The KC-46A Pegasus program received Milestone C approval from Frank Kendall, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, signaling the aircraft is ready to enter into production. Work is now underway to award the first two low-rate initial production lots within the next 30 days.
«I commend the team for diligently working through some difficult technical challenges», said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. «The KC-46 program has made significant strides in moving the Air Force toward the modernization needed in our strategic tanker fleet».
Securing approval to begin low-rate initial production required completion of several aerial refueling demonstrations, to include refueling an F-16 Fighting Falcon, C-17 Globemaster III and A-10 Thunderbolt II off the boom, and an AV-8 Harrier II and F/A-18 Hornet off both hose and drogue systems. The KC-46 Pegasus also proved its receiver capability by taking fuel from a KC-10 Extender.
Some demonstrations were delayed due to higher than expected axial loads in the boom. Boeing installed hydraulic pressure relief valves to alleviate loads and last month all remaining demonstrations were quickly completed.
«The KC-46 is ready to take the next step», said Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein. «Our Air Force and Boeing team stepped up to meet the recent challenges. I’m especially proud of the employees on the floor of the Boeing plant and employees of all our industry partners, who work every day to deliver game-changing capability to the warfighter. My hat’s off to them and our program leads».
The Air Force will soon award contracts to Boeing for two lots, totaling 19 aircraft, and associated spare parts for a pre-negotiated $2.8 billion combined value.
The first aircraft deliveries will be to McConnell Air Force Base (AFB), Kansas, and Altus AFB, Oklahoma. A total of 18 tankers are scheduled to be delivered by early 2018.
«I am exceedingly proud of the KC-46 program office for clearing the production hurdle», said Darlene Costello, an Air Force Service Acquisition executive. «We have crossed an important milestone, and I appreciate Boeing’s continued focus as they work to finish development prior to first aircraft delivery».
Going forward in the test program, the KC-46 Pegasus will complete a robust schedule of Federal Aviation Administration and military certification flight testing, including refueling test flights, in order to achieve certification for aircraft in the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense inventory.
|Primary Function||Aerial refueling and airlift|
|Prime Contractor||The Boeing Company|
|Power Plant||2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062|
|Thrust||62,000 lbs/275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)|
|Wingspan||157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m|
|Length||165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m|
|Height||52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m|
|Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)||415,000 lbs/188,240 kg|
|Maximum Landing Weight||310,000 lbs/140,614 kg|
|Fuel Capacity||212,299 lbs/96,297 kg|
|Maximum Transfer Fuel Load||207,672 lbs/94,198 kg|
|Maximum Cargo Capacity||65,000 lbs/29,484 kg|
|Maximum Airspeed||360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h|
|Service Ceiling||43,100 feet/13,137 m|
|Maximum Distance||7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km|
|Pallet Positions||18 pallet positions|
|Air Crew||15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew|
|Passengers||58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)|
|Aeromedical Evacuation||58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment|
The KC-46A Pegasus is a widebody, multirole tanker that can refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures