An experimental KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft made its initial arrival at U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Sept. 17, 2018.
This was the first time a KC-46A tanker has been at Minot AFB. The aircraft will complete several experiments with the Minot AFB fleet of B-52 Stratofortresse strategic bombers over the coming weeks.
Boeing KC-46A Pegasus is a military aerial refueling and strategic military transport aircraft developed by Boeing from its 767 widebody jet airliner. In February 2011, the tanker was selected by the U.S. Air Force as the winner in the KC-X tanker competition to replace older KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.
KC-46A has a maximum takeoff weight of 415,000 pounds and a maximum cargo capacity of 65,000 pounds. The tanker has a wingspan of 157 feet, 8 inches.
The aircraft can refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures. It is equipped with boom and hose and drogue systems. The boom allows the tanker to transfer up to 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute, while the hose and drogue systems, located on both the plane’s wing and centerline, enables the KC-46 to refuel smaller aircraft with up to 400 gallons of fuel per minute.
Boeing designed the KC-46 to also carry passengers, cargo and patients. The aircraft has 15 permanent seats for aircrew and can carry up to 114 total passengers in contingency operations.
The aircraft can detect, avoid, defeat and survive threats using multiple layers of protection, which will enable it to operate safely in medium-threat environments.
Boeing received an initial contract in 2011 to design and develop the Air Force’s newest tanker aircraft. Boeing is assembling KC-46 aircraft at its Everett, Wash., facility.
First flight of the fully-provisioned KC-46 tanker took place in September 2015. Six test aircraft have now completed 3,500 flight hours and offloaded more than three million pounds of fuel during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10, KC-135 and KC-46 aircraft.
Boeing plans to build 179 of the refueling aircraft for the Air Force to replace its legacy tanker fleet. The first 18 combat-ready aircraft are expected to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force in late 2018 or early 2019, after the original August 2017 delivery date.