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US Air Force Receives Two New KC-46 Tanker Aircraft from Boeing.

On June 3, 2024, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) celebrated a milestone with the arrival of its 21st and 22nd KC-46 Pegasus aircraft. This event brings the total number of KC-46 tankers in service with the U.S. Air Force to 84, further enhancing the strategic refueling capabilities essential for global military operations.
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Boeing delivers two transport aircraft to the US Air Force. (Picture source: Boeing)

The KC-46 Pegasus, developed by Boeing, is a modern aerial refueling tanker designed to replace the aging KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders. The Pegasus offers advanced refueling capabilities, cargo transport, and aeromedical evacuation, making it a versatile asset for the Air Force. The double delivery on June 3, 2024, highlights the ongoing modernization efforts within the U.S. Air Force, ensuring readiness and efficiency in global operations.

JBMDL plays a crucial role in the Air Mobility Command of the Air Force, with the 305th Air Mobility Wing and the 514th Air Mobility Wing actively operating the KC-46 alongside their current fleet. The base also houses the 108th Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, which recently formed a new squadron, the 170th Air Refueling Squadron, to operate the KC-46 in collaboration with active-duty counterparts.

Senator Bob Menendez, a staunch advocate for the KC-46 program at JBMDL, emphasized the importance of these aircraft in maintaining the strategic role of the base. "Hosting the KC-46 secures this Joint Base’s position as the indisputable East Coast hub for aerial refueling, extending the Air Force’s global reach," he stated, highlighting the base's essential contribution to national security and its significant economic impact on New Jersey.

The addition of these tankers reflects the broader strategy of the Air Force to enhance its aerial refueling capabilities until the Next-Generation Air Refueling System (NGAS) becomes operational in the mid-to-late 2030s. This transition period ensures continuous support for global mobility and combat readiness of the U.S. armed forces.

The KC-46 Pegasus is an aerial refueling and transport aircraft developed by Boeing Defense, Space & Security for the U.S. Air Force. It is derived from the Boeing KC-767 and made its first flight on September 25, 2015. Entering service in 2019, this aircraft is designed to provide in-flight refueling capabilities as well as cargo transport and aeromedical evacuation capabilities.

The KC-46 is manufactured in the United States and is currently used primarily by the U.S. Air Force and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Since production began in 2013, 78 units had been built as of October 2023. The Pegasus stands out with its advanced refueling system, including a modernized refueling boom capable of transferring fuel to various types of aircraft in flight. Additionally, it is equipped to transport personnel, equipment, and patients, making this multi-functional aircraft essential for both logistical and combat support missions.

The delivery of the KC-46 highlights the collaborative efforts of various military and civilian stakeholders committed to advancing U.S. airpower. With the new KC-46 aircraft, JBMDL continues to strengthen its pivotal role in supporting U.S. defense initiatives and strategies worldwide.

The KC-46 Pegasus is an aerial refueling and transport aircraft developed by Boeing Defense. ( Picture Source: Boeing)

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