US Air Force KC-46 Pegasus completes maiden global circumnavigation

20 December 2019 (Last Updated December 20th, 2019 13:42)

The US Air Force’s (USAF) KC-46 Pegasus aerial refuelling and transport aircraft has completed the first flight around the world last month in a seven-leg trip.

US Air Force KC-46 Pegasus completes maiden global circumnavigation
A 22nd Air Refueling Wing KC-46A refuels a C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Lewis McChord’s 62nd Airlift Wing over the Arabian Gulf. Credit: USAF / Staff Sgt Daniel Snider.

The US Air Force’s (USAF) KC-46 Pegasus aerial refuelling and transport aircraft has completed the first flight around the world last month in a seven-leg trip.

A KC-46A aircraft from the USAF’s 22nd Air Refueling Wing conducted the flight between 13 and 26 November.

The 13-day trip marked the first global circumnavigation for the KC-46A Pegasus. As part of the journey, the tanker visited the Dubai Air Show for the first time.

The flight allowed aircrew and maintainers to train at multiple locations.

The first stop was at Royal Airfield Mildenhall, UK, which was followed by the USAF displaying the KC-46 as a static display at this year’s airshow in Dubai.

USAF 22nd Operations Group commander colonel Thad Middleton said: “Our operators and maintainers had the privilege of circumnavigating the globe in the airforce’s newest and most capable air refuelling platform.

“We have worked with our partners at the Tanker Airlift Control Center on previous overseas missions, but our movement across the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and the South Pacific allowed us to truly flex the system.

“It goes without saying, but the crew members gained invaluable training in terms of oceanic procedures, unfamiliar airfield operations and dynamic mission planning.”

Following the airshow, the aircraft flew to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to demonstrate its capabilities to Qatari military personnel.

The stop included a refuelling mission with a C-17 aircraft and helped improve interoperability with Qatar.

The Boeing aircraft is undergoing initial operational testing and evaluation to test its capabilities and effectiveness even as the airforce flagged concerns with certain issues identified during the inspection, including a problem with the cargo locks. The USAF approved a fix for the locks last month.