The US Air Force’s (USAF) Boeing-built KC-46A Pegasus tanker (EMD-2) has marked another millstone with the deployment of both drogue systems and the boom to support aerial refuelling.
As part of this development, EMD-2 extended the drogue refuelling baskets from both the Centerline Drogue System (CDS) and the wing aerial refuelling pods (WARP) for probe receiver aircraft.
In addition, EMD-2 deployed the boom, which is the telescoping tube that extends to receptacle-equipped receiver aircraft.
Air Force Life Cycle Management Center tankers program executive officer Brigadier general Duke Z. Richardson said: "The core mission of Pegasus is to fuel the fight, so deploying the boom and drogues signals real progress toward demonstrating the ability to pass fuel in flight.
"This sets the stage for the main act, which is hooking up to and refueling an aircraft in flight."
With a transfer rate of 1,200gpm from the KC-46, the boom will become the fastest way to refuel, the USAF stated.
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The two drogue systems installed on the KC-46, CDS and WARPs, will be able to transfer 400gpm. WARPs are capable of refuelling more than one aircraft at a time.
KC-46 system program manager Colonel Christopher Coombs said: "These capability gains are vital to the tanker mission in support of global reach and global power providing the US military the ability to extend the range of aircraft to respond wherever it’s called to duty.
"This tanker will be able to refuel any fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter in the fleet, while being able to take on fuel itself."
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.
In September, USAF completed the first flight of a KC-46A at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.
Image: The KC-46A Pegasus deploys the centerline boom for the first time. Photo: courtesy of Boeing photo /John D. Parker.