC-46 while also [operating and] maintaining the KC-135."