Pegasus arrives at Edwards Air Force base for desert tests

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Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft is undergoing tests at the Edwards Air Force Base for more “robust” flight tests.

The KC-46A has visited Edwards for tests before, but this visit will be the start of a more robust test schedule to be conducted in the Mojave Desert.

The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients. The tanker is derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe and is being built at Boeing’s Everett, Washington factory. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 34 of an expected 179 tankers for the US Air Force.

The Pegasus will be at Edwards Air Force Base this month as Boeing and the 418th Flight Test Squadron conduct tests with the new tanker.

“The primary focus of the current test effort is certifying the KC-46 as a receiver aircraft behind the KC-135 [Stratotanker],” said Lt. Col. Paul Calhoun, 418th Flight Test Squadron commander. “As a fully air-refuelable tanker, the KC-46 offers the warfighter increased flexibility. Testing being accomplished at Edwards now will enable that capability.”

Several units from both on and off base are supporting the tests with the 412th Test Wing as the lead developmental test organization for the KC-46 program.

“The KC-46 is still an experimental aircraft owned by Boeing, so they brought with them an army of engineers, maintainers and aircrew. This is a team effort across the entire test wing and with Boeing,” said Calhoun.

“While the KC-46 has done some remote testing at other bases, this is the beginning of a new chapter in its development where Edwards personnel can directly test the Air Force’s newest aircraft on site at the world’s premier flight test location.”

The KC-46A Pegasus is intended to start replacing the Air Force’s aging tanker fleet, which has been refueling aircraft for more than 50 years. The aircraft has more refueling capacity, improved efficiency and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation.

“The 418th is excited to be a part of the effort to robustly test this revolutionary tanker,” added Calhoun.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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