A Boeing [BA] KC-46A Pegasus from the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., flew a 36-hour non-stop endurance mission covering 16,000 miles on Nov. 16-17, a record for Air Mobility Command (AMC), the command said.

During the mission, the plane refueled F-22 fighters over the Pacific and was refueled three times, AMC said.

The Nov. 16-17 flight apparently busts the previous record by 12 hours, as the U.S. Air Force and AMC try to iron out remote refueling problems with the aircraft in advance of a full-rate production decision.

In May, a KC-46A from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell AFB, Kan., flew more than 24 hours straight–the longest mission in the history of Air Mobility Command (AMC), according to the Air Force (Defense Daily, Oct. 28). During the more than 9,000-mile journey, rotating pilots caught sleep every few hours, as the aircraft did dry refueling runs with another KC-46A, refueled four U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs by Lockheed Martin [LMT] and was refueled by another KC-46A from McConnell, the Air Force said.

During the Nov. 16-17 flight, the KC-46A crew “leveraged the KC-46A’s secure and unclassified networks and situational awareness systems, which allows for a broad array of future uses,” AMC said. “The platform’s situational awareness capabilities enable its protection in contested environments.

“A human performance monitor aboard the flight collected quantitative data throughout the mission. This data, along with that collected during the other recent 20+ hour missions, will be used to inform decision making for future norm-breaking employment opportunities,” per AMC.  “In another unique turn, the information detailed in this release was sent to AMC leadership using the aircraft’s on-board communications links during flight. Following its record-breaking sortie, the aircraft landed ‘Code 1’ – ready to fly with no discrepancies.”

Last month, AMC said that it had flown a Pegasus without a co-pilot on Oct. 25 to verify the aircraft is able to fly with a limited aircrew in ad hoc high-end combat missions over long distances (Defense Daily, Oct. 31).

The KC-46A normally has a pilot, co-pilot, and a boom operator, as well as other personnel for longer flights and aeromedical evacuation missions.

AMC said that the Oct. 25 flights at the Utah Test and Training Range included two sorties with just a pilot and boom operator–the first a pattern sortie and the second an aerial refueling sortie.

“The boom operator was co-located in the cockpit with the pilot, except when performing boom operations and a second instructor pilot was on board throughout the entire mission to serve as a safety observer,” AMC said.

The Air Force and Boeing agreed on a Remote Vision System (RVS) 2.0 redesign of the original RVS on April 2, 2020 to fix faulty RVS depth perception, a shortfall which may lead to scraping of the boom on aircraft being refueled–damage that can be especially perilous for low-observable aircraft, such as the F-22 and F-35 fighters.

Unlike the KC-135 but like the KC-10, the KC-46A, a modified Boeing 767 airliner, also has a hose-and-drogue system to refuel U.S. Navy and NATO planes. The Air Force has fielded 62 KC-46As out of a planned buy of 179.

The Air Force said that it foresees fielding RVS 2.0 for the KC-46A in October 2025–a delay of 19 months (Defense Daily, Oct. 7). In 2020, the Air Force said that by 2023 it planned to field RVS 2.0, which is to have 4K color cameras, operator stations with larger screens, a laser ranger for refueling aircraft distance measurement and boom assistance augmented reality.