Wicker, Hyde-Smith, Guest Welcome KC-135 Flight Simulator Addition to Key Field

Air Force to Install New Training Tool in Meridian, Fulfilling Long-Sought Priority for Miss. Lawmakers

March 31, 2023

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and U.S. Representative Michael Guest, R-Miss., today welcomed an Air National Guard announcement that new flight simulators for the KC-135 tanker plane will be installed at Key Field Air National Guard Base in Meridian, Miss. The additional training capabilities at Key Field have long been a priority for the Mississippi lawmakers.

“This is a great day for our airmen at Key Field,” Wicker said. “America’s pilot pipeline runs through Mississippi, and our best-in-class assets at Key Field help fuel American air power. I appreciate the Air Force for recognizing the need for additional training opportunities and investing in Meridian.”

“We call on the Air National Guard for a growing number of missions. Basing this new training capacity to Key Field will help train them to fulfill those missions successfully, while expanding the capabilities offered at this Mississippi base,” Hyde-Smith said. “I’m pleased that, working together, the Air Force decided to place these assets here.”

“The 186th Air Refueling Wing is a premier installation of the Air National Guard and has excelled in their mission for more than 50 years. As foreign threats continue to grow, the placement of a KC-135 simulator at Key Field will advance the mission and preparedness of the Air National Guard and our Armed Forces as a whole.  I’m proud to have worked alongside Mississippi’s Senators Wicker and Hyde-Smith to secure this important asset that will help ensure mission readiness for years to come,” Guest said.

The Air Force will use the Operational Flight Trainers for KC-135 tanker aircraft to help pilots acquire and retain skills in handling the primary refueling planes for the Air Force. The new simulators will significantly reduce travel times for pilots in the region.

Key Field was chosen by the Air National Guard because of its readily available facilities and its proximity to Birmingham, Ala., which hosts an Active Association KC-135 unit.