Tag Archives: KC-46A Pegasus

Phase II

Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus tanker program has completed its planned Phase II receiver certification flight testing following three weeks of flights with F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft out of Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus tanker refuels an F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft during Phase II receiver certification testing out of Edwards Air Force Base, California. A Boeing/U.S. Air Force team completed receiver certification with F-16 Fighting Falcon, KC-135 Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III, A-10 Thunderbolt II, KC-46A Pegasus, B-52 Stratofortress, F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft (Photo: Boeing)
Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus tanker refuels an F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft during Phase II receiver certification testing out of Edwards Air Force Base, California. A Boeing/U.S. Air Force team completed receiver certification with F-16 Fighting Falcon, KC-135 Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III, A-10 Thunderbolt II, KC-46A Pegasus, B-52 Stratofortress, F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing and U.S. Air Force KC-46A Pegasus crews kicked off receiver certification testing with F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft in April 2018. Since then the joint team also completed testing with KC-135 Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III, A-10 Thunderbolt II, KC-46A Pegasus, B-52 Stratofortress, and F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft.

«This accomplishment is a tribute to the Boeing/U.S. Air Force team and helps set the stage for the start of Initial Operational Test & Evaluation testing next year», said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker vice president and program manager. «We are seeing great progress in both test and production and expect the positive momentum to continue as we begin delivering aircraft».

During the certification flight tests, KC-46A Pegasus and receiver aircraft flew at different airspeeds, altitudes and configurations to ensure compatibility and performance throughout the refueling envelope of each receiver. Now, the Air Force and the Aerial Refueling Certification Agency will review all test data and paperwork before ultimately “certifying” each aircraft.

«The Air Force crews were with us every step of the way during this critical testing», said Jake Kwasnik, KC-46A Pegasus test program manager. «It was awesome to see everyone working together as we conducted flights out of Boeing Field and also at Edwards and Minot Air Force bases».

Six test aircraft have now completed more than 3,700 flight hours and supplied more than four million pounds of fuel in flight to receiver aircraft.

Phase III receiver certification testing will be conducted by the Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base in 2019. That testing will include additional receiver aircraft.

The KC-46A Pegasus, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in the company’s Everett, Wash., facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 52 of an expected 179 tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

 

General Characteristics

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

 

Japan Tanker

Through the Foreign Military Sale process, the U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $279 million contract for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) first KC-46 tanker and logistics support, marking the aircraft’s first international sale.

Boeing’s KC-46A tanker takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, where the aircraft are built. Japan is the first international customer for the multi-role tanker that will bring unmatched capabilities and reliability upon delivery (Photo by Gail Hanusa)
Boeing’s KC-46A tanker takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, where the aircraft are built. Japan is the first international customer for the multi-role tanker that will bring unmatched capabilities and reliability upon delivery (Photo by Gail Hanusa)

Japan chose Boeing’s KC-46 tanker over competitors following its KC-X aerial refueling competition. The KC-46 adds to the JASDF’s current fleet of four KC-767J tankers.

«We are excited to partner with Boeing as we assist Japan in advancing its aerial refueling capabilities», said Brigadier General Donna Shipton, program executive officer, U.S. Air Force Tanker Directorate. «This is an important step in strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance and will enhance our interoperability with both nations flying KC-46s».

The U.S. Air Force will operate and maintain its fleet of 179 KC-46 tankers through mid-century and beyond.

«This milestone order highlights a valued partnership with Japan that spans more than six decades, and we look forward to continuing that collaboration on the KC-46 program», added Brett Gerry, president, Boeing Japan. «The skilled Japanese KC-767 tanker and E-767 Airborne Warning and Control Systems pilots and maintenance personnel are already familiar with flying and supporting our highly efficient aircraft, and we look forward to helping them expand their capabilities in the future».

The KC-46 is a multirole tanker designed to refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

Boeing began developing the KC-46A Pegasus tanker for the U.S. Air Force in 2011 and is assembling the 767-derivative 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 more than 2,200 flight hours and conducted refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10, KC-10 and KC-46 aircraft.

In addition to refueling, the KC-46 features a main deck cargo door and strengthened cargo deck. The floor includes seat tracks and a cargo handling system, allowing for a variety of mission configurations. The system enables KC-46 to simultaneously carry palletized cargo, personnel and aeromedical equipment in a variety of combinations. The highly reliable 767 derivative will also deliver tremendous savings through lower lifecycle costs compared to other larger or used aircraft.

