The US Air Force’s McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) has conducted the first flight of the KC-46 Pegasus as part of the initial operations testing and evaluation (IOT&E) period.
Team McConnell performed the sortie to verify normal operation checklists and functionality of the airforce’s newest refuelling aircraft’s systems.
Aircrew assigned to the 344th Air Refueling Squadron refuelled two F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft four times. Around 29,000lb of fuel was offloaded during the flight.
344th ARS KC-46 IOT&E instructor pilot captain Christopher Cahill said: “We were validating boom air refuelling with F-16s.
“We were testing the processes and procedures to make sure that they were validated and adequate. We were looking for, basically, positive outcomes, run the checklist, confirm that it was completed and done appropriately, and that the jet responded accordingly.”
As part of the first flight, personnel performed pre-flight checks and prepared tanker contact.
Operating procedures also included air refuelling, refuelling F-16 receivers, post-air refuelling and post-landing checks.
The mandate of the sortie was to collect tangible and measurable data for use in future IOT&E flights. The aircrew also gave feedback on the refuelling process or equipment use.
The information from this flight was incorporated in the second flight, which involved receiving fuel from another KC-46. The 344th ARS completed the second sortie successfully.
344th ARS operations superintendent master sergeant Devin Kay said: “We are also validating and verifying, not only normal operations but if we were to have a non-normal (situation), those checklists also. Anything that would affect the way the aircraft is operating, we’re validating all of those things.”
The IOT&E will continue with several test flights planned to take place. To be performed by 344th ARS, these flights will include different receivers, including the KC-46.
On 29 April, the aircraft underwent its first refuelling test with a C-5M Super Galaxy out of Travis AFB, California, US. Travis AFB is expected to receive its first KC-46 Pegasus in 2023.
Meanwhile, the Boeing-built aerial refuelling aircraft is set to make its global public debut at this year’s Paris Air Show in France.