US Air Mobility Command’s (AMC) commander general Mike Minihan has approved worldwide deployment capability for the KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling aircraft.
With this capability, the aircraft can now conduct various combatant command operations.
Minihan said: “We are ready to use this aircraft globally in any fight, without hesitation.
“We have rapidly operationalised this aircraft to support the joint force.”
This new KC-46A capability has been cleared after the completion of an employment concept exercise (ECE), conducted in the US Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations.
As part of the ECE, the KC-46A refuelled two F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets, assigned under the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.
This was the first operationally tasked mission carried out by the KC-46A in a combat environment.
This also marked the first time the KC-46A Pegasus aircraft used the military data network, which is the aircraft’s onboard communications system, in a combat scenario.
The system allows KC-46A to provide a secure interface between on-ground Air Operations Center and aircraft operating in its proximity, to further boost battlespace situational awareness.
At the end of ECE, KC-46A successfully offloaded 1.46Mlb of fuel to 66 aircraft in 206 flight hours.
AMC KC-46A Cross-Functional Team lead brigadier general Ryan Samuelson said: “The KC-46 now officially joins the rest of the Air Force’s refuelling fleet in meeting combatant command requirements around the world.”
Furthermore, the latest declaration marks the culmination of a 15-month-long final interim capability release (ICR) process, conducted to ensure KC-46A’s ability to refuel all the applicable aircraft to fulfil combatant commanders’ requirements.