US Air Mobility Command approves F-15, F-16 receivers as third KC-46 ICR milestone

Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of US Air Mobility Command, approved a third Interim Capability Release (ICR) mission set for the KC-46A Pegasus on Oct. 13, 2021.  

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US Air Mobility Command approves F 15 F 16 receivers as third KC 46 ICR milestone A KC-46 Pegasus from the 97th Air Mobility Wing, assigned to the 56th Air Refueling Squadron, Altus Air Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma, refuels an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 49th Wing, 54th Fighter Group, Holloman AFB, New Mexico, on December 7, 2020. Two Altus AFB KC-46s and ten Holloman AFB F-16s teamed up in the skies over New Mexico to practice air refueling operations (Picture source: 1st Lt. Daniel Lee)

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 over 6,000 missions, offloading over 35 million pounds of fuel, and making 26,000 boom and 1,500 drogue contacts since January 2019.

On July 9, 2021, 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, C-17 and other KC-46 aircraft using its boom, was made August 5, 2021.

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.