KC-46 Tanker Program Completes Successful Test Flight

A provisioned 767-2C freighter took off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on Dec. 28, marking the first flight for the KC-46A Pegasus engineering, manufacturing, and development program. The aircraft is “the critical building block for the KC-46 missionized aerial refueler,” according to the Air Force. It took off around 9:30 a.m. and landed three hours and 32 minutes later at Boeing Field, according to a Boeing release. Boeing must still complete additional modifications, including installing the refueling boom and other military-specific equipment, which are to be completed in time for the first flight of a KC-46 (EMD #2) this spring. “We know flight testing will lead to some discovery; today’s flight kick-starts that work. There is an aggressive schedule going forward into Milestone C decision point for approval to start low rate initial production, but we remain cautiously optimistic we can meet the mark,” said Col. Christopher Coombs, the KC-46 system program manager, in an Air Force release. Under a 2011 contract, Boeing will build four test aircraft, including two 767-2Cs and two KC-46As. The Air Force intends to procure a total of 179 Pegasus aircraft by 2027, of which the first 18 are to be delivered by August 2017. (See also The Tanker Nears Take Off from the January 2014 issue of Air Force Magazine.)