WASHINGTON — The first two KC-46 Pegasus aircraft arrived at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey on Tuesday, making it the U.S. military’s first joint base to operate the new tanker.
The aircrafts’ delivery also marked the 49th and 50th KC-46 to be delivered to the Air Force, Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling said in an email.
McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is expected to receive 15 more KC-46s in fiscal 2022, and another nine in fiscal 2023, the Air Force said in its release.
The 305th and 514th Air Mobility Wings at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will operate and maintain the tankers, the base said in a release, and the 87th Air Base Wing will also provide installation support. The 514th is a Reserve wing.
“We are extremely excited to welcome the KC-46 to the joint base, where it will add to an already rich heritage of delivering hope and answering the call,” 305th commander Col. Scott Wiederholt said at a ceremony for the tankers’ arrival. “The Pegasus will get the job done.”
The Air Force has been steadily expanding the Pegasus’ capabilities this year. Last month, the service announced it had approved the KC-46 to use its boom to refuel fourth-generation F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets during missions for U.S. Transportation Command.
That approval allows the Pegasus to support 62% of aircraft that need air refueling support from TRANSCOM, and allows the KC-46 to take on more missions that otherwise would have been handled by the older KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender.
In August, the Air Force approved the Pegasus to refuel the B-52 Stratofortress, C-17 Globemaster and other KC-46s with its boom. And in July, the aircraft’s first interim capability release decision gave it approval to refuel aircraft with its centerline drogue system. Additional capability expansions are expected in the future.
The KC-46 is also stationed at Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina and Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.