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Old 11-22-2022, 08:41 AM
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Thumbs up Air Force’s newest refueler earns record with nonstop 36-hour flight

Air Force’s newest refueler earns record with nonstop 36-hour flight
By: John Vandiver - Stars & Stripes News - 11-22-22

1st Photo link:
Capt. Jordan Gauvin, a pilot with the 157th Air Refueling Wing, flies a KC-46A Pegasus over the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 16, 2022. The flight, a 36-hour nonstop endurance mission covering 16,000 miles, set an Air Force record. (Timm Huffman/U.S. Air Force)

A U.S. Air Force air-to-air refueler has set a flight record with a 36-hour nonstop endurance mission covering 16,000 miles, the service said in a statement.

The flight, which involved a KC-46A Pegasus from the 157th Air Refueling Wing out of New Hampshire, is now the Air Mobility Command’s longest mission to date, the Air Force said.

“This extended mission is yet another example of capable Airmen taking charge and moving out to accelerate our employment of the KC-46A,” Gen. Mike Minihan, AMC commander, said in a Friday statement.

The flight occurred over a two-day span from Nov. 16-17.

2nd photo link:
A New Hampshire Air National Guard crew guides their KC-46A Pegasus while receiving fuel from another Pease KC-46A during a 36-hour endurance mission, Nov. 16, 2022. The proof-of-concept mission was crewed by active-duty and Air National Guard airmen, who flew the jet nonstop from New Hampshire across North America and the Pacific Ocean, around Guam and back home again. (Timm Huffman/U.S. Air Force)

Minihan described the effort as meeting an “imperative to think differently” as the Air Force aims to provide more options to the broader joint force.

The KC-46A plays a key role in extending the reach of American warplanes. The plane itself can be refueled in flight while delivering fuel to most other aircraft. Notably, unresolved problems mean the KC-46A remains unable to refuel the A-10 attack plane.

The KC-46A Pegasus has dealt with a range of technical difficulties and setbacks over the years, which has complicated Air Force plans to have the aircraft replace the aging KC-135 Stratotanker.

Still, the aircraft has been gradually playing a larger role. In September, Minihan approved the KC-46A for worldwide deployments.

“We are ready to use this aircraft globally in any fight, without hesitation,” Minihan said at the time.

During this month’s endurance mission, the aircraft refueled F-22 fighters in the Pacific and was itself refueled three times, the Air Force said. The crew took off from Pease Air National Guard Base, flying over North America and into the Pacific, going two-thirds of the way around the globe and back, the Air Force said.

Air Force officials said the mission built on previous 22- and 24-hour missions.

About this writer: JOHN VANDIVER:
John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
Personal note: WOW! Was that fully loaded at take off - the aircraft would have
to be quite heavy! I wonder if they fly with two crews just to make sure nobody
nods off during the flight? Wow! Your ass has to be sore having that much time
in the seat! They - I suspect have rotation periods on the aircraft like two
crews - to shift after so many hours. 36 hours is along time!
I wonder if that's with a full tank or is it refueled during its flight and how
much fuel do they have to refuel aircraft and how many during the flight?
Way to go Air Force - WOW! Hope you guys get overtime pay - I know - yea right!

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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