Sixteen percent of the 767 airplane, on which the KC-46 tanker is based, is made with Japan. The Boeing-Japan relationship grows and expands with partnership opportunities in the space, commercial and defense businesses, continuing a legacy that spans more than 60 years. Boeing currently spends more than $5 billion annually in Japan, making the country the largest supply base for Boeing outside the United States. Boeing opened its first office in Japan in 1953 and now has approximately 200 employees at more than 20 major sites across the country.

 

General Characteristics

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

 

First Tanker

The first Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker that will be delivered to the U.S. Air Force next year successfully completed its first flight and airborne tests on December 5, 2017, taking off from Paine Field at 10:32 a.m. PST and landing approximately three-and-one-half hours later.

The first KC-46A Pegasus tanker for the U.S. Air Force takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, on its maiden flight. During the three and one-half hour flight, pilots took the aircraft to 39,000 feet/11,887 meters and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems. The KC-46 is a multirole tanker than can refuel all allied and coalition aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients (Photo by Marian Lockhart)
The first KC-46A Pegasus tanker for the U.S. Air Force takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, on its maiden flight. During the three and one-half hour flight, pilots took the aircraft to 39,000 feet/11,887 meters and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems. The KC-46 is a multirole tanker than can refuel all allied and coalition aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients (Photo by Marian Lockhart)

«Today’s flight is another milestone for the Air Force/Boeing team and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft to the warfighter», said Colonel John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager.

During the flight, Boeing test pilots took the tanker to a maximum altitude of 39,000 feet/11,887 meters and performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved flight profile. Prior to subsequent flights, the team will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation.

«We’re very proud of this aircraft and the state-of-the-art capabilities it will bring to the Air Force», said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker vice president and program manager. «We still have some tough work ahead of us, including completing our FAA certification activities, but the team is committed to ensure that upon delivery, this tanker will be everything our customer expects and more».

The newest tanker is the KC-46 program’s seventh aircraft to fly to date. The previous six are being used for testing and certification and to date have completed 2,200 flight hours and more than 1,600 «contacts» during refueling flights with F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Super Hornet, AV-8B Harrier II, C-17 Globemaster III, A-10 Thunderbolt II, KC-10 Extender and KC-46A Pegasus aircraft.

The KC-46A Pegasus, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in the company’s Everett facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 34 of an expected 179 tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

 

General Characteristics

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

 

Tanker Production Lot

The U.S. Air Force today awarded Boeing $2.1 billion for 15 KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, spare engines and wing air refueling pod kits. This order is the third low-rate initial production lot for Boeing. The first two came in August 2016 and included seven and 12 planes, respectively, as well as spare parts.

The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker that can refuel allied and coalition military aircraft and also carry passengers, cargo and patients (Boeing photo)
The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker that can refuel allied and coalition military aircraft and also carry passengers, cargo and patients (Boeing photo)

Boeing plans to build 179 of the 767-based refueling aircraft for the U.S. Air Force to replace its legacy tanker fleet. Tanker deliveries will begin later this year.

«This award is great news for the joint Boeing-Air Force team and reinforces the need for this highly efficient and capable tanker aircraft», said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker vice president and program manager. «Our Boeing industry team is hard at work building and testing KC-46 Pegasus aircraft, and we look forward to first delivery».

«Placing an order for another 15 aircraft is another important milestone for the KC-46 Pegasus program», said Colonel John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 Pegasus System program manager. «I know the warfighter is excited about bringing this next generation capability into the inventory».

Boeing received an initial contract in 2011 to design and develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft. As part of that contract, Boeing built four test aircraft – two configured as 767-2Cs and two as KC-46A Pegasus tankers. Those test aircraft, along with the first production plane, have completed nearly 1,500 flight hours to date.

The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

Boeing is assembling KC-46 Pegasus aircraft at its Everett, Washington, facility.

 

General Characteristics

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

 

Tanker First Flight

The Boeing test team successfully completed the first flight of the program’s second KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft on March 2, taking off from Paine Field and landing later at Boeing Field in Seattle. During the flight, Boeing test pilots performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems.

