Super Hornet were
supported at all times by a
The best is that the famous
tanker is owned by a civilian American based
company that launched this original concept a few
years ago. This had never been done before.
During the deployment week in
Belgium, the KDC-10-40 (N974W)
Refueling Services (OARS)
and kept on standby
at Melsbroek military airbase.
This was the opportunity to
have a closer look at this
machine and make a little
review of this civil
on demand for the military
The draft tanker “on
demand” was born of the
of two Irish
In the mid-1990's, the brothers recognized an opportunity in
the wake of studies performed by the U.S. Navy a decade earlier exploring a
Land Based Tanker (LBT) concept. The LBT would have provided the USN with a
capability it lacks to this day – “big-wing” organic tanking to support
carrier strike groups. The expense of the project and staunch Air Force
opposition effectively killed the program.
The McEvaddys’ vision did not require any support from the DoD, the U.S. Air
Force, or the government and this was a serious advantage. In the late
1990's, Omega Air, Inc., in conjunction with BAE Systems and TRACOR, at its
own expenses, converted a former Pan American Airlines B-707-300 into a
K-707. Modified from its inception to perform only probe and drogue
refueling, the aircraft employs a unique centerline refueling station
located in the aft fuselage with dual redundant hoses.
The world’s first commercial tanker first flew in 1999. In 2000, the
aircraft commenced U.S. Navy certification testing at NAS Patuxent River and
was certified in 2001 to refuel every type, model, or series of tactical
aircraft in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps inventory.
From 2001 until 2006 the Omega tankers flew under USN contract as a
sub-contractor to Flight International/L-3Com, which had an existing
contract with the Navy flying Learjets. In 2004 Omega Aerial Refueling
Services, Inc. (OARS) was created with corporate offices in Alexandria, VA
to manage most aspects of the program and to enable future growth in this
niche market and in 2007 OARS became the prime contractor on the USN
contract. OARS currently lease the tanker aircraft from Omega Air, while
Seven Q Seven, another subsidiary of OAI, is responsible for maintaining the
aircraft. In 2006, the second Omega K-707 tanker entered service. Originally
a Royal Saudi Air Force diplomatic transport, it was converted under the
same specifications as the original tanker. To this day, K-707s are the
workhorses of Omega, flying the majority of the company missions. In late
2006, Omega began converting a former Japan Air Lines DC-10-40 aircraft to a
KDC-10 configuration including two Flight Refueling Limited wing-mounted
refueling pods. The aircraft was completed in 2007, debuting at the
Farnborough Airshow that summer. Late in 2007, the KDC-10 completed U.S.
Navy certification at NAS Patuxent River, and entering service in the spring
of 2008. Omega refueling aircraft are based for maintenance at Brunswick
In 2007 OARS expanded its operations to include the first allied refueling
flights by supporting the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) F/A-18
Hornets. In 2008, Omega completed its first global deployment by
transporting a squadron of RAAF F/A-18s from RAAF Tindal, Australia, to
Eielson AFB, Alaska for a USAF Red Flag exercise and back again. In May 2008
OARS also supported Royal Air Force aircraft using an Omega K-707 and KDC-10
to refuel Tornado GR-4A from New England to Arizona. Canadian Air Force
CF-18s have also used Omega during the past joint training.
Over the past twelve years the OARS - Omega Air Team has flown over 4.000
missions and 13.000 hours, while offloading 145 million pounds of fuel and
40.000 plugs, while maintaining an exceptional 97% mission completion rate.
Many of the crew members and employees of OARS have an USAF or US Navy
background and the key managers of the company are all former Naval
Omega Aerial Refueling Services, Inc. (OARS) is the only company in the
world conducting commercial fee-for-service in-flight refueling services.
As of August 2012, Omega Air Refueling operates two
KC-707s and one
N974W (c/n: 46974):
This Mc Donnell-Douglas DC-10-40 was built in the late 1970’s. This aircraft
was delivered to Japan Airlines on April 04, 1979 as JA8538. On September
28, 2005, the plane was written out of Japan Airlines fleet and taken over
by Well Fargo Bank Northwest. From than on the plane was registered N974W.
Omega Air became the owner on April 14, 2006. The plane is now configured as
a tanker with a cabin capacity of 174 passengers mixed with a cargo area.
N974W is powered by 3 Pratt & Whitney PW JT9D-59A.