The KC-46A Pegasus reached its fourth Interim Capability Release (ICR) following approval from Gen Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command on December 6, marking the latest milestone in the US Air Force's ongoing tanker programme.
This ICR allows the KC-46A to refuel another batch of receiving aircraft including, the AC-130J Ghostrider, HC-130J Combat King II, MC-130J Commando II, C-5M Super Galaxy and E-3G Sentry.
Lt Col Kevin White, AMC’s Deputy Chief of Aircraft and Logistics Requirements Division and KC-46A Cross Functional Team Deputy Lead said: “The KC-46A can now support nearly 70% of all receiver aircraft that request air refuelling support from USTRANSCOM. In addition, we are putting the Pegasus against our highest priority missions such as direct Presidential support.”
This fourth approval for the KC-46 comes after the USAF’s new tanker being approved to refuel aircraft using its Centerline Drogue System on July 9. The following month on August 5, the second ICR was gained and approved the KC-46 to refuel B-52, C-17 and other KC-46 aircraft using its boom. The third ICR came on October 15 which allowed the KC-46 to refuel all variants of the F-15 and F-16.
Back in November, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, received its first two KC-46As, bringing the total number of KC-46As in the US Air Force to 50.
The KC-46A currently operates out of McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina,Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire and Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
So far, despite highly reported restrictions to the programme, the KC-46A still shows signs of developing capabilities. The tanker has completed over 6,000 missions, offloading over 37,800,000Ib of fuel, and making 28,000 boom and 1,900 drogue contacts since January 2019.