Boeing has concluded Phase II receiver certification flight testing of the US Air Force’s (USAF) KC-46A Pegasus multirole aerial refuelling tanker aircraft.
The receiver certification testing of KC-46A started in April and saw the tanker conduct flights with F-16 KC-135, C-17, A-10, KC-46, B-52, and F/A-18 aircraft.
The testing culminated with three weeks of flights with F-15E aircraft, which was carried out of Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California.
All data collected during the certification flight tests will be reviewed by the USAF and the Aerial Refueling Certification Agency prior to ‘certifying’ each aircraft.
Boeing KC-46A tanker vice-president and programme manager Mike Gibbons said: “This accomplishment is a tribute to the Boeing / US Air Force team and helps set the stage for the start of initial operational test and evaluation testing next year.
“We are seeing great progress in both test and production and expect the positive momentum to continue as we begin delivering aircraft.”
Over 3,700 flight hours have been logged by six test aircraft so far, supplying more than four million pounds of fuel in flight to receiver aircraft.
KC-46 test programme manager Jake Kwasnik said: “The airforce crews were with us every step of the way during this critical testing.
“It was awesome to see everyone working together as we conducted flights out of Boeing Field and also at Edwards and Minot AFBs.”
During Phase III receiver certification testing, the USAF will test the tanker with additional receiver aircraft at Edwards AFB next year.
Boeing is under contract for the development of a total of 52 KC-46 aircraft of an expected 179 tankers for the USAF.
Being built at Boeing ’s manufacturing facility in Everett, Washington, US, the KC-46 tanker has been designed based on the company’s commercial 767 airframe.