McConnell will need to fill about 400 Reserve jobs with arrival of KC-46 tanker

The Air Force’s new KC-46 air refueling tanker represents a boon of sorts for the Reserve unit at McConnell Air Force Base, its commander said on Wednesday.

Over the next four years, Col. Eric Vitosh expects the 931st Air Refueling Wing’s ranks to grow by about 400 full- and part-time reservists as Boeing begins to deliver its new Pegasus tankers to the base in southeast Wichita.

That growth would mean a total of around 1,200 airmen for the 931st, Vitosh said.

“With the KC-46 we’re moving from one to three flying squadrons,” he said.

The first KC-46 is expected to be delivered to McConnell in October. The base eventually will have 36 of the planes.

McConnell is home to two air refueling wings, the 931st and the 22nd. The 22nd Air Refueling Wing is the main, or host wing, at McConnell and the one to which 2,882 active duty airmen are assigned.

Vitosh said the growth in military personnel comes almost exclusively for the 931st. Of the new airmen it will be adding, most will be crews who will maintain the new planes, followed by pilots and boom operators.

The bulk of the 400 airmen and women it will add will be traditional, part-time reservists, those who serve one weekend a month plus two weeks active duty a year. But about a third — about 125 — will be full-time reservists, Vitosh said.

He expects most of the additional reservists serving as KC-46 maintainers to come from the Wichita area, while the pilots will come “from all over the place.”

“A vast majority come from active duty,” he said of the pilots, where they’ve served 10 to 12 years before transitioning to the Reserves.

Vitosh said the additional reservists could add $25 million to McConnell’s more than $250 million annual economic impact to the Wichita area.

If you’re interested in joining the Air Force Reserves and serving in one of the 400 positions the 931st Air Refueling Wing will be looking to fill at McConnell Air Force Base, contact Senior Master Sgt. Chris Modlin at 316-759-2582 or chris.modlin@us.af.mil.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark