Air Force buys next lot of Pegasus tankers

Boeing and the 418th Flight Test Squadron are conducting ground effects and fuel onload fatigue testing on the new KC-46A Pegasus. Fuel onload fatigue tests will gather data to characterize the aircraft interaction typically experienced when the KC-46A is flying in receiver formation behind a current KC-135 Stratotanker or KC-10 Extender. While the KC-46's role is to refuel other aircraft, it too may need to be refueled from other KC-10s or KC-135s to extend its range. Fuel onload fatigue testing is the first look at the KC-46 acting in that role. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher Okula)

A Boeing KC-46A Pegasus prepares to receive fuel from a KC-10 Extender while a KC-135 Stratotanker flies alongside. The Air Force awarded a $2.1 billion contract for 15 additional KC-46A tankers Jan. 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher Okula)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio -- The Air Force has awarded a $2.1 billion contract to Boeing for the third Low Rate Initial Production lot of KC-46A Pegasus tankers.

This award includes 15 aircraft and associated spare parts. The first two production lots for 7 and 12 aircraft respectively were awarded in August 2016. This award brings the total number of tankers purchased by the Air Force to 34.

"This program is moving forward at a steady rate," said Brig. Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Program Executive Officer for Tankers. "We are getting aircraft on contract and moving them down the production line, meeting test requirements, and preparing for ‘iron on the ramp’."

The first aircraft delivery is scheduled for McConnell AFB, Kansas, which is the first active duty Air Force operating location (OL) for Pegasus. That delivery will be followed by deliveries to Altus AFB, Oklahoma, the Pegasus training location, and Pease ANGB, New Hampshire, the second OL. 

"Placing an order for another 15 aircraft is an important milestone for the KC-46 program," said Col. John Newberