Tankers Ops—Graduate Level:

USAF gets airmen to instruct in the fine art of tanker employment at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels from one of three weapons squadrons of the Air Mobility Weapons School, Ft. Dix, N.J. According to Lt. Col. Seth Beaubien, commander of the 509th Weapons Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., the 509th KC-135 course is “like earning a PhD in tanker employment.” It takes 5.5 months, including 515 academic hours, 22 sorties, and 80 flying hours. At the conclusion, the graduate tanker pilots earn a weapons officer patch and return to their units, where they train other pilots and assist their commanders in planning tanker use for combat theater requirements. The training is part of Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Horizon—designed to develop young tanker pilots as future USAF leaders. The other two weapons squadrons are the 29th WPS, Little Rock AFB, Ark., which concentrates on advanced C-130 pilot training, and the 57th WPS, McGuire AFB, N.J., the graduate program for C-17 pilots.