Airmen from the US Air Force’s (USAF) 22nd Air Refuelling Wing (ARW) have successfully completed a 24.2-hour flight on a KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling aircraft.
The US Air Mobility Command’s (AMC) newest aircraft KC-46A completed the flight hours on 5 and 6 May, to and from the McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) in Kansas, US.
The sortie marks the longest duration flight in the AMC’s history.
The milestone comes after weeks of work by the planning teams, which comprised personnel from 22nd ARW, AMC and Boeing. The teams monitored the mental and physical wellbeing of the aircrew.
The 24-hour flight involved two teams of pilots performing a four-hour rotational shift while the aircrew included six pilots, three boom operators, a physician and a photojournalist.
In addition, a backup team of pilots was also deployed for emergency situations.
During the flight, the KC-46A Pegasus conducted dry contacts with a KC-46 aircraft, refuelled four US Marine Corps’ (USMC) F-35 jets and was refuelled by another KC-46.
22nd ARW commander colonel Nate Vogel said: “This sortie helps mobility forces identify how best to operate on long-duration sorties from human, to machine, to mission aspects.
“Long-duration flights are inherently full of risk, and conducting this operation now allows us to identify those risks, and then build and apply mitigations in a more controlled environment.”
“The Joint Force, our allies, and our partners rely on our capability to project combat power globally. We need to be ready to execute anytime, anywhere.”
All the data collected during the long-duration flight will be used to determine the limitations, feasibility, potential risks and benefits of the KC-46 aircraft.