The US Air Force (USAF) has completed receiver certification testing with the KC-46 Pegasus mid-air refuelling tanker and F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft.

Certification testing was performed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, US. The USAF’s 418th Flight Test Squadron and the 461st FLTS took part in testing with the platforms.

461st FLTS commander and F-35 Integrated Test Force director lieutenant colonel Tucker Hamilton noted that the completion of receiver certification testing will contribute towards enhancing capabilities that will assist the warfighter.

Hamilton said: “The ability for the F-35 to receive fuel from the KC-46 is a tremendous capability for the warfighter.

“Through our combined test effort, the F-35 will soon gain clearance that is the foundation of an aircraft pairing, F-35 and KC-46, that will define the battlespace for decades to come.”

Derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, KC-46 is a multirole tanker capable of refuelling allied and coalition military aircraft. The aircraft can also carry passengers, cargo and patients.

The KC-46 Pegasus will replace the USAF’s ageing KC-135 Stratotankers fleet. The service is expected to procure 179 tankers. Boeing is currently under contract to deliver the first 52 aircraft.

In April, the company secured a $5.7bn contract from the US Department of Defense to provide post-production requirements for the KC-46 aircraft.

In December, Boeing and the USAF completed Phase II receiver certification flight testing, featuring three weeks of flights with F-15E aircraft out of Edwards Air Force Base.

The tanker has so far completed testing with KC-135, C-17, A-10, KC-46, B-52, and F/A-18, F-15E, and F-35 aircraft.