The U.S. Air Force has announced that its high-tech KC-46A refueling tanker reached the 5000 sortie milestone.
According to a press release issued Thursday by Air Mobility Command Public Affairs, Airmen from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, completed the celebratory 5,000 KC-46A Pegasus sortie June 30, 2021.
To date, the Pegasus has off-loaded more than 21.8 million pounds of gas across more than 19,700 positive contacts since the delivery of the Air Force’s first KC-46 to McConnell AFB on Jan. 25, 2019.
“KC-46 aircrew and maintainers have been getting after it – they’re testing, evaluating and becoming experts on the platform,” said Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, Air Mobility Command commander. “Every single sortie along the way is a stepping stone on the right path toward a fully-operational KC-46.”
Crews have flown over 5,000 sorties, with more than 2,500 missions executed during the 2021 calendar year. Nearly 1,000 of those missions supported testing and joint force operational taskings around the world.
“With the increasing daily capacity to meet Joint and service air refueling demands, the KC-46 is rapidly employing capabilities, especially in boom and drogue air refueling,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan Samuelson, AMC Deputy Director of Strategic Plans, Requirements and Programs and KC-46 Cross Functional Team Lead.
The thousands of sorties are integral to informing the conditions-based, limited operational use of the KC-46 announced by AMC in February 2021. The approach incrementally certifies mission sets in order to expand tanker capacity in support of joint force operational taskings.
This approach, once implemented, will enable the aircraft and crews to accept operational taskings from U.S. Transportation Command that would otherwise be filled by heavily-tasked KC-135s, legacy KC-10s and other mobility assets.