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May 21, 2021

B-1B Lancer bomber conducts aerial refuelling mission with KC-46A

The USAF’s B-1B Lancer bomber has successfully conducted a refuelling mission with KC-46A Pegasus.

A US Air Force’s 37th Bomb Squadron (BS) B-1B Lancer has performed a refuelling mission with a KC-46A Pegasus strategic military tanker and transport aircraft.

The Boeing-manufactured KC-46A that took part in the mission was from the 344th Air Refueling Squadron at McConnell AFB in Kansas.

The crew performed inflight refuelling and executed a full tactical training scenario in the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC).

The PRTC allows realistic training scenarios planning by aircrews that are directly applicable to current operations and future conflicts.

According to Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), the KC-46A Pegasus refuelled the long-range strategic bomber in a training area near Rapid City in South Dakota, US.

The mission provided an opportunity to the crews of both aircraft to hone their skills.

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37th BS B-1 instructor pilot said: “The systems on the KC-46 helped smooth out the airflow as we approached … which helps [us] to get established in the contact position.

“Refuelling with the KC-46 was very similar to my other experiences I’ve had with KC-135s, and KC-10s, but in general seemed very stable and was an easy platform to refuel from.”

The KC-46A is the first phase in recapitalising the USAF’s ageing tanker fleet.

Upon reaching full operational capability, the KC-46A can refuel most fixed-wing, receiver-capable aircraft.

The KC-46A is fitted with a refuelling boom that is driven by a ‘fly-by-wire control system’, and ‘is capable of fuel offload rates required for large aircraft’.

AFGSC said that the hose and drogue system of KC-46A add additional mission capability of being independently operable from the refuelling boom system.

McConnell 22nd Operations Support Squadron flight commander captain Steven Strickland said: “The positive impact for IOT&E [Initial Operational Test and Evaluation], and for the enterprise as whole, will continue to push the KC-46 further as we enter our limited operational capability in AMC [Air Mobility Command].”

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