WICHITA (KSNT) – Flight crews on two U.S. Air Force refueling aircraft out of Kansas spent nearly two days in the air while performing an endurance flight in December.
The 22nd Air Refueling Wing reports that two KC-46A Pegasus aircrafts took part in a Bomber Task Force mission from Dec. 17-18 over the Pacific Ocean. The planes flew for 42 hours, passing over Hawaii and stopping briefly in Guam before returning to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. This was the first time the KC-46 has directly flown in support of a Bomber Task Force mission.
The KC-46A Pegasus enhances lethality and additional options to the force it supports in the air with its ability to extend reach and increase awareness over the battlefield. The crews onboard flew with the task force to ensure that the KC-46A is capable of flying for world-wide employment and support long-range strike capabilities in the Pacific Ocean.
Medical professionals worked with the crews of the two aircrafts to design rest schedules to lower the amount of fatigue endured during the mission, according to the 22nd Air Refueling Wing. Missions such as this one serve to lower the number of crews onboard to simulate what a flight like this would look like for a normal crew and how the crews would handle the situations of long endurance.
“I’ve done (a) 24-hour flight and it’s not bad as long as you take the sufficient mitigating factors such as good rest, good food and bring things to do (in order) to keep your mind occupied during the rest cycle,” said Staff Sgt. Brad MaGee, 349th Refueling Squadron boom operator.
The 22nd Air Refueling Wing reports that the KC-46 is capable of protecting itself in a contested environment due to several defensive and communication features.
“This mission highlighted both endurance operations and the close integration between multiple platforms and capabilities,” said Colonel Nate Vogel, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “Our amazing Airmen, from aircrew to support personnel, tirelessly work to provide capability to combatant commanders while continuing to be at the forefront of the operational evolution of tankers.”
The U.S. Air Force describes the KC-46A as the first phase in recapitalizing the aging tanker fleet of the U.S. It has enhanced refueling, cargo and aeromedical evacuation capabilities compared to previous aircraft such as the KC-135. To learn more about KC-46A, click here.