The US Air Mobility Command (AMC) has approved the KC-46A Pegasus tanker’s Centerline Drogue System mission set as the first Interim Capability Release (ICR).
The ICR was approved by AMC commander general Jacqueline Van Ovost and is intended to increase KC-46A’s operational use to meet joint force air refuelling requirements.
AMC noted that the latest decision provides more daily ‘taskable’ operational capabilities to the joint team. It also enables to increase capacity for tanker fleet requirements.
The KC-46A has now operationally proven probe and drogue air refuelling capabilities.
Van Ovost said: “The last six months of operational use and programmatic evaluation indicate conditions have been met for ICR declaration of the Centerline Drogue System mission set.
“This decision reflects a risk-informed, data-driven, constraint-analysed approach to releasing KC-46A operational capabilities to the joint force.”
In February, the ICR plan was announced by Van Ovost to incrementally certify KC-46A’s air refuelling capabilities.
Currently, the US Air Force (USAF) is performing boom air refuelling with fighter, bomber and transport aircraft for a range of operations prior to declaring operational use of the capability.
The service is also working on efforts towards tanker recapitalisation and divestiture.
According to AMC, the KC-46A programme is continuing to progress towards achieving full operational capability (FOC).
Meanwhile, the tanker fleet’s Category-I deficiencies are not yet fixed.
The deficiencies include the upgraded remote vision system 2.0 and a redesign of the boom telescope actuator.
The FOC, which will be achieved in the next several years, is subject to clearance of these deficiencies.
Van Ovost added: “We are flying and operating today with the KC-46A mission sets despite restrictions, including cross-ocean aerial refuelling fighter movements, Aeromedical Evacuation missions, and cargo and passenger movements. The KC-46 is on a positive rate of climb.”