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News | July 22, 2022

9th ARS partners with AE for atypical mission

By Senior Airman Alexander Merchak

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Airmen from the 9th Air Refueling Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California, provided emergency aeromedical evacuation of a patient, May 23, 2022, from Osan Air Base, Korea, to Kelly Field, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.  

The 9th ARS was asked to support the mission while attending the 2022 Japanese-American Friendship Festival at Yokota AB, Japan, where the 9th ARS showcased the KC-10 Extender’s capabilities to public attendees.

The aircrew partnered with 18 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan to transport a patient in a late-term, high-risk pregnancy – potentially saving both lives.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Rajeev Kristipati, 9th ARS KC-10 aircraft commander, received notice that they would be flying to Osan AB on the first day of the festival.

“We were initially surprised to be re-tasked with an AE mission,” said Kristipati. “The KC-10 almost never performs these sorts of missions.”

According to Kristipati, readiness was crucial to this mission as no one expected this tasking.

The squadron’s primary function is to ensure rapid global mobility through aerial refueling and is reconfigured to support transportation of service members, cargo, and in this case, aeromedical evacuation.

“We know the aircraft is capable of AE. We reached out to all the more experienced individuals in the community and heard of no one who had actually done this before,” said Kristipati.

In this situation, the aircrew was told they would be writing the manual on KC-10 AE missions says Kristipati.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Paul Santos, 9th ARS evaluator boom operator, was in the middle of displaying the KC-10 when he got word his team would be flying the mission.

“When the call came in of the re-tasking, I was skeptical,” said Santos. “We are not typically used in that capacity.”

“The jet was not initially set up for the AE so my team and I had to manually transform [the aircraft] to a configuration that we have never flown before,” Santos continued.  

The configuration was named “S” after Santos for his part in the creation of the configuration, which took five hours to implement and complete prior to departure for Osan Air Base.

As Airmen, readiness is key to mission success, and being adaptable for last-minute notice emergencies can be lifesaving, Kristipati explained.

Amongst all the chaos of the emergency tasking, the aircrew was able to relocate and aid the patient to Kelly Field.

The readiness displayed in this mission and efforts in others won the aircrew, "9th ARS Aircrew of the Quarter."

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