USAF KC-46A carries out first foreign aircraft refueling

U.S. Air Force photo

A Boeing KC-46A Pegasus of the United States Air Force (USAF) refueled several F-18 Hornets belonging to the Ejército del Aire, the Spanish Air Force, marking the first operational refueling of a foreign aircraft. 

This milestone was announced by the Air Mobility Command (AMC) of the USAF on April 27, 2022. The mission, which took place on April 18, 2022, was part of a seven-week Employment Concept Exercise at Moron Air Base, Spain. 

“The KC-46A, its aircrews, maintenance and support personnel […] pushed hard to run the aircraft through its paces during the ECE, including supporting a bomber task force, refueling U.S. fighters over Eastern Europe, and completing the first-ever operational refueling of an international aircraft,” said General Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander. “AMC continues to drive toward increased refueling capability while working to overcome programmatic challenges.”   

The Pegasus is now reportedly capable of refueling 85% of allied aircraft. 

The KC-46 Pegasus was supposed to replace the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender and reinforce the thin-stretched refueling capacities of the USAF. But the aircraft has encountered numerous technical problems since the first delivery on January 10, 2019. 

After the suspension of most of its intended missions, it was eventually cleared to conduct everyday refueling missions from its centerline drogue system on July 9, 2021.  

The Air Force has ordered 98 of a planned fleet of 179 KC-46 tankers. 57 have already been delivered to the USAF. 


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