WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — McConnell Air Force Base is celebrating setting a record with a KC-46A Pegasus, the newest plane that refuels other planes midair.
A crew from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing completed a 24-hour-13-minute flight on a KC-46A Pegasus Thursday and Friday.
That is the longest duration flight in the KC-46’s history. It is also the longest flight in the history of Air Mobility Command (AMC). The previous AMC record was 20 hours and 20 minutes.
Col. Nate Vogel, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, said the 24-hour mission is a critical step in the operational evolution of tankers. It helps the AMC identify how best to operate on long-duration missions.
“Long-duration flights are inherently full of risk, and conducting this operation now allows us to identify those risks and then build and apply mitigations in a more controlled environment,” Vogel said. “The Joint Force, our allies, and our partners rely on our capability to project combat power globally … we need to be ready to execute anytime, anywhere.”
McConnell said a lot of planning went into the flight. Teams had to work around current operational needs, extreme weather in the Wichita area, and logistical challenges. Also, the physical and mental well-being of the crew was a priority.
The aircrew consisted of six pilots, three boom operators, a photojournalist, and a physician assistant. Two pilot teams rotated on and off four-hour shifts. A backup pilot team, ready to step in as needed, focused on gathering data and taking extensive notes.
During the 24-plus hours in flight, the McConnell KC-46:
- Performed dry contacts with another McConnell KC-46
- Refueled four Marine F-35s
- Was refueled by another McConnell KC-46
The flight flew along both of the U.S. international borders and most of both coastlines before landing back at McConnell. In all, it traveled more than 9,000 miles.
The data collected from this will be used to determine the feasibility, limitations, potential risks as well as unique benefits of the KC-46 for long-duration flights.