Officials say KC-46A can support almost 70% of receiver aircraft requesting USTRANSCOM air refueling support

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U.S. Air Force Maj. Christopher Rinaman, 22nd Airlift Squadron C-5M Super Galaxy pilot, maneuvers a C-5M toward a KC-46A Pegasus assigned to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, for an aerial refueling, Dec. 14. 2020, over Nevada. The KC-46A is the newest refueling aircraft of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chustine Minoda)


Published Dec. 7, 2021

Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) —  

Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command, approved a fourth Interim Capability Release (ICR) mission set for the KC-46A Pegasus, Dec. 6.

This ICR decision allows the KC-46A to refuel the AC-130J GhostriderHC-130J Combat King IIMC-130J Commando IIC-5M Super Galaxy and E-3G Sentry during U.S. Transportation Command-tasked missions.

“The KC-46A can now support nearly 70% of all receiver aircraft that request air refueling support from USTRANSCOM,” said Lt. Col. Kevin White, AMC’s deputy chief of Aircraft and Logistics Requirements Division and KC-46A Cross Functional Team deputy lead. “In addition, we are putting the Pegasus against our highest priority missions such as direct presidential support.”

The KC-46A ICR plan allows the Pegasus to conduct operational taskings that would otherwise be filled by the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender, increasing the force’s air refueling capacity and further seasoning total force Pegasus aircrews with operational missions.

On July 9, the first ICR decision approved the KC-46A Pegasus to refuel aircraft using its Centerline Drogue System. The second ICR decision, which approved the KC-46A to refuel the B-52H StratofortressC-17 Globemaster III and other KC-46 aircraft using its boom, was made Aug. 5. Approved on Oct. 15, the third decision allowed the KC-46A to refuel all variants of the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon.

There is no timeline associated with the overall ICR plan, which instead focuses on establishing incremental confidence measures that allow the AMC commander and other senior leaders to qualitatively and quantitatively assess achievements at ICR milestones. Crews will continue to fly training, exercise and demonstration missions until all operational confidence measures are met.

Despite existing restrictions and deficiencies, the KC-46A continues to demonstrate its growing operational capabilities. The Pegasus has completed over 6,000 missions, offloading more than 37.8 million pounds of fuel, and making 28,000 boom and 1,900 drogue contacts since January 2019.

On Nov. 9, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey welcomed its first two KC-46As, bringing the total number of KC-46As in the Air Force inventory to 50. The KC-46A currently operates out of McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.; Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina.; Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire; and Altus AFB, Oklahoma.