Boeing will deliver the first KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling and strategic transport aircraft to the U.S. Air Force in October this year, the company announced.
The first aircraft will be delivered to the USAF 22d Air Refueling Wing (22 ARW) stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. The wing currently operates 63 KC-135R Stratotanker tanker aircraft.
McConnell AFB has recently acquired a KC-46 Pegasus fuselage trainer as it prepares to receive the next generation multirole tanker. The trainer is a 120 feet by 25 feet replica of the KC-46 main cargo deck from the forward entry door to the aft of the rear entry door. It includes no wings, tail or cockpit.
The KC-46 is a multirole tanker designed to refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.
Boeing began developing the KC-46A Pegasus tanker for the U.S. Air Force in 2011. The first 18 combat-ready aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force in early 2018 under the terms of the development contract.
The KC-46, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in the company’s Everett, Wash., facility.
First flight of the fully-provisioned KC-46 tanker took place in September 2015. Six test aircraft have now completed more than 2,900 flight hours as well as more than 2,500 “contacts” during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10 and KC-46 aircraft.
In addition to refueling, the KC-46 features a main deck cargo door and strengthened cargo deck. The floor includes seat tracks and a cargo handling system, allowing for a variety of mission configurations. The system enables KC-46 to simultaneously carry palletized cargo, personnel and aeromedical equipment in a variety of combinations.
Boeing is currently on contract for the first 34 of an expected 179 tankers for the U.S. Air Force. On 23 October 2015, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force selected the KC-46 as their new tanker, with a contract for three tankers.