The US Air Mobility Command (AMC) has approved a seventh interim capability release (ICR) mission set for the KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling aircraft.
This approval has increased the operational capability of the KC-46A aircraft.
Approved by the AMC commander general Mike Minihan, the KC-46A can now support 97% of the daily joint force air refuelling requirements.
The first ICR for the aircraft was approved by the AMC in July 2021.
Following the latest AMC approval, KC-46A will be able to refuel a wide range of aircraft for the US Transportation Command-tasked missions (USTRANSCOM).
The aircraft include C-135 variants, B-1B Lancer, E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, F-35B/C Lightning II, KC-10 Extender P-8 Poseidon and EC-130H Compass Call aircraft.
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Minihan said: “Credible and reliable KC-46A tanker capability is now available to our joint and international partners.
“In May 2021, the KC-46A was not cleared to operationally support any USTRANSCOM missions.
“With a team of incredible professionals across the enterprise analysing the data and making risk-informed decisions, we’ve deliberately and aggressively accelerated the Pegasus’ operational use.”
The second ICR milestone was approved in August 2021. This was the first ICR decision for the aerial refueling boom mission set.
The third ICR was approved in October 2021. KC-46A could then support 62% of all receiver aircraft that needed air refuelling support from USTRANSCOM.
The fourth ICR was signed in December 2021, thereby boosting the capability of KC-46A to 70%.
Earlier this year, the operational and test data showed that KC-46A was capable of supporting almost 85% of USTRANSCOM air refueling tasks.
The fifth approval was given in February, which in turn allowed refuelling with the F-35A Lightning II and F-22 Raptor as well as support a range of alert missions.
With the sixth approval, the aircraft could be used to undertake both passenger movement and aeromedical evacuation missions.