Boeing KC Aerial Tankers Come Together for Massive ABMS Exercise in Michigan

Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker 12 photos
Photo: USAF
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Aerial tankers have been crucial over the past few decades for the U.S. Air Force's (USAF) missions in remote parts of the world. Often unseen, they fly high waiting for the combatant aircraft to pull beneath them and refuel to be able to stay in the air a while longer.
The tankers of the Boeing KC family operated by the Air Mobility Command (AMC) are anything but unseen this week, as they have descended upon the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport in Michigan for the Mobility Guardian 21 exercise.

Like most other exercises being conducted these days by the American military, this one too focuses on the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), the array of technologies that should allow different platforms and operators to talk to one another faster and better during missions.

For this particular exercise, the Air Force brought together KC-135 Stratotankers, KC-10 Extenders and the KC-46 Pegasus – in the case of the Pegasus, this is the first time it is incorporated into a flagship AMC exercise.

The Boeing Stratotanker, in service since 1956, is at the core of the American aerial refueling efforts. 396 of them are deployed with the AMC, and each can carry 150,000 pounds (68,039 kg) worth of transfer fuel.

The Boeing KC-10 Extender was introduced in 1981 both as a refueling tanker, and as a transport that can carry the fighter support personnel and equipment on overseas deployments. The plane can move 75 people and 170,000 pounds (76,560 kg) of cargo for as much as 4,400 miles (7,040 km), without needing to fill up its tanks.

The Pegasus is the newest in the fleet, and presently still in process of being tested. It is seen as the “next generation aerial refueling support“ and comes with greater refueling and cargo capabilities than the Stratotanker.

The Mobility Guardian 21 will wrap up at the end of the week.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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