The US Air Force’s (USAF) KC-46A Pegasus military aerial refuelling aircraft is set to begin its flight tests from Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) to demonstrate its capability as a receiver aircraft.
KC-46A Pegasus will be based at Edwards AFB through this month as the aircraft manufacturer Boeing and USAF’s 418th Flight Test Squadron will carry out tests with the new tanker.
The USAF’s 412th Test Wing will serve as the lead developmental test organisation for the KC-46 programme and will be supported by several units from both on and off base.
Though the Pegasus aircraft is used to refuel other jets, it also needs to be refuelled by KC-10 Extenders or KC-135 Stratotankers in order to extend its range.
USAF 418th Flight Test Squadron commander said: “The primary focus of the current test effort is certifying the KC-46 as a receiver aircraft behind the KC-135.
“As a fully air-refuelable tanker, the KC-46 offers the warfighter increased flexibility. Testing being accomplished at Edwards now will enable that capability.”
Calhoun added: “While the KC-46 has done some remote testing at other bases, this is the beginning of a new chapter in its development where Edwards personnel can directly test the airforce’s newest aircraft on site at the world’s premier flight test location.”
The KC-46A Pegasus military jet has been designed to replace the USAF’s existing and ageing tanker fleet, which has been refuelling other aircraft for more than 50 years.
The aircraft features increased refuelling capacity, in addition to improved efficiency and capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation.
KC-46A will be deployed to offer aerial refuelling capability to the USAF, the US Navy, the US Marine Corps and other aircraft of the allied nations.