Boeing adds sixth KC-46 aircraft to tanker test programme


Boeing has added a sixth KC-46 Pegasus military aerial refuelling aircraft to its tanker test programme, a move that expands the company's ability to complete ground and flight-test activities.

The addition comes ahead of the first deliveries to the US Air Force (USAF).

The latest KC-46 aircraft has undergone test activities to ensure its ability to operate safely through electromagnetic fields produced by radars, radio towers and other systems, Boeing stated.

The KC-46A tanker test team director Jeanette Croppi said: “Adding another tanker will help us to become even more efficient and significantly improve our ability to complete test points going forward.

“We are also reconfiguring one of our 767-2C aircraft into a tanker, which means we will soon have four KC-46s in test.”

The newest KC-46 aerial refuelling aircraft conducted its maiden flight on 29 April and is said to be the second low-rate initial production tanker.

"Adding this aircraft brings key capabilities to the test fleet and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft to the warfighter."

USAF KC-46 programme manager colonel John Newberry said: “This first flight is another important step towards verifying the aircraft’s operational capabilities.

"Adding this aircraft brings key capabilities to the test fleet and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft to the warfighter."

The test aircraft recorded 1,600 flight hours and more than 1,200 'contacts' during refuelling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, and KC-10 aircraft.

The KC-46A multirole tanker is capable of refuelling all allied and coalition military aircraft that are compatible with international procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.


Image: The newest KC-46 aerial refuelling aircraft conducted its maiden flight on 29 April. Photo: courtesy of Boeing.