The Wing Aerial Refueling Pods (WARPs) of the U.S. Air Force’s new KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker aircraft were successfully tested at Edwards Air Force Base, California recently.
The WARPs were tested with an AV-8B Harrier II, an F/A-18D Hornet, and an EA-18G Growler aircraft. The WARPs allow the Pegasus to simultaneously refuel two aircraft at the same time as opposed to a centerline drogue system, where only one aircraft can refuel at a time. This makes the system a force multiplier.
Following successful completion of the connections, engineers had to review a multitude of data before it is certified by the Aerial Refueling Certification Agency (ARCA). Engineers will also evaluate the performance of WARPs prior to fielding the capability to the warfighter; this includes looking at the free air stability, the hose reel response, the fuel system, and the human factors.
Additionally, the hose markings, signal lights, and tanker lighting are evaluated for proper visual cues and operator situational awareness. These evaluations are done at various altitudes, airspeeds, tanker gross weights, and time of day to ensure the system responds properly, safely, and any pertinent warnings, cautions, and/or notes are documented for fleet operations.