US Air Force To Experiment Deploying KC-46 Pegasus Tankers With A Single Pilot In The Cockpit

US Air Force To Experiment Deploying KC-46 Pegasus Tankers With A Single Pilot In The Cockpit

July 22, 2022 Off By Reem

In anticipation of next year’s Mobility Guardian 2023 exercise, the US Air Force Air Mobility Command is already planning to experiment sending its Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial tankers on combat missions with a single pilot on board. If the tests are conclusive, the Boeing 767-shaped KC-46 tankers will be allowed, for comabt missions, to be crewed by only one (1) single pilot on board accompanied by one (1) refueling boom operator.

The new paradigm shift seems to have been prompted by military planners fear that in a future war especially against China, the US Air Force tanker fleet will operate at an unprecedented high level of vulnerability to chinese long range missiles. Considering that assumption, airmen’s lives would only be saved by reducing their numbers on board the aircraft.

If feasable, the new single-pilot approach would have to balance the heavier workload requirements imposed to the single pilot directly responsible for operating the aircraft together with planning and executing the tasks associated with successfully accomplishing the mission.

While numerous safety-based concerns are expected to be raised most likely by the tanker pilot community, others have pointed out that fighter pilots flying alone are routinely assigned more hazardous and demanding tasks in combat missions whose level and scope of responsibility are far greater.