For the first time, a KC-46 Pegasus has conducted an “alert launch and response”, the United States Air Force reported. 

The sortie tested the capability of the aircraft and its crew to react quickly and efficiently. The response was completed by the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and took place at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

Tanker aircraft are often solicited for missions such as Quick Reaction Alert, where fighter jets can be scrambled to intercept and identify a potential threat. Therefore, it is crucial that the aircraft is airborne and ready to extend the range of the fighters in as short a time as possible.

“Alert missions exist all over the globe and assist in missions ranging from homeland defense to strategic deterrence to search and rescue,” said Capt. Seth Jackson, 344th Air Refueling Squadron, aircraft commander. “The KC-46 provides combatant commanders unmatched strategic flexibility through the ability to enhance multi-domain operations as well as tactical flexibility afforded by the KC-46’s ability to conduct boom or drogue refueling at any time.”

The first KC-46A Pegasus tanker was delivered to the USAF on January 10, 2019. The USAF placed firm orders for 94 aircraft, with plans to acquire up to 179.