The head of Air Mobility Command has approved the use of the KC-46 centerline drogue system for operational missions -- part of an interim capability release strategy to make the tanker more available for joint taskings.
Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost signed off on the use of the drogue system July 9, and AMC announced the approval in a press release Monday.
"The last six months of operational use and programmatic evaluation indicate conditions have been met for ICR declaration of the centerline drogue system mission set," Van Ovost said in the release. "The decision reflects a risk-informed, data-driven, constraint-analyzed approach to releasing KC-46A operational capabilities to the joint force."
AMC announced in February it was looking to expand the range of operational missions the KC-46 could conduct as the program works to overcome deficiencies that have delayed a full mission-capable decision until 2024. The ICR plan takes a conditions-based approach, setting a framework to provide a level of capacity to U.S. Transportation Command based on factors like safety and availability.
While the KC-46 has already been performing a limited operational mission set, the expanded envelope will make it available for TRANSCOM taskings and will free legacy KC-10s and KC-135s to execute other mission sets the KC-46 is not yet able to support.