The US Air Force’s (USAF) KC-46A aerial refuelling tanker has completed detailed, advanced weapons survivability test series at the Weapons Survivability Lab (WSL) in China Lake, California.
USAF Colonel Chris Coombs said: "We designed these tests against the aircraft to see how it would perform, so we’d know if the people, whether they are pilots, operators or passengers, could survive on this plane under the most relevant of circumstances."
The tests are supported by US Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD). They will help to assess KC-46, system-level survivability in high-fidelity, operational environments against ballistic and advanced threats.
Results from the tests delivered a range of data that is instrumental in reducing worst-case scenarios for the aircraft. The tests were outlined by the KC-46 Live Fire Test and Evaluation Program (LFT&E).
KC-46 LFT&E engineer Eric Brickson said: "There were over 330 channels collecting raw data, ten high speed cameras recording 10,000 to 100,000 frames per second and 30 real time video feeds.
"We had a very extensive list of requirements and NAWCWD met them all."
The KC-46 is a derivative of the commercially-available, federal aviation administration certified Boeing 767-2C.
Meanwhile, Boeing has also completed the fuel system ground tests of the KC-46 engineering and manufacturing design (EMD) programme at Paine Field, Washington.
During the testing, a Boeing 767-2C tanker, called EMD-1, flew its first airworthiness flight installed with an aerial refuelling boom and wing air refuelling pods.
Image: KC-46A test series were conducted at the Weapons Survivability Lab (WSL) in China Lake. Photo: courtesy of Naval Air Systems Command.