An aircrew composed of members from the 32nd Air Refueling Squadron and the 605th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron delivered the 32nd ARS’s first KC-46A Pegasus Tanker on Jan. 13, 2023, to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. Fresh from the factory, the KC-46 was flown directly from the Boeing flight line in Everett, Wash. On the day prior, the aircrew enjoyed a tour of the factory with Boeing representatives and gained an in-depth understanding of what goes into making the advanced weapon system. With the retirement of the KC-10 Extender, the 305th AMW has been converting both the KC-10 aircraft and aircrews to the KC-46 program. The Boeing Company is not only the largest employer in the state but the factory itself is the largest building in the world by volume and covers an area of 93.2 acres, which is more land mass than the Pentagon.
“The KC-46 has the capabilities we need to execute the Rapid Global Mobility mission for our Combatant Commanders. The Link-16 system makes the KC-46 the next generation tanker with connectivity to a global network and secures our strategic advantage. Change is always a challenge, but also a time for growth and learning opportunities. Some of the obstacles we have had to work through include the timing of training, continuing to operate the KC-10 while building up a credible KC-46 crew force, the emotional attachment of many to the KC-10, and getting the right resources in place as required KC-46 resources are not one-for-one with those of the KC-10. Throughout it all, our amazing Can Do Airmen are the ones making it all happen, figuring out solutions, turning challenges into opportunities and moving us forward in this endeavor,” said Col. Elizabeth Hanson, 305th Air Mobility Wing commander.
This new weapon system as a force multiplier and how its capabilities will secure U.S. Air Force strategic advantage over Near-Peer in the infinite game. Sporting an extensive array of capabilities that increases the lethality and tempo of warfighting by integrating the Joint Force, the KC-46 not only empowers the U.S. Air Force as force multiplier, but the Department of Defense as a whole. The KC-46 will help the 305th AMW mission of ‘Generate-Fly-Deliver’ across the board. The KC-46 is an essential part of Rapid Global Mobility for the Joint Force with not only Aerial Refueling, but also its cargo capacity, passenger movement, and aeromedical evacuation capabilities. It will serve as a vital strategic component in the network of the future fight through the Link-16, Advanced Battle Management, and Joint All-Domain Command and Control systems. These systems allow the KC-46 to integrate smoothly with the Joint Force as well as our allies and global mission partners.
The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus is an American military aerial refueling and strategic military transport aircraft developed by Boeing from its 767 jet airliner. In February 2011, the tanker was selected by the U.S. Air Force) as the winner in the KC-X tanker competition to replace older Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers. The first aircraft was delivered to the Air Force in January 2019. The KC-46 Pegasus is a variant of the Boeing 767 and is a widebody, low-wing cantilever monoplane with a conventional empennage featuring a single fin and rudder. It has a retractable tricycle landing gear and a hydraulic flight control system. The Pegasus is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4062 engines, one mounted under each wing. The KC-46A can carry 212,299 lb (96,297 kg) of fuel, 10 percent more than the KC-135, and 65,000 lb (29,000 kg) of cargo. The U.S. Air Force intends to procure 179 Pegasus aircraft by 2027.