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First Operational Boeing KC-46A Pegasus Tanker to Fly on Sept. 25


Boeing KC-46A

On September 25, 2015, Boeing’s first fully equipped KC-46A tanker is scheduled to make its first flight. The executive officer for the Air Force tanker programs, Brigadier General Duke Richardson, stated that despite previous schedule delays, the tanker program was doing well overall. At the annual Air Force Association conference, Richardson stated, "We are definitely struggling with schedule, but I can tell you we are not struggling with performance."

Richardson said that Boeing went to significant measures in order to ensure that the program was staying on track. Sources familiar with the tanker program suggested that the first flight could have potentially been delayed by up to a month due to a chemical mix-up involved with the plane’s fuel tank. Despite a series of concerns regarding the program’s schedule, Richardson said that he was “cautiously confident” that Boeing would be able to fulfill its commitment to provide 18 tankers to the United States Air Force by August of 2017. Richardson said that the tanker program was operating through testing necessary for a key milestone review to be finished around April, which would get the ball rolling for an initial production contract for seven jets.

Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus is a widebody, multirole tanker which is capable of refueling all United States, allied, as well as coalition military aircrafts compatible with international aerial refueling procedures. The aircraft is enabled to operate safely in medium-threat environments due to its abilities to detect, avoid, defeat, and survive threats by utilizing multiple layers of protection. Boeing’s KC-46 has been designed to carry cargo, passengers, and patients. The aircraft features a 21st century centerline, wing-mounted hose, drogue systems, and an advanced fly-by-wire boom which all provide for improved refueling capabilities. Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus tanker is based on the most fuel efficient commercial airplane in its widebody class, the 767, which is a commercial airliner, freighter, and tanker with over 1,000 already in service.

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