A KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft touched down at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., May 23, 2018, for flight tests.
The plan is to have the Pegasus at Edwards Air Force Base through June as Boeing and the 418th Flight Test Squadron conduct tests with the new tanker.
While the KC-46s role is to refuel other aircraft, it too may need to be refueled from KC-10s or KC-135s to extend its range.
“The primary focus of the current test effort is certifying the KC-46 as a receiver aircraft behind the KC-135 (Stratotanker),” said Lt. Col. Paul Calhoun, 418th FLTS commander. “As a fully air-refuelable tanker, the KC-46 offers the warfighter increased flexibility. Testing being accomplished at Edwards now will enable that capability.”
Several units from both on and off base are supporting the tests with the 412th Test Wing as the lead developmental test organization for the KC-46 program.
“The KC-46 is still an experimental aircraft owned by Boeing so they brought with them an army of engineers, maintainers and aircrew. This is a team effort across the entire test wing and with Boeing,” Calhoun said.
The KC-46A has visited Edwards for tests before and tests have been conducted at its Boeing home in Washington state, but this visit aims to be the start of a more robust test schedule to be conducted in the High Desert.
“While the KC-46 has done some remote testing at other bases, this is the beginning of a new chapter in its development where Edwards’ personnel can directly test the Air Force’s newest aircraft on site at the world’s premier flight test location,” said Calhoun.
The KC-46A Pegasus is intended to start replacing the Air Force’s aging tanker fleet, which has been refueling aircraft for more than 50 years. With more refueling capacity and enhanced capabilities, improved efficiency and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation, the KC-46A will provide aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps as well as allied nation aircraft.
“The 418th is excited to be a part of the effort to robustly test this revolutionary tanker to ensure that the warfighter has reliable tools in hand as soon as possible to project American power around the globe,” said Calhoun.