The US Air Force Air Mobility Command (AMC) has cleared the KC-46A Pegasus tanker for worldwide deployment.
With the approval, the KC-46A can now deploy in all combatant command operations.
“We are ready to use this aircraft globally in any fight, without hesitation,” AMC Commander Gen. Mike Minihan announced.
The KC-46A’s clearance follows an employment concept exercise held in the US Central Command area of operations. During the exercise, the aircraft was assessed while performing real-world combat operations and refueling other tankers in theater.
KC-46A in Aircraft Refueling and Battlefield Awareness
During the employment concept exercise, the KC-46A achieved its first operationally-tasked mission after refueling two F-15E Strike Eagles from the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.
The aircraft also demonstrated its battlespace situational awareness, utilizing the onboard communications platform Military Data Network to secure communication between a ground-based Air Operations Center and airborne aircraft in the vicinity.
“The KC-46 now officially joins the rest of the Air Force’s refueling fleet in meeting combatant command requirements around the world,” AMC Cross Functional Team Leader Brig. Gen. Ryan Samuelson said.
“But the KC-46A is a game changer in its ability to transmit and exchange data between networks, arming warfighters with real-time battlefield awareness — extending the joint force’s reach, flexibility, and endurance capabilities.”
The KC-46A completed 206 flight hours and provided 1.46 million pounds of fuel to 66 aircraft during the exercise.
The KC-46A’s results concluded the final Interim Capability Release, a 15-month process that guaranteed the aircraft could refuel all compatible units.
“We have rapidly operationalized this aircraft to support the joint force,” Minihan explained. “We’re taking a hard look at our entire toolkit to make sure we extract maximum value to be ready for a high-end fight.”