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KC-46A flies 36-hour, record-breaking endurance mission

  • Published
  • By Air Mobility Command
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

A KC-46A Pegasus from the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire, flew a 36-hour non-stop endurance mission covering 16,000 miles, Nov. 16-17, Air Mobility Command’s longest mission to date.

Gen. Mike Minihan, AMC commander, has relentlessly driven the command to find new ways to employ current assets in anticipation of a future fight.

“This extended mission is yet another example of capable Airmen taking charge and moving out to accelerate our employment of the KC-46A,” said Minihan. “This Total Force mission boldly highlights the imperative to think differently, change the way we do business, and provide options to the Joint Force.”

The KC-46A Pegasus provides strategic flexibility to the Air Force through its unique blend of persistence and presence. Since every KC-46A can itself be refueled in flight, each aircraft can persist in operations areas to enable sustained support to armed aircraft. During the mission, the aircraft refueled F-22 fighters in the Pacific and was itself refueled three times.

The crew leveraged the KC-46A’s secure and unclassified networks and situational awareness systems, which allows for a broad array of future uses. The platform’s situational awareness capabilities enable its protection in contested environments.

Lt. Col. Joshua Renfro, AMC’s new KC-46A Cross-Functional team lead, described the importance of the mission.

“Pease’s accomplishment of this mission is the third consecutive success proving the KC-46A’s airborne persistence, building on previous 22- and 24-hour missions,” he said. “AMC is committed to a deliberate approach to broaden the scope of KC-46A employment and its global command and control capabilities.”

A human performance monitor aboard the flight collected quantitative data throughout the mission. This data, along with that collected during the other recent 20+ hour missions, will be used to inform decision making for future norm-breaking employment opportunities.

In another unique turn, the information detailed in this release was sent to AMC leadership using the aircraft’s on-board communications links during flight. Following its record-breaking sortie, the aircraft landed “Code 1” – ready to fly with no discrepancies.

Lt. Col. Brian Carloni, 157th Operations Group commander, voiced an additional accomplishment of the sortie.

“This mission was a true example of Total Force Integration. The expertise of both our Guard and Active Duty Airmen in executing this mission demonstrated how crucial teamwork is in any wartime scenario,” he said.