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April 28, 2022

USAF’s KC-46A conducts first refuelling of international aircraft

The aircraft can now support around 85% of receiver aircraft requesting air refuelling.

The US Air Force’s (USAF) KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling aircraft has conducted its first refuelling of an international aircraft, the Spanish Air Force’s EF-18 Hornets or C-15.

The milestone was achieved on 18 April during the Employment Concept Exercise (ECE) 22-03 at Morón Air Base in Spain.

The ECE 22-03 aimed to improve the aircraft’s sustainment and operational fielding along with strengthening the interoperability with allies and partners.

Around 220 active Guard and Reserve airmen along with four KC-46As Pegasus were deployed by the USAF’s Air Mobility Command (AMC) to Moron AB to conduct the exercise.

The deployment follows the KC-46A’s second phase of Interim Capability Release (ICR) on 10 March.

The ICR plan allows the KC-46A to perform operations, which are otherwise undertaken by the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender.

AMC commander-general Mike Minihan said: “The KC-46A, its aircrews, maintenance and support personnel performed magnificently over the last seven weeks in Spain.

“They pushed hard to run the aircraft through its paces during the ECE, including supporting a bomber task force, refuelling US fighters over Eastern Europe, and completing the first-ever refuelling of an international aircraft.”

The KC-46A aircraft has already offloaded more than 78 million pounds of fuel, demonstrating its growing operational capabilities.

Besides, Pegasus has also completed nearly 2,200 drogue and 34,900 boom contacts since January 2019.

AMC KC-46A Cross-Functional Team lead brigadier general Ryan Samuelson said: “The Pegasus is now cleared to support nearly 85% of joint force receivers requesting air refuelling from US Transportation Command.”

The KC-46A aircraft achieved its fourth ICR milestone in December last year.

Currently, the USAF has 57 KC-46As in its inventory, which operate from different air force bases (AFB), including Altus AFB in Oklahoma, McConnell AFB in Kansas, and Seymour Johnson Air Reserve Base in North Carolina, among others.

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