Boeing and the US Air Force have announced that the KC-46A Pegasus successfully connected in flight with an F-16 Fighting Falcon on July 8 and with a C-17 Globemaster III on July 12 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 the installation of hydraulic pressure relief valves in the boom.
These latest successful tests show that the boom axial loads hardware fix, which was 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 Lee James.
The final Milestone C flight test is to transfer fuel through the fixed boom to an A-10 Thunderbolt. This is scheduled for later this month.
“Once complete with the A-10, we will request approval from Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to award production Lots 1 and 2, totaling 19 KC-46A aircraft,” said Darlene Costello, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force (acquisition).
“While it took some time, this week’s results confirm my confidence that 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 to allied nation coalition aircraft.
July 15, 2016