The US Air Force's (USAF) KC-46 Pegasus tanker has successfully refuelled an A-10 Thunderbolt II, marking the successful completion of all flight tests required for the Milestone C production decision.
The test was the last of six in-flight refuelling demonstrations that were required before US Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics under secretary Frank Kendall can approve the production of 19 KC-46A aircraft.
USAF tankers programme executive officer brigadier general Duke Richardson said: "Today's flight marks the final step we needed to see on the boom fix in order to request production go-ahead.
“Our joint team's tireless efforts are paying off, preparing us for the next step of this critical need to our warfighter."
During testing, nearly 1,500lb of fuel was transferred into an A-10 Thunderbolt II.
The 412th Test Wing, 23rd Fighter Wing, 355th FW, 124th FW, 896th Test Support Squadron and 40th Flight Test Squadron provided the aircraft, personnel and equipment required for the testing.
The Milestone C decision to begin low-rate initial production is expected in August this year.
The KC-46 conducted air refuelling demonstrations with the C-17 Globemaster III and F-16 Fighting Falcon using the air refuelling boom, the US Navy’s F-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II using the centreline and wing drogue systems
The 50.4m-long multirole tanker is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW 4062 engines to refuel all US, allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refuelling procedures.
Designed to carry passengers, cargo and patients, the Boeing-built aircraft can detect, avoid, defeat and survive threats using multiple layers of protection.
Image: A KC-46 Pegasus refuelling an A-10 Thunderbolt II. Photo: courtesy of Boeing photo / John D. Parker.