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22d Air Refueling Wing
22d Air Refueling Wing.png
22d Air Refueling Wing shield
Active since 1948
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Aerial Refueling
Part of Air Mobility Command
Garrison/HQ McConnell Air Force Base
Motto(s) Ducemus - "We Lead"
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Presidential Unit Citation (Philippines).svg PPUC
Colonel Ricky N. Rupp
General Howell M. Estes II
General Hansford T. Johnson
General Jerome F. O'Malley

A KC-135R Stratotanker from the 22d Air Refueling Wing at McConnell AFB, Kansas refuels an F-22A Raptor from Edwards AFB, California

The 22d Air Refueling Wing (22 ARW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Mobility Command's Eighteenth Air Force. It is stationed at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas and also functions as the host wing for McConnell AFB.

Its primary mission is to provide global reach by conducting air refueling and airlift where and when needed. It is one of only three "supertanker" wings in the Air Force, with four Regular Air Force air refueling squadrons, one "Associate" Air Force Reserve Command air refueling squadron, and 63 KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft.

Its origins date to 1940 as the 22d Bombardment Group. The group was one of the first United States Army Air Forces units to be deployed into the Pacific Theater after the Pearl Harbor Attack with the Martin B-26 Marauder medium bomber. The 22d Operations Group carries the lineage and history of its highly decorated World War II predecessor unit. Active for over 60 years, the 22 ARW and its earlier designation as the 22d Bombardment Wing, was a component wing of Strategic Air Command's deterrent force during the Cold War.

The 22d Air Refueling Wing is commanded by Colonel Ricky N. Rupp. Its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth O. Wright.


In addition to its primary mission to provide global reach by conducting air refueling and airlift where and when needed, the 22 ARW is also the Operational Command Unit of the 931st Air Refueling Group, which is administratively assigned to the 507th Air Refueling Wing, Fourth Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command. The 931 ARG is the first Associate air-refueling unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. As an associate unit, the 931st does not have operational control of any KC-135R aircraft. Instead, the host unit at McConnell AFB, the 22 ARW, provides a designated number of aircraft for mission taskings assigned to the 931st. Upon mobilization of the 931 ARG, the 22 ARW and the Air Mobility Command would operationally gain the 931st. The 931 ARG's flying unit, the 18th Air Refueling Squadron (18 ARS) is also designated as a "super squadron" with 32 flight crews. This is twice the number of flight crews as found in a typical USAF air refueling squadron.

Subordinate organizations

22d Operations Group (22 OG)

22d Maintenance Group (22 MXG)

  • 22d Maintenance Squadron (22 MXS)
  • 22d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (22 AMXS)
  • 22d Maintenance Operations Squadron (22 MOS)

22d Mission Support Group (22 MSG)

  • 22d Contracting Squadron (22 CONS)
  • 22d Security Forces Squadron (22 SFS)
  • 22d Services Squadron (22 SVS)
  • 22d Logistics Readiness Squadron (22 LRS)
  • 22d Mission Support Squadron (22 MSS)
  • 22d Communications Squadron (22 CS)
  • 22d Civil Engineering Squadron (22 CES)

22d Medical Group (22 MDG)

  • 22d Medical Operations Squadron (22 MDOS)
  • 22d Aeromedical Dental Squadron (22 AMDS)
  • 22d Medical Support Squadron (22 MDSS)

Additionally, the 22d Comptroller Squadron (22 CPTS) reports directly to the wing staff.


For additional history and lineage, see 22d Operations Group

Established as 22d Bombardment Wing, Medium, on 28 July 1948. Activated on 1 August 1948. The new wing was assigned to March AFB, California on 10 May 1949. It was not operational, so it shared a commander with the 1st Fighter Wing. The 22d Bomb became operational on 1 July 1949. The 1st Fighter Wing was attached to it and both wings shared the same commanding officer.

Korean War

Detached from the wing, the 22d Bombardment Group deployed its B-29s in early July 1950 to Kadena AB, Okinawa, where it came under control of FEAF Bomber Command (Provisional). On 13 July, the group flew its first mission, against the marshalling yards and oil refinery at Wonsan, North Korea. By 21 October, it had amassed fifty-seven missions against the enemy, attacking bridges, factories, industrial targets, troop concentrations, airfields, marshalling yards, communications centers, and port facilities. During four months of combat, the group flew 335 sorties with only fourteen aborts and dropped over 6,500 tons of bombs. It redeployed to the United States in late October and November 1950.

Cold War

Following the return of the Bombardment Group the wing re-equipped the propeller-driven B-29s with new B-47E Stratojet swept-wing bomber medium bombers in 1953, capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and primarily designed for penetrating the airspace of the Soviet Union. Ittrained for proficiency in global strategic bombardment, adding air refueling to its mission in 1952. The wing deployed at RAF Mildenhall, England, September–December 1951, and at RAF Upper Heyford, England, December 1953 – March 1954. From April to July 1957, it deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. SAC began phasing the B-47 out of the inventory beginning in 1962, sending the last of the wing's aircraft to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona in 1963.

The wing was not tactically operational 11 March 1963 – 15 September 1963, while converting to B-52D bombers and KC-135A tankers. The wing supported Fifteenth Air Force's post-attack command and control system with EC-135s from, September 1964 – March 1970.

The 22d was a "super" wing from 1966–1971, with two bombardment and two tanker squadrons. From 10 March to c. 1 October 1967 the wing was reduced to a small "rear-echelon" non-tactical organization with all tactical resources and most support resources loaned to SAC organizations involved in combat operations in Southeast Asia. The wing continued to support SAC operations in the Far East and Southeast Asia through 1975, and from 10 April 1972 to 29 October 1973 again the wing had all its bomber resources loaned to other organizations for combat and contingency operations. The wing's KC-135 resources were also on loan from 10 April to September 1972; afterwards, a few tankers returned to wing control.

The wing maintained a strategic bombardment alert posture from, 1973–1982, but in 1978 it added conventional warfare missions, including mine-laying and sea reconnaissance/surveillance.

In 1982, the wing retired its B-52D aircraft and converted from a bombardment wing to an air refueling wing. It was the first USAF unit to operate the new KC-10A along with KC-135E and KC-135Q aircraft. From 1982, the wing provided strategic air refueling and airlift in support of worldwide U.S. Air Force and other Department of Defense operations and training exercises. In 1983, the wing moved personnel and cargo in support of Chadian resistance to Libyan incursions and conducted airlift and refueling missions during rescue of U.S. nationals in Grenada. The wing also provided specialized refueling support to SR-71 aircraft reconnaissance operations with KC-135Q aircraft worldwide from, c. 1985–1990.

In 1989, the 22 ARW transferred its KC-135E and KC-135Q aircraft and became solely a KC-10 unit.

Modern era

The 22 ARW supported F-117 deployments to Saudi Arabia and contributed aircraft and personnel to logistics efforts in support of the liberation of Kuwait from, 1990–1991.

On 1 June 1992, Strategic Air Command was inactivated and the 22d ARW was assigned to the newly established Air Mobility Command (AMC). From the end of 1992 to 1994, the wing flew humanitarian airlift missions to Somalia and it also provided air refueling in support of deployments to Haiti in 1994.

On 1 January 1994, the wing was reassigned w/p/o/e from March AFB (upon the transfer of March AFB to the Air Force Reserve Command) to McConnell AFB, Kansas, replacing the inactivating 384th Bomb Wing and assuming control of the 384th's KC-135R aircraft. The 22 ARW's former KC-10A aircraft assets were subsequently transferred to the 60th Airlift Wing at Travis AFB, California, that unit being redesignated as the 60th Air Mobility Wing (60 AMW).

Various air refueling squadrons were reassigned to the reconstituted 22 ARW from other units as follows:

After the realignment, the 22 ARW deployed crews and aircraft to support no-fly missions over northern and southern Iraq and over Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1999, wing aircraft and crews deployed to the Mediterranean to refuel NATO aircraft over Serbia. After the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, wing-supplied tanker crews and aircraft air-refueled combat aircraft on missions to the Afghanistan area.

The wing provided deployed KC-135R support during Operation Iraqi Freedom and continues to provide aerial refueling and air mobility support under Operation Noble Eagle in the United States, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn overseas, and other AMC, USTRANSCOM, other combatant command, and associated national taskings as required.


  • Established as 22d Bombardment Wing, Medium, on 28 July 1948
Activated on 1 August 1948
Redesignated: 22d Bombardment Wing, Heavy, on 15 March 1963
Redesignated: 22d Air Refueling Wing, Heavy, on 1 October 1982
Redesignated: 22d Air Refueling Wing on 1 September 1991


Attached to: 301st Bombardment Wing, 1 August 1948 – 9 May 1949
Attached to: 1st Fighter Wing, 10 May-30 June 1949
Attached to: 7th Air Division, 5 September-4 December 1951 and 7 December 1953 – 5 March 1954
Attached to: 3d Air Division, 1 April-5 July 1957






Aircraft operated

References for commands and major units assigned, components and stations:[1][2][3]


See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website


  1. Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9
  2. Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  3. Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

External links

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