Boeing’s second KC-46 Pegasus tanker (EMD-4) takes off from Paine Field in Everett on its first flight. The tanker landed later at Boeing Field in Seattle and will initially be used to test mission system avionics and exterior lighting (Photo credit: Gail Hanusa, Boeing)
Boeing’s second KC-46 Pegasus tanker (EMD-4) takes off from Paine Field in Everett on its first flight. The tanker landed later at Boeing Field in Seattle and will initially be used to test mission system avionics and exterior lighting (Photo credit: Gail Hanusa, Boeing)

«Adding a second tanker to the flight test program is very important as we move into the next phase of testing», said Colonel John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager. «The team will initially use the aircraft to test mission system avionics and exterior lighting. Later, it will share the air refueling effort with the first KC-46».

The Boeing team now will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation prior to the next series of flights. As part of the overall flight test program, the KC-46 Pegasus will demonstrate it can refuel 18 different aircraft. The second tanker will help share the test load and receiver certification.

Boeing was awarded a contract in 2011 to design and develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft and is building four test aircraft – two are currently configured as 767-2Cs and two as KC-46A Pegasus tankers.

Engineering & Manufacturing and Development-1 (EMD-1), a 767-2C test aircraft, has completed more than 260 flight test hours to date since its first flight in December 2014. EMD-2, the program’s first KC-46A Pegasus tanker, made its maiden flight September 25, 2015 and has now completed more than 180 flight test hours. EMD-3, a 767-2C, will begin flight testing later this year.

The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker Boeing is building for the U.S. Air Force that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients. Overall, Boeing plans to build 179 KC-46 Pegasus aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.

Boeing and U.S. Air Force crews complete the KC-46A Pegasus tanker’s first refueling flight following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle. The Boeing/Air Force test team aboard the KC-46 offloaded 1,600 pounds/726 kg of fuel to an F-16 fighter (Photo credit: Paul Weatherman, Boeing)
Boeing and U.S. Air Force crews complete the KC-46A Pegasus tanker’s first refueling flight following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle. The Boeing/Air Force test team aboard the KC-46 offloaded 1,600 pounds/726 kg of fuel to an F-16 fighter (Photo credit: Paul Weatherman, Boeing)

 

General Characteristics

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

 

First Refueling Flight

Boeing and U.S. Air Force aircrews successfully completed the KC-46A tanker’s first refueling flight on January 24 in the skies above Washington state. Following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle, the KC-46A test team worked through a series of test points before smoothly offloading 1,600 pounds/726 kg of fuel to an F-16 fighter aircraft flying at 20,000 feet/6,096 meter.

Boeing and U.S. Air Force crews complete the KC-46A Pegasus tanker’s first refueling flight following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle. The Boeing/Air Force test team aboard the KC-46 offloaded 1,600 pounds/726 kg of fuel to an F-16 fighter (Photo credit: Paul Weatherman, Boeing)
Boeing and U.S. Air Force crews complete the KC-46A Pegasus tanker’s first refueling flight following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle. The Boeing/Air Force test team aboard the KC-46 offloaded 1,600 pounds/726 kg of fuel to an F-16 fighter (Photo credit: Paul Weatherman, Boeing)

«Today’s flight is an important milestone for the Air Force/Boeing team because it kicks off the Milestone C aerial refueling demonstration, which is the prerequisite for the Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) decision», said Colonel Christopher Coombs, U.S. Air Force KC-46 system program manager. «We have a lot of work yet to do, but this is an exciting time for the airmen who are preparing to fly, maintain and support the KC-46 Pegasus for decades to come».

During the 5 hour and 43-minute flight, both Boeing and U.S. Air Force air refueling operators accomplished multiple contacts with the F-16 that confirmed the system was ready to transfer fuel. Master Sergeant Lindsay Moon, U.S. Air Force KC-46 air refueling operator, then «flew» the tanker’s 56-foot/17-meter boom downward and waited for the F-16 to move into position before fully extending the boom into its refueling receptacle.

«The KC-46 offloaded fuel to the fighter and when the fuel transfer was complete, the system automatically turned off the pumps and Moon smoothly retracted the boom. The refueling boom’s handling qualities throughout the flight were exceptional», said Rickey Kahler, Boeing KC-46 air refueling operator who also guided the boom during contacts with the F-16 while sitting in the tanker’s state-of-the-art refueling operator station in the front of the tanker. «The boom was extremely stable – it handled like it was an extension of my arm».

