The US Air Force (USAF) is testing KC-46A Pegasus multirole tanker at Benefield Anechoic Facility (BAF) at Edwards Air Force Base, California, US.
The testing is being conducted to show that the aerial refuelling tanker is in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration certification requirements and the US Department of Defense (DoD) electromagnetic environmental effects requirements for systems.
The tests, including shielding effectiveness, emission control and high intensity radiated fields, would confirm that the KC-46A systems do not suffer performance degradation that would prevent mission completion when subjected to the external radio frequency environment, the USAF stated.
These tests are being carried out by Boeing, 772nd Test Squadron, 418th Flight Test Squadron and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.
Operated by the 772nd Test Squadron, the BAF provides a free space so electronic warfare tests can be conducted without radio frequency interference from the outside world.
The BAF is said to be the largest anechoic chamber in the world and can fit most aircraft inside. It is filled with polyurethane and polyethylene pyramids designed to stop reflections of electromagnetic waves.
772nd Test Squadron project lead engineer Delia Reyes said: “It also provides efficient testing that requires a large amount of high-power RF radiation, whereas outdoors this would be very restrictive and typically limited to shorter night-time test operations.”
The USAF initiated the KC-46A tanker modernisation programme to replace about a third of the service’s ageing fleet of KC-135 Stratotanker fleet.
The KC-46A is capable of providing boom and drogue refuelling on the same sortie, world-wide navigation and communication, and airlift capability on the entire main deck floor. It is also proficient in receiver air refuelling, improved force protection and survivability, and multi-point air refuelling capability.
Image: A Boeing KC-46 Pegasus is loaded on the rotating platform at the Benefield Anechoic Facility for a series of avionics tests. Photo: courtesy of the US Air Force photo by Christopher Okula.