A KC-46A Pegasus aircrew from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, took off from Scott AFB, Ill., to refuel several F/A-18 Hornets flying from Wisconsin to California during a Cornet Aug. 21, 2020.
“Coronets” are missions where aircraft that need to travel large distances, either over land or oceans, are assigned tankers to fly with them to provide fuel along their route. This was the first Coronet tasking for the KC-46A aircraft and crew.
“The KC-46A team performed multiple refuelings for the Navy F/A-18’s from Volk Field, Wisc., to Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.,” said Maj. Tim Bexten, 344th Air Refueling Squadron assistant director of operations. “It set the foundation for future Coronet planning using the KC-46.”
The KC-46 has drogue refueling baskets that can be extended on the aircraft’s centerline and wingtips, as well as a centerline boom that can be used to refuel multiple types of aircraft.
“With both the drogue and the in-flight boom, we can refuel without the need to swap out components on the ground via maintenance overhaul. We can organically switch between the two to support multiple aircraft,” said Bexten.
The aircraft commander for the mission, Capt. Ryan Robinson, who is also the 344th ARS Chief of Training, said planners for Exercise Northern Lightning contacted them several weeks ago for the real-world support. After coordination and official tasking from the 618th Air Operations Center, the teams rallied to perform the mission.
Bexten added, “The entire team played an active role in coordinating and ensuring success of the Coronet mission and were able to successfully complete the mission as well as find learning points to streamline the process and ensure the same success down the road.”