AMC commander makes first visit to Boeing for KC-46 update

A KC-46A Pegasus assigned to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas sits on the flightline July 11, 2020 at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. After six flights and 17 hours of total flying time, the successful aeromedical evacuation mission marked a key milestone in the progress of the KC-46 Initial Operational Test and Evaluation. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Nilsa Garcia)

TUKWILA, Wash.–Air Mobility Command commander Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost made her first visit to Boeing Field, Tukwila, Washington, Sept. 4, 2020, to meet with Boeing leaders, receive briefings, and participate in discussions on efforts to correct deficiencies on the KC-46A Pegasus.

“Air refueling is a no-fail mission,” said Van Ovost. “It’s imperative we continue working closely with our partners at Boeing to field an operational KC-46 that will meet the Joint Warfighter’s needs. There are inevitable hurdles that come with fielding an aircraft as complex and capable as the KC-46, but those hurdles must be cleared as soon as possible. We must keep our eye on the prize and foot on the gas.”

During the visit, Van Ovost and defense leaders, including DOD Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, Robert Behler, received updates from Boeing and Air Force leaders and experts on efforts to address deficiencies and areas of concern, including efforts to eliminate the discovery of foreign objects or FOD during aircraft delivery, repair of ongoing fuel leaks, and the redesign of critical aircraft systems such as the refueling boom and Remote Vision System or RVS, which allows boom operators to safely refuel receiver aircraft from a station in the front of the aircraft.

Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, Air Mobility Command commander, back right, and Robert Behler, DOD Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, front right, get a demonstration of the enhanced remote vision system from Ernest Burns, Boeing KC-46 chief boom operator, front left, at Boeing Field, Tukwila, Wash., Sept. 4, 2020. Van Ovost made her first visit to Boeing Field to meet with Boeing leaders, receive briefings, and participate in discussions on efforts to correct deficiencies on the KC-46A Pegasus. (Air Force photograph by Maj. Chase Bradley)

“I’m encouraged to see the progress Boeing’s engineers are making on RVS 2.0 since agreeing to a redesign of the entire system in early April,” said Van Ovost. “Working in tandem with experts from the Air Force Research Laboratory, we are now on the right path towards fielding an operationally viable tanker that represents the first step toward recapitalizing the Air Force’s aging tanker fleet.”

They also observed a hands-on demonstration of Boeing’s proposal for a potential interim Enhanced RVS or eRVS solution. AMC leaders are assessing the merit of implementing portions of the eRVS design, if doing so improves boom operator performance, mitigates airworthiness risks, or reduces operational restrictions currently in place for KC-46 refueling. No decision has been made at this time.

As Boeing and the Air Force work to correct aircraft system deficiencies, AMC Total Force Airmen under the guidance of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center continue to execute the KC-46’s Initial Operational Test and Evaluation plan. Most recently they completed a transatlantic, multiday IOT&E mission where a single KC-46 executed all three of its core missions by airlifting cargo, executing boom and drogue air refueling events, and conducting a live-patient aeromedical evacuation event.

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