What could possibly go wrong?

| July 19, 2022

The KC-46 Pegasus (pictured) is the USAF’s next generation air-to-air tanker. It’s set to replace the KC-10 Extender and, more importantly, the service’s large fleet of 1950’s-vintage KC-135s. The program has been, as most major defense acquisition projects of late, over budget, underperforming, and overdue. You’ll recall this was the aircraft that had many early teething problems around its 3d digital screen for the boom operator to see the refueling aircraft. All previous tankers just put a window for the boomer to use. More recently, the brand new airframes have had a problem with fuel leaking. The aircraft started production almost 10 years ago, entered service three years ago, but is still restricted from actually performing its mission in a contingency environment.

Now the USAF is mulling the idea of removing one of the pilots. This would leave the plane with a minimum crew of one pilot and one boom operator.

From Air Force Times;

Officials in the Air Force’s mobility enterprise are considering amending rules to allow just two crew members onboard the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tankers during dangerous missions, raising eyebrows among airmen.

Air Mobility Command is discussing the option as part of how it may handle war in the Indo-Pacific, where it believes large, slow jets including tankers would be more vulnerable to attack from Chinese anti-aircraft missiles. Shrinking the number of airmen onboard a tanker could help minimize potential troop casualties while still getting combat jets the fuel they need.

A typical tanker sortie involves a pilot, a co-pilot and a boom operator. A loadmaster may join them for cargo missions, or nurses and medical technicians for aeromedical evacuations.

The Air Force said the notion of a slimmed-down crew, with one pilot and one refueling boom operator, isn’t set in stone. Nor would it necessarily become standard procedure.

“The command is currently reassessing minimum flight crew requirements as we explore and validate new tactics, techniques and procedures oriented towards a dynamic, future fight,” AMC spokesperson Maj. Hope Cronin told Air Force Times July 15.

Cronin said the command would need to approve a waiver so airmen can try out the skeleton crew concept in exercises like Mobility Guardian, the Air Force’s premier event for practicing military transportation missions.

AMC staff are assessing whether a pair of airmen could safely handle a KC-46 on their own before they sign off on that waiver. They also have to make sure the command has the authority to make that change.

Not everyone is a fan of the suggestion.

On July 15, a Facebook page that is popular with airmen posted an anonymous allegation that AMC had hatched the idea because of a pilot shortage at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.

“This is going to put KC-46 aircrew in potentially dangerous situations and must … be stopped,” it said.

Cronin denied that the idea is connected to pilot retention.

More at the source.

Category: Air Force, Dumbass Bullshit

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Getting rid of one half of the pilot team?
Most brilliant idea I’ve ever heard! /hudge s

If you look at the pilot shortage in the civilian sector and the testimony of the Army’s flight med chief, all of this has one common cause. A mandatory requirement with its partially beneficial cum negative effects and higher likelihood of infection.

Do whatever you want AF. When good people are needlessly thrown into the meat grinder and you wonder why no one supports you, reflect on this:

I ___, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.


Reducing pilot slots on the plane to one to reduce casualties? I wonder which staff weenie got a top block for that idea?

They could just make it an all volunteer slot and that should reduce casualties to zero.


“staff weenie”? What if they ain’t got no weenies?

Hack Stone

Just put solar panels on the aircraft, and they won’t need mid-air refueling. Geez, does Hack have to do all of the thinking around here?


No pilot either.


Not sure about the thrust to weight ratio of supersonic fighter craft and flying fuel air bombs refueling tankers though.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

I’m guessing that this …..decision….is the result of too few remaining pilots to crew the planes because you forced most of the available pilots out because they wouldn’t voluntarily take “The Jab”.

How many would that be?

Hint – This is NOT a problem in the US Marines nor Navy,
from 1st hand accounts in both Fall 2021 and Spring 2022.

I’ll disagree with your guess,
which may be based on assorted
FAKE NEWS from September 2021.



The USAF should rename that thing the Albatross.

The T-44 Pegasus
is a dual prop dual pilot trainer aircraft
used by the Navy (and Marines)
for the 1st multi-engine flying experience.

Marine son received his pilot wings
after qualifying on the T-44 Pegasus,
followed by heading off PCS to his career aircraft training.

MarineDad61 attended the winging ceremony
at NAS Corpus Christi,
toured a T-44 interior,
and flew (crashed) a T-44 simulator.

Winging week Parents’ Day is a very good day,
a memorable day,
for Navy and Marine Moms and Dads.

Last edited 1 year ago by MarineDad61

Dumbest thing I’ve heard in likely ever. Boom operator has a medical emergency? Turn around and go home. Your ONE pilot? That’s a big ass plane with a lot of fuel to pancake. And thereby sacrificing the Boom op to save the other pilot.


There is already only one boom. Been that way since the KC-97 brown shoe days under Gen Lemay


Someone’s been listening to the good idea fairy again.

Green Thumb

Now, hold up a sec. We need to keep this in perspective.

The most important thing here is to make sure the one pilot is addressed by their correct pronouns.


Waiting for mandatory wear of the maternal flight suits and red high heels, you know, ‘for the greater good’.

George V

I wonder if anyone has thought about a KC-46 taking some combat damage, but still being flyable if the flight crew, by working together, can keep the beast in the air. In situations like that there’s more than enough work to keep two pilots busy. Flailing a$$holes and elbows generally describes the activity needed.

No progressive plans for the worst case, including those in the military. They always expect things to come out perfectly.


And the destruction of our ability to fight our enemies continues. Almost as if it is planned.



Gee, what could go wrong with that?

Last edited 1 year ago by Anonymous

I suppose they could always go with the “Otto Pilot” system in case the one pilot becomes incapacitated.  😉 

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Amazing that these things are thought up by people sitting behind a desk. I just love it and this shit can’t get any better. I swore off using the above this shit can’t get any better but really, this shit can’t get any better.


GOD is my copilot.


Maybe. But God won’t be manipulating the controls when you are in the cockpit by yourself and you are incapacitated.


Very very stupid idea. The workload on a pilot when something goes wrong is very difficult to manage alone in any aircraft, but especially so in this very complex aircraft. There is a very good reason there are two pilots in every commercial airliner. But maybe the Air Force good idea fairies are thinking that Seri can read off the checklists to the pilot instead of having the copilot do it.


This is dumber than a box of rocks. I spent some time supporting the KC-46 program and to fully utilize the capabilities of the platform, more not less personnel are needed

Hack Stone

If they have do indeed have a shortage of qualified, open the field up to all of those patriotic transgender Americans that we have been told are eager to serve. And, God forbid (are we still allowed to mention God, or will that trigger someone?) the aircraft takes a missile hit, the crew will already be flaming.

The Stranger

Or how about this…ease up on the requirement to have 20/20 vision if you’re going to fly transports or fuelers if otherwise physically qualified?


“amending rules to allow just two crew members onboard the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tankers during dangerous missions,”

Have they given any thought to reducing the number of crew members on AWACS aircraft, which will definitely be a primo target?


Actually they are eliminating the AWACS and Joint-STARS aircraft.

The Air Force is a lot simpler if you get rid of all those airplanes and crews

jeff LPH 3 63-66

Would be a lot simpler if you got rid of the shitbird desk jockey’s that think of these ideas


Pretty big-ass plane to make vulnerable to one bullet in the right place. “And if you see a refueling tanker, just aim at the cockpit, Ivan/Achmed/Chang”



Incredibly stupid. And dangerous.


Saved round —

Air Mobility Command: great idea to go around blabbing about the vulnerabilities of your strategic tankers in the open source media.



Pilot shortage in the AF? Hmmm,,,,,, Warrant Officers.