U.S. Air Force approves F-15, F-16 receivers as third KC-46 ICR milestone

The commander of the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, Gen. Mike Minihan, approved a third Interim Capability Release mission set for the KC-46A Pegasus, Oct. 13, 2021.

This ICR decision allows the KC-46 to refuel all variants of the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon during U.S. Transportation Command tasked missions.

“The KC-46 can now support 62 percent of all receiver aircraft that request air refueling support from USTRANSCOM,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan Samuelson, AMC deputy director of Strategy, Plans, Requirements and Programs, and KC-46 Cross Functional Team lead. “This step forward accelerates the critical projection and connection warfighting requirements the Pegasus brings to the joint force, even before it’s fully operational.”

This ICR allows the Pegasus aircraft and crews to accept operational taskings which would otherwise be filled by the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender, increasing the force’s air refueling capacity.

Despite existing restrictions and deficiencies, the KC-46 continues to demonstrate its growing operational capabilities. The Pegasus has completed more than 6,000 missions, offloading more than 35 million pounds of fuel, and making 26,000 boom and 1,500 drogue contacts since January 2019.

On July 9, the first ICR decision approved the KC-46A Pegasus to refuel aircraft using its Centerline Drogue System. The second ICR decision, which approved the KC-46 to refuel the B-52 Stratofortress, C-17 Globemaster III, and other KC-46 aircraft using its boom, was made August 5.

There is no timeline associated with the overall ICR plan, which instead focuses on establishing incremental confidence measures that allow the AMC commander and other senior leaders to qualitatively and quantitatively assess achievements at ICR milestones. Crews will continue to fly training, exercise, and demonstration missions until all operational confidence measures are met.

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