KC-46A completes record-breaking 36-hour endurance mission
A KC-46A Pegasus from the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease Air National Guard Base, NH, flew a 36-hour nonstop endurance mission covering 16,000 miles, Nov. 16-17, the Air Mobility Command’s longest mission to date.
General Mike Minihan, commander of the AMC, relentlessly pushed the command to find new ways to use current resources in anticipation of future combat.
“This extended mission is another example of Airmen being able to support and move to accelerate our use of the KC-46A,” Minihan said. “This Total Force mission boldly highlights the imperative to think differently, change the way we do business and provide options for the Joint Force.”
The KC-46A Pegasus provides strategic flexibility to the Air Force with its unique blend of persistence and presence. Since each KC-46A can itself be refueled in the air, each aircraft can persist in areas of operations to allow 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 took advantage of the KC-46A’s secure, unclassified networks and situational awareness systems, allowing for a wide range 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 leader, described the importance of the mission.
“Pease’s accomplishment of this mission is the third consecutive success proving the airborne perseverance of the KC-46A, building on the previous 22- and 24-hour missions,” he said. “AMC has embarked on a deliberate approach to broaden the scope of employment of the KC-46A and its overall command and control capabilities.”
A human performance monitor on board the flight collected quantitative data throughout the mission. This data, along with data collected during other recent missions over 20 hours, will be used to inform decision-making regarding future employment opportunities that do not meet the standards.
In another unique twist, the information detailed in this release was sent to AMC management using the aircraft’s onboard communications links during the flight. After its record exit, the aircraft landed “Code 1” – ready to fly with no anomalies.
Lt. Col. Brian Carloni, commander of the 157th Operations Group, expressed further accomplishment from the sortie.
“This mission was a true example of total force integration. The expertise of our Guard and active duty Airmen in executing this mission demonstrated how crucial teamwork is in any warfare scenario,” he said.