USAF Approves KC-46A Pegasus to Supply Wider Range of Aircraft

The US Air Force Air Mobility Command has approved the operation of the KC-46A Pegasus to refuel AC-130J Ghostrider, HC-130J Combat King II, MC-130J Commando II, C-5M Super Galaxy and E-3G Sentry .

Following this qualification, the KC-46 can now refuel nearly 70% of receiving aircraft requiring in-flight refueling. Work is also underway to certify the Pegasus for refueling. Air Force One.

C-5M Super Galaxy during refueling trials with the KC-46A Pegasus. Foto: US Air Force photo by Chustine Minoda

The KC-46 program gradually acquires new capabilities within the USAF structure as it is tested and certified through the Interim Capability Release (ICR) mechanism.

As stated in the Air Mobility Command (AMC) press release, the KC-46A ICR plan allows the Pegasus to perform operational tasks that would otherwise be covered by the KC-135 Stratotanker and the KC-10 Extender, increasing thus the Air Force’s in-flight refueling capability. and improving the training of Pegasus crews with operational missions.

On July 9, 2021, the ICR’s first decision approved the KC-46A Pegasus for refueling aircraft using its center probe system. The ICR’s second decision, on August 5, 2021, approved the KC-46A to refuel B-52, C-17 and other KC-46 aircraft using its boom system. On October 15, 2021, the ICR’s third decision allowed the KC-46A to refuel all variants of the F-15 and F-16.

Tests for the first ICR validation of the central sensor and the braking system. Photo: USAF

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

Despite existing constraints and shortcomings, the KC-46A continues to gain operational capabilities. The Pegasus has flown over 6,000 missions, unloaded over 37.8 million pounds of fuel, and made 28,000 arrow hits and 1,900 drug hits since January 2019.

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