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AMC moves forward with second KC-46 ICR milestone

Capt. Wade Gallup, 7th Airlift Squadron pilot, approaches a KC-46 Pegasus during refueling training over central Wash., Jan. 30, 2019. With its multiple options the KC-46 can refuel Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and partner nation aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Sara Hoerichs)

Capt. Wade Gallup, 7th Airlift Squadron pilot, approaches a KC-46 Pegasus during refueling training over central Wash., Jan. 30, 2019. With its multiple options the KC-46 can refuel Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and partner nation aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Sara Hoerichs)

Capt. Wade Gallup, 7th Airlift Squadron pilot, approaches a KC-46 Pegasus during refueling training over central Wash., Jan. 30, 2019. With its multiple options the KC-46 can refuel Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and partner nation aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Sara Hoerichs)

Capt. Wade Gallup, 7th Airlift Squadron pilot, approaches a KC-46 Pegasus during refueling training over central Wash., Jan. 30, 2019. With its multiple options the KC-46 can refuel Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and partner nation aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Sara Hoerichs)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of Air Mobility Command, approved a second Interim Capability Release mission set for the KC-46A Pegasus on August 5, 2021.  

This is the first ICR decision regarding the air refueling boom mission set, allowing the KC-46 to become taskable by U.S. Transportation Command for the C-17 Globemaster III, B-52H Stratofortress and KC-46 receivers.  

“We have reviewed many of the KC-46 operational employment criteria over the past several months and it was clear we were ready for another milestone,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan Samuelson, AMC Deputy Director of Strategy, Plans, Requirements and Programs and KC-46 Cross Functional Team Lead. "Though a fully-mission capable aircraft is a few years away, releasing capability our KC-46 bases have demonstrated they can safely and effectively support and employ is a large part of how AMC is accelerating the KC-46 on the path to becoming fully operational and combat-ready.” 

This decision enables the Pegasus aircraft and crews to accept operational taskings that would otherwise be filled by KC-135s and KC-10s and provides predicted reliability and capacity for joint force air refueling requirements.     

The first ICR decision approved the KC-46A Pegasus’ Centerline Drogue System mission set on July 9, 2021.  

There is no timeline associated with the ICR plan, which instead focuses on establishing confidence measures that allow the AMC commander and other senior leaders to qualitatively and quantitatively assess achievements at ICR milestones. If confidence measures are not met, then a particular mission set will not be certified for operational use and crews will continue to fly training, exercise and demonstration missions until the operational confidence measures are met. 

Despite restrictions and deficiencies, the KC-46 continues to demonstrate its growing operational capacity. The KC-46 has safely conducted over 4,700 air refueling contacts with C-17, B-52 and KC-46 receivers since October 2020 on various training and exercise missions.  

As of July 1, 2021, crews have flown over 5,000 sorties, with more than 2,700 missions executed during the 2021 calendar year. Nearly 1,000 of those missions supported testing and joint force taskings around the world. The achievement of these confidence measures resulted in the AMC formally operationalizing the boom capabilities for these receivers.