KC-46A refuels first international aircraft during Employment Capability Exercise Published April 27, 2022 Air Mobility Command Public Affairs MORÓN AIR BASE, Spain (AFNS) -- In a major milestone for the KC-46A Pegasus program, the aircraft refueled Spanish EF-18 Hornets, known in Spain as C-15s, April 18, during its first Employment Concept Exercise, or ECE 22-03, at Morón Air Base. Morón Air Base commander, Spanish Air Force Col. Enrique Fernandez Ambel, observes as U.S. Air Force Capt. Steven Strickland, 344th Air Refueling Squadron KC-46A Pegasus instructor pilot, approaches to receive fuel during an orientation flight April 18, 2022. Spanish commanders joined the flight to familiarize themselves with U.S. tanker operations and witness the first Pegasus refueling of an international aircraft, a Spanish EF-18 Hornet, also known in Spain as a C-15. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Eckert) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res “The KC-46A, its aircrews, maintenance and support personnel performed magnificently over the last seven weeks in Spain,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command. “They 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 refueling of an international aircraft. AMC continues to drive toward increased refueling capability while working to overcome programmatic challenges.” According to Brig. Gen. Ryan Samuelson, AMC’s KC-46A Cross Functional Team lead, the Interim Capability Release plan, of which the ECE is a part, has significantly enhanced KC-46A operations over the last 10 months. “The Pegasus is now cleared to support nearly 85 percent of joint force receivers requesting air refueling from U.S. Transportation Command,” Samuelson said. “While the ICR brought on KC-46 mission capabilities, the ECE will now operationalize those capabilities across a spectrum of mission scenarios.” AMC introduced the second phase of ICR on March 10, when Minihan approved the employment of four KC-46As and approximately 220 active, Guard and Reserve Airmen to Moron AB to conduct the first of a series of ECEs designed to enhance operational fielding and sustainment of the KC-46A. Throughout ECE 22-03, aircraft and personnel remained under AMC authorities as they validated desired learning objectives and prepared to support theater operational missions as required. The KC-46A ICR plan allows the Pegasus to conduct operational taskings that would otherwise be filled by the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender, increasing the force’s air refueling capacity and further seasoning total force Pegasus aircrews with operational missions. A Spanish Air Force EF-18 Hornet, known as a C-15 in Spain, approaches a U.S. Air Force KC-46A Pegasus for refueling off the aircraft’s centerline drogue April 18, 2022. This fueling method involves trailing a long hose with a windsock called a drogue behind the tanker to refuel certain aircraft types. This mission marked the first refueling of an international receiver for the KC-46A, paving the way for future international operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Eckert) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res A KC-46A Pegasus from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., begins an overpass before landing at Morón Air Base, Spain, April 18, 2022. The aircraft participated in the first KC-46 Employment Concept Exercise, ECE22-03, an Air Mobility Command effort to evaluate the aircraft’s ability to provide rapid global mobility capacity to future joint force operations in a contingency-like environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Eckert) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res A Spanish Air Force EF-18 Hornet, known in Spain as a C-15, from Torrejón Air Base, Spain, pulls away after refueling from a U.S. Air Force KC-46A Pegasus based at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., April 18, 2022. The Spanish fighter is the first international aircraft to be refueled by the KC-46A. The aircrew and four KC-46As were in Spain for the aircraft’s first Employment Concept Exercise, ECE 22-03, which is designed to further operational testing and evaluation, increase proficiency among aircrews and support personnel, and strengthen aircraft sustainment operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Eckert) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res The mission also provided an opportunity to build relations with its Spanish hosts and showcase what the Pegasus can bring to international operations with allies and partners. Despite existing restrictions and deficiencies, the KC-46A continues to demonstrate its growing operational capabilities. The Pegasus offloaded more than 78 million pounds of fuel and completed more than 34,900 boom and 2,200 drogue contacts since January 2019. As of April 26, the Air Force has 57 KC-46As in its inventory. The KC-46A currently operates out of McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas; Seymour Johnson Air Reserve Base, North Carolina; Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire; Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.