Airmen from McConnell Air Force Base provided the first operational refueling by a KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft during military training exercise Northern Edge 2019 hosted by U.S. Pacific Air Forces kicks off in Alaska.
“Yesterday was a historic day! McConnell provided the first operational refueling by a KC-46,” said on McConnell’s Twitter account. “In formation with a KC-10, we offloaded 30k pounds of fuel to eight F-16s in support of Exercise Northern Edge.”
The KC-46 team at McConnell is comprised of Airmen with a variety of backgrounds from other aircraft who bring different aspects of expertise to the multi-faceted new tanker.
“Every Airman who was transferred to the KC-46 team was hand-selected specifically to bring this airplane to the fight,” said early Lt. Col. Wesley Spurlock, 344th Air Refueling Squadron commander. “They are versatile maintainers, pilots and boom operators who are prepared for any learning curve that comes with a new aircraft.”
The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.
The KC-46A will eventually replace the U.S. Air Force’s aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers which have been the backbone of the refueling fleet for more than 50 years. The KC-46A will provide more refueling capability, an increased capacity for cargo, and modern aeromedical evacuation capabilities.
The KC-46A is expected to provide aerial refueling to Air Force, joint and partner nation aircraft. McConnell will receive 18 tankers in the first round of deliveries and will end up with a fleet of 34.