KC-46A Pegasus participates in Exercise Ultimate Caduceus

  • Published
  • By Abigail Cole
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

A McConnell Air Force Base KC-46A Pegasus joined more than 370 military and civilian personnel for Ultimate Caduceus 2022, Feb. 28-March 5 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

Exercise Ultimate Caduceus is a U.S. Transportation Command-led annual patient movement field training exercise designed to assess the capabilities of and provide field training to aeromedical evacuation teams, critical care air transport teams, medical staging functions and reception and onward movement functions for global patient movement.

“This is the first time KC-46 was exercised supporting CONUS patient distribution, which tests capabilities in the continental U.S. to distribute patients coming from a large scale contingency,” said Lt. Col. Reynel Garcia, Air Mobility Command’s Aeromedical Evacuations Operations and Training Branch Chief.  “The KC-46 simulated patients coming from overseas and moving them to long-term and advanced care centers in the U.S.”

Aeromedical evacuation plays a significant role in the nation’s global capabilities as it provides time-sensitive and mission-critical patient care during transport to their home installations for follow-on care.

“The KC-46 was incorporated into UC22 to validate the ability to move critical patients, familiarize ground personnel, and evacuate large patient loads,” said Garcia. “Additionally, the AE enterprise is moving toward incorporating the KC-46 into Aeromedical Evacuations universal airframe qualifications.”

The KC-46 accommodates three times more cargo pallets and can hold about 30 percent more aeromedical evacuation patients than the KC-135 Stratotanker. The aircraft also brings increased comfort for patients due to the lighting, climate control, and noise level. These comforts allow for better communication with patients and the ability to quickly address patient needs.

“Ultimate Caduceus gives our military medical personnel an excellent opportunity to practice their operational skillsets and joint interoperability in a contingency environment,” said Maj. Noah Wood, Air Mobility Command Surgeon General’s lead exercise planner. 

This year’s Ultimate Caduceus participants include U.S. Air Force Aeromedical crews and Critical Care Air Transport Teams, En Route Patient Staging Systems, a Federal Coordinating Center, and interagency partners.

“This exercise has given us the opportunity to work with the Federal Coordinating Center here at Joint Base San Antonio,” said Wood. “The FCC here has a robust relationship with their local community, which gives us a better understanding of how they operate and what we can expect if the support is ever needed.”

USTRANSCOM is the combatant command charged with moving Department of Defense’s ill and injured patients to appropriate levels of medical care. UC22 will validate the readiness of the command’s patient movement enterprise to scale up forces and deploy sufficient medical assets to provide care in a contested environment.

“This exercise allows our Airmen to experience operating in an environment outside their day to day roles,” said Wood. “It helps prepare our medics to do what they do best; save lives whether it is in the air or on the ground.”