The U.S. Air Force’s KC-46A Pegasus tanker program recently deployed refueling systems for the first time.
During back-to-back flights, KC-46 operators successfully extended the drogue refueling baskets from both the wing and centerline systems as well as deployed the fly-by-wire boom. The hose-and-drogue systems enable the KC-46 to refuel aircraft like the F/A-18 and AV-8B with 400 gallons of fuel per minute. The boom allows the tanker to transfer 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute to receiver aircraft.
These aerial refueling system milestones follow closely on the heels of the Sept. 25 historic first flight of the KC-46. Future flights will test aircraft stability and initial handling qualities. Later the KC-46 will conduct aerial refueling tests with multiple types of receiver aircraft.
The KC-46A, derived from Boeing’s 767 commercial airplane, is a multi-role tanker that will refuel U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft. Passengers, cargo and patients can be transported on the tanker.
Boeing is building four test aircraft – two 767-2Cs and two KC-46A tankers. The 767-2Cs enter flight test as commercial freighters prior to receiving aerial refueling systems, while the KC-46As are fully-equipped tankers. The different configurations are used to meet FAA and military certification requirements. The program’s first test aircraft, a 767-2C, has completed more than 200 flight hours since its inaugural flight in December.