The head of Air Mobility Command this week cleared the way for the KC-46 tanker aircraft to refuel F-15s and F-16s, marking the third time officials have approved an interim capability release to grant greater capacity to U.S. Transportation Command.
AMC announced the move in a press release today, two days after Gen. Mike Minihan, who took over as commander after Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost was recently confirmed to lead TRANSCOM, signed off on the ICR.
The latest expansion of the KC-46’s limited operational missions allows the tanker to refuel all variants of the two fighters, freeing up the legacy KC-10 and KC-135 for other operational taskings. It’s part of a broader plan from AMC, which Ovost announced in February, to expand the KC-46’s mission sets as the program awaits full mission capability amid delays that have pushed the decision to 2024.
“The KC-46 can now support 62 percent of all receiver aircraft that request air refueling support from USTRANSCOM,” Brig. Gen. Ryan Samuelson, AMC’s deputy director of strategy, plans, requirements and programs and the KC-46 cross functional team lead, said in the release. "This step forward accelerates the critical projection and connection warfighting requirements the Pegasus brings to the joint force, even before it’s fully operational.”
AMC in July approved the first ICR, permitting the KC-46 centerline drogue system to be used for operational missions; in August, the command allowed the aircraft to refuel the B-52, C-17 and other KC-46s.