Air Mobility Command officials say the current patient loading system—a specially designed ramp—used to load patients on high-deck aircraft like the KC-135 is suffering from overuse and parts shortages. The service started using KC-135 tankers, in addition to C-17 and C-130 airlifters, for medical evacuation flights when it retired the dedicated medevac platform, the C-9. The airlifters have ramps, so they don’t need the PLS. AMC plans to replace the PLS with new High Deck Patient Loading Platform vehicles. The HDPLPs will not expose medics and patients to the elements or the traverse of a very long and high ramp. Instead, the vehicle will rise from ground level to the aircraft’s deck level.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.