MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – A KC-46A Pegasus assigned to the 22nd Air Refueling Wing completed the first Tanker Airlift Control Center tasking for the airframe Aug. 11, 2021, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.
“This sortie – which was the first operational tasking of the KC-46 from TACC – is another significant milestone in the KC-46 program,” said Col. Nate Vogel, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “From generating to flying, the Airmen were excited to get after it. I couldn’t be more proud of the 22nd ARW and Team McConnell.”
The feat came after Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of Air Mobility Command, recently approved two Interim Capability Release mission sets for the KC-46. The ICRs have approved operational use of the Centerline Drogue System and allowed the KC-46 to become taskable by U.S. Transportation Command.
“The ICR, approved last month by General Van Ovost, is already proving to be an accelerant towards Initial Operational Capability,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Moores, 344th Air Refueling Squadron commander. “It is opening the aperture for our Airmen to contribute to the warfighters through our official tasking process, get real-world operational experience, and to see the results of the hard work they have put towards this program since delivery number one.”
During the TACC mission, the McConnell KC-46 aircrew utilized the aircraft’s centerline drogue system to refuel a total of four F/A-18 Hornets from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112, Fort Worth, Texas.
“Having been a part of this program since the initial test refueling, it is exciting to be a part of the team executing the first official tasking of the KC-46,” said Chief Master Sergeant Lindsay Moon, 22nd Operations Group superintendent. “To be honest though, we are in the process of building such a robust team of boom operators at McConnell that any one of 100 different members could have been out here seamlessly executing this mission in my place. It’s wonderful to see the KC-46 program continue to develop and be able to alleviate some of the workload carried for decades by our sister squadrons. The total force effort that has been working tirelessly to get us here is finally getting the opportunity to bare the fruit of their efforts.”
Despite setbacks, the KC-46 continues to make strides towards expanding its operational capacity. The approval of the ICR mission sets enable the KC-46 and crews to accept operational taskings that would otherwise be filled by KC-135s and KC-10s.
“What you are starting to see is the advantage we have gained and the summation of our young Airmen’s hard work, a synchronized higher headquarters and a strategic leader driving accelerated change,” said Moores. “It feels like we have come so far since the first aircraft was delivered, wait until you see where we are at next Spring. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the KC-46 enterprise.”