The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully completed the refuelling flight of the Boeing-built KC-46A Pegasus (EMD-2) tanker in Washington State.

As part of this development, the test team offloaded fuel to an F/A-18 aircraft flying at 20,000ft using the KC-46’s new hose and drogue system.

The USAF’s KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft and is compatible with international aerial refuelling procedures in addition to the transportation of passengers, cargo and patients.

Boeing said in a statement: "The KC-46 will refuel US, allied and coalition military aircraft using both its boom and hose and drogue systems.

"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 such as the F/A-18 with up to 400 gallons of fuel per minute."

The KC-46A will now begin to refuel other military aircraft such as C-17, A-10 and AV-8B.

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"The boom allows the tanker to transfer up to 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute."

In January, the USAF completed the first refuelling flight of KC-46A tanker, working through a series of test points before offloading 1,600lb of fuel to an F-16 fighter aircraft flying at 20,000ft.

In September, the USAF completed the first flight of a KC-46A at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. So far, the aircraft has completed 32 flights.

The EMD-3 and EMD-4 aircraft are expected to begin flight testing later this year.

Currently, Boeing is working on the contract to build 179 KC-46 aircraft for the USAF.

Image: The KC-46 Pegasus tanker refuels an F/A-18 aircraft using its hose and drogue system. Photo: courtesy of John Parker /Boeing.