The US Air Force’s (USAF) KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling aircraft has achieved an Interim Capability Release (ICR) decision milestone.
With this approval, the tanker will be able to refuel all the variants of the USAF’s fourth-generation fighter jets, F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The aerial refuelling aircraft and crews can now accept operational taskings during missions for US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM).
The ICR was approved by Air Mobility Command (AMC) commander general Mike Minihan on 13 October. It is the third ICR mission that set a milestone for the Pegasus.
In July this year, AMC approved the Centerline Drogue System’s operational use as the first KC-46 ICR.
The second ICR mission set for Pegasus was approved on 5 August, which was also the first ICR decision related to the air refuelling boom mission set.
AMC Strategy, Plans, Requirements and Programs Deputy Director and KC-46 Cross Functional Team Lead Brigadier general Ryan Samuelson said: “The KC-46 can now support 62% of all receiver aircraft that request air refuelling support from USTRANSCOM.
“This step forward accelerates the critical projection and connection warfighting requirements the Pegasus brings to the joint force, even before it’s fully operational.”
The latest ICR enables the Pegasus aircraft and its staff to accept operational taskings that are usually performed by the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender.
AMC noted that the USAF would continue to roll out additional expansions of the Pegasus’ capabilities.
So far, the Pegasus has completed more than 6,000 missions, offloading some 35 million pounds of fuel. The aircraft made 26,000 boom and 1,500 drogue contacts since 2019.
The KC-46A programme is continuing to progress towards achieving full operational capability.
KC-46A aerial refuelling aircraft, based on the KC-767 refuelling aircraft, is manufactured by Boeing under a contract with the USAF.