The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully completed the first flight of a KC-46A Pegasus tanker (EMD-2) at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.
The new development follows after the flights of the programme’s first test aircraft, a 767-2C.
USAF Life Cycle Management Centre tankers programme executive officer brigadier general Duke Z. Richardson said: "Today is just the first flight of many for this aircraft as we deliver these next generation tankers.
"Like the KC-135 (Stratotanker) and KC-10 (Extender) before it, this aircraft will be called upon for generations to come to deliver capability, whether support equipment, supplies, medical aide, or personnel.
The latest flight saw Boeing test pilots conducting operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems.
In addition, the pilots took the aircraft to a maximum altitude of 35,000ft landing four hours later at Boeing Field in Seattle.
Prior to the next series of flights, the Boeing team will now perform a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation.
The aircraft is expected to conduct aerial refuelling flights with a number of USAF aircraft before the end of the year in support of the planned Milestone C decision next year.
The USAF’s KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refuelling procedures in addition to the transportation of passengers, cargo and patients.
Developed from Boeing’s 767-200ER, the new aircraft is designed to replace the USAF’s ageing fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers, which have served as its primary refuelling aircraft for more than 50 years.
Under the contract awarded in 2011, Boeing is building four test aircraft, which are currently configured as 767-2Cs and two KC-46A tankers for the USAF. The company plans to build a total of 179 KC-46 aircraft for the USAF.
Image: The USAF’s Boeing-built KC-46A Pegasus tanker takes off on its first flight, from Paine Field. Photo: courtesy of Boeing photo.