On 9 November 2021, the first two Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tankers, serials 19-46057 (callsign PUDGY01) and 19-46060 (callsign PUDGY02), arrived at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (NJ).
The arrival of the Pegasus at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (MDL) marked the beginning of new total force aerial refueling operations at the joint base.
The tanker will be operated and maintained by the 305th and 514th Air Mobility Wings at MDL. The air base was selected to receive the KC-46A in 2017 by meeting all operational mission requirements within the US Air Force’s tanker recapitalisation strategy.
The installation, with co-located operations between active and reserve components, expects to receive fifteen additional aircraft during Fiscal Year 2022, with nine more planned for Fiscal Year 2023.
The Pegasus maintains air refueling edge through the use of both the refueling boom and drogue systems, allowing for simultaneous air refueling of multiple aircraft via the central system and the wing pods.
The KC-46A is designed to refuel allied and coalition aircraft and provide multifunctional support, like passenger and cargo transport along with medical and humanitarian relief. It was most recently approved to refuel all variants of F-15s and F-16s, extending its range of support to 62% of all receiver aircraft that request air refueling support. On 20 October 2021, Scramble Magazine reported on the capability improvement.
According to the Scramble Magazine database, the USAF has almost accepted fifty KC-46As out of a total of 179 platforms. The Pegasus programme is limited to 13 production lots, with the last planned procurement in 2027 and delivery in 2029.
Photos by USAF