The KC-46A Pegasus tanker has completed the second phase of receiver certification flight testing, Boeing announced this week.
Boeing’s KC-46 tanker program has completed its planned Phase II receiver certification flight testing following three weeks of flights with F-15E aircraft out of Edwards Air Force Base in California, the company announced. Boeing and U.S. Air Force KC-46 crews started off receiver certification testing with F-16 aircraft in April 2018.
“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 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-46 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.
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, Boeing announced.
Wright-Patterson Air Force base houses the KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker program.
The development of the KC-46 has seen challenges in recent years. In 2017, the Air Force marked the KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker with three “deficiency reports” that have raised concerns, according to the service branch. However, the Air Force awarded Boeing a $2.9 billion contract in September for the production of another lot of KC-46 tankers.
The KC-46 can haul more than 212,000 pounds of fuel and can be configured to carry a maximum of 114 passengers, or 65 patients on an aeromedical evacuation mission.