The KC-46A that accomplished today’s refueling milestone will soon begin refueling a number of other military aircraft as well, including a C-17, F/A-18, A-10 and AV-8B. Also known as Engineering & Manufacturing Development-2 (EMD-2), the tanker made its first flight September 25, 2015 and has now completed 32 flights.

The program’s first test aircraft (EMD-1), a 767-2C, has completed more than 260 flight test hours to date since its first flight in December 2014. EMD-3 and EMD-4 will begin flight testing later this year.

As part of a contract awarded in 2011 to design and develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft, Boeing is building four test aircraft – two are currently configured as 767-2Cs and two as KC-46A tankers.

The KC-46A is a multirole tanker Boeing is building for the U.S. Air Force that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients. Overall, Boeing plans to build 179 KC-46 aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.

The drogue systems are used to refuel helicopters along with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft
The drogue systems are used to refuel helicopters along with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft

 

General Characteristics

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 deploys the centerline boom for the first time October 9, 2015. The boom is the fastest way to refuel aircraft at 1,200 gallons per minute (Boeing photo/John D. Parker)
The KC-46A Pegasus deploys the centerline boom for the first time October 9, 2015. The boom is the fastest way to refuel aircraft at 1,200 gallons per minute (Boeing photo/John D. Parker)

Aerial refueling

The KC-46A Pegasus notched another success this week when the systems at the heart of aerial refueling were demonstrated on Engineering, Manufacturing and Development 2 (EMD-2) with the deployment of both drogue systems and the boom. On October 8, EMD-2 successfully extended the drogue refueling baskets from both the Centerline Drogue System (CDS), located on the belly of the fuselage, and from the Wing Aerial Refueling Pods (WARP), located on the wing tips, for probe receiver aircraft. On October 9, EMD-2 extended the boom, the telescoping tube, which an operator on the tanker aircraft extends to receptacle-equipped receiver aircraft.

The KC-46A Pegasus deploys the centerline boom for the first time October 9, 2015. The boom is the fastest way to refuel aircraft at 1,200 gallons per minute (Boeing photo/John D. Parker)
The KC-46A Pegasus deploys the centerline boom for the first time October 9, 2015. The boom is the fastest way to refuel aircraft at 1,200 gallons per minute (Boeing photo/John D. Parker)

«The core mission of Pegasus is to fuel the fight, so deploying the boom and drogues signals real progress toward demonstrating the ability to pass fuel in flight», said Brigadier General Duke Z. Richardson, the program executive officer for tankers at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. «This sets the stage for the main act, which is hooking up to and refueling an aircraft in flight».

The rigid, centerline boom used on the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender, has been the Air Force standard for in-flight refueling since the 1950s. With a 1,200 gallons per minute transfer rate from the KC-46, the boom will be the fastest way to refuel. Like all previous tankers, the Pegasus can refuel a single aircraft at a time on the boom.

On the other hand, Air Force helicopters and all Navy and Marine Corps aircraft use the hose and drogue method of refueling. The two drogue systems on the KC-46, CDS and WARPs, pass fuel at a rate of 400 gpm, and the WARPs can refuel more than one aircraft at a time. The KC-46A is a leap forward, as it can conduct boom and drogue refueling on a single mission without landing to reconfigure.

«These capability gains are vital to the tanker mission in support of global reach and global power providing the U.S. military the ability to extend the range of aircraft to respond wherever it’s called to duty», said Colonel Christopher Coombs, the KC-46 system program manager. «This tanker will be able to refuel any fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter in the (Defense Department) fleet, while being able to take on fuel itself».

The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 to acquire 179 KC-46As to begin recapitalizing the aging tanker fleet. The program is currently working to meet the required assets available date, a milestone requiring 18 KC-46As and all necessary support equipment to be on the ramp, ready to support warfighter needs by August 2017.

The drogue systems are used to refuel helicopters along with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft
The drogue systems are used to refuel helicopters along with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft

 

General Characteristics

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 drogue system is used to refuel probe receiver aircraft
The drogue system is used to refuel probe receiver aircraft