USAF KC-46A Tanker Performs Record-High 36-Hour Non-Stop Mission

The US Air Force’s new KC-46A Pegasus has achieved an important milestone after conducting a non-stop endurance mission that lasted 36 hours.

Operated by pilots from the 157th Air Refueling Wing, the tanker aircraft covered 16,000 miles (25,749 kilometers).

According to the service, the flight is the longest in the history of Air Mobility Command (AMC).

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

“This total force mission boldly highlights the imperative to think differently, change the way we do business, and provide options to the joint force.”

The 157th Air Refueling Wing guides a KC-46A Pegasus as it receives fuel from another Pease KC-46A during a 36-hour endurance mission. Photo: Senior Master Sgt. Timm Huffman/US Air Force
The long-duration sortie took place from Nov. 16-17 and was crewed by active duty and Air National Guard Airmen from Pease, who flew the jet non-stop from New Hampshire, across North America and the Pacific Ocean, around Guam, and back home again. The proof-of-concept operation showcased the ability of the Air Force’s newest tanker to project the force in the modern battle space. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Timm Huffman)

During the record-setting mission, the air-to-air refueler flew west across the US and out into the Pacific Ocean.

The aircraft continued above Hawaii and across the International Dateline to Guam before returning to New Hampshire.

The KC-46A Pegasus

Manufactured by Boeing, the KC-46A Pegasus reportedly features better refueling and cargo transport capabilities than any other tanker aircraft.

It is designed to refuel most fixed-wing, receiver-capable aircraft with the help of a boom driven by a fly-by-wire control system.

With a wingspan of 156 feet (47.5 meters), the aircraft can carry up to 212,299 pounds (96,297 kilograms) of fuel.

According to the US Air Force, its ability to supply fuel to other aircraft and stay aloft for extended periods provides vital support for military aerial assets.

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