First KC-46A Fill Up

The Air Force’s next generation tanker has shown it can pump gas. The KC-46A Pegasus on Jan. 24 conducted its first aerial refueling, transferring fuel through its boom to an F-16C during a test flight from Edwards AFB, Calif., the Air Force announced. The tanker passed 1,600 pounds of fuel to an F-16C as a requirement to connect to a light/fast receiver. The next boom tests are with an A-10 as a light/slow receiver and with a C-17 as a heavy receiver. The KC-46A will then test its centerline drogue system and wing aerial refueling pods with connections to an F-18 Hornet and an AV-8B Harrier, according to Air Force Materiel Command. “This aerial refueling marks the first of many, and represents years of hard work beginning to pay dividends,” Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson, the Air Force’s program executive officer for tankers, said in a release. The remaining tests are required before the Air Force makes its Milestone C low-rate initial production decision. The first production contract expected shortly after. The Air Force plans to purchase 179 of the tankers, with 18 KC-46s expected by August 2017. (See also: KC-46 Tests Boom and Drogue.)