KC-46 returns to the sky for tests

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  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The KC-46A Pegasus connected in flight with an F-16 Fighting Falcon July 8 and a C-17 Globemaster III July 12.


These tests with the F-16 and C-17 were in support of the Milestone C requirements to rendezvous, contact, and transfer fuel to several receiver aircraft types.


An initial attempt with the F-16 earlier this year was successful, however higher-than-expected axial loads on the boom were detected. These loads were again present during the initial attempt with the C-17 and necessitated installation of hydraulic pressure relief valves in the boom.


This week's successful tests show the boom axial loads hardware fix, designed by Boeing engineers, is performing as expected to alleviate the loads.


The 412th Test Wing is the lead developmental test organization for the KC-46 Tanker Program.


"I'm encouraged by these results. The KC-46 program continues to move forward, making important progress that will get this vital capability into the hands of the warfighter," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James.


The final Milestone C flight test is to transfer fuel through the fixed boom to an A-10 Thunderbolt. That test is also slated to occur this month.


"Once complete with the A-10, we will request approval from Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to award production Lots 1 and 2, totaling 19 KC-46A aircraft," according to Darlene Costello, Air Force Service Acquisition executive.


"While it took some time, this week's results confirm my confidence the Boeing team will get this figured out. It's reassuring to see the program take this important step toward the production decision in August," said Gen. Dave Goldfein, chief of staff.


The KC-46A Pegasus is intended to replace the Air Force's aging tanker fleet, which has been refueling aircraft for more than 50 years. With more refueling capacity and enhanced capabilities, improved efficiency and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation, the KC-46A will provide aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as allied nation coalition aircraft.