The 141st Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) – a component of the New Jersey Air National Guard’s (ANG’s) 108th Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst – bid farewell to its last KC-135R Stratotanker on September 20.
The aircraft (60-0366) was the first KC-135R to be delivered to the 141st ARS in October 2007 and was the latest 108th Wing airframe to be painted in high visibility, full colour tiger markings. These commemorate Capt Hobart Amory Hare ‘Hobey’ Baker, a former World War One SPAD fighter pilot and commander of the 141st Aero Squadron, who had played hockey and football for the Princeton Tigers before joining the US Army Air Corps. After departing Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, the KC-135R was delivered to the 101st Air Refueling Wing (ARW) at Bangor Air National Guard Base in Maine for further service.
On October 3, the 141st ARS officially completed its first local KC-46A Pegasus sortie. While the squadron will not receive its own KC-46As, it will instead be operated as a classic associate unit alongside the active-duty 2nd ARS, which is also based at the New Jersey base. There have been suggestions that the 108th Wing will stand up a new tanker unit: the 170th ARS.
The withdrawal of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst’s last KC-135R comes shortly after the base bade farewell to its final KC-10A Extender tankers. The base’s last KC-10A flew its final training sortie on May 11, 2023, and was subsequently flown to Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona to be placed into long-term storage with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) on June 22.
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst now has 18 KC-46As on strength of the 24 planned. These are operated alongside C-17A Globemaster IIIs of the 305th and 514th Air Mobility Wings (AMWs) and a C-32B Gatekeeper of the 108th Wing’s 150th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) ‘Guardians of the Gate’. The latter is used to provide clandestine airlift support for US government-sanctioned special forces operations and global emergency response efforts.