Boeing conducts first air refuelling between two KC-46A tankers


A test team formed by Boeing and the US Air Force (USAF) has completed the first air refuelling mission between two KC-46A Pegasus multi-role tankers.

During the four-hour air refuelling mission, the two aircraft refuelled each other. Both aircraft took off and landed at Boeing Field, south of Seattle, US.

The pair achieved the maximum fuel offload rate of 1,200 gallons per minute and transferred a total of 38,100lb of fuel, Boeing stated.

The refuelling flight paves the way for the next phases of certification and specification compliance testing, according to the company.

Using its boom, hose and drogue systems, KC-46 can refuel the US, allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refuelling procedures.

"The pair achieved the maximum fuel offload rate of 1,200 gallons per minute and transferred a total of 38,100lb of fuel."

The boom allows the tanker to transfer up to 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute, while the plane’s hose and drogue systems, located on both the plane’s wing and centreline, enables the KC-46 to refuel smaller aircraft with up to 400 gallons of fuel per minute.

To date, the KC-46 test aircraft have completed 2,000 flight hours and more than 1,300 contacts during refuelling flights with the F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, and KC-10 aircraft.

The Boeing-built KC-46A Pegasus is a widebody, multi-role tanker that can detect, avoid, defeat and survive threats using multiple layers of protection.

Powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW 4062 engines, the 50.5m-long tanker has a fuel capacity of 212,299lb.


Image: A KC-46A Pegasus tanker is refuelled by a second KC-46 for the first time as seen from the tanker’s air refuelling operator station. Photo: courtesy of Boeing.