The U.S. Air Force came one step closer to receiving the next-generation air refueling tanker with the successful completion of the first flight of the KC-46 program test aircraft on Dec. 28. The plane, a Boeing 767-2C, took off from Paine Field, Wash., at 9:29 a.m. (PST) and landed three hours and 32 minutes later at Boeing Field. The aircraft will receive its military systems following certification.
The flight represents a significant step in Boeing’s commitment to deliver the KC-46A Pegasus to the U.S. Air Force. Boeing will begin delivering production tankers to the Air Force in 2016.
As part of the contract awarded in 2011 to design and develop the USAF’s next-generation tanker aircraft, Boeing has built four test aircraft – two 767-2Cs and two KC-46A tankers. The 767-2Cs enter flight test as commercial freighters prior to receiving their aerial refueling systems, while the KC-46As will fly as fully-equipped tankers during the FAA and military certification process.
The KC-46A is a multi-role tanker that can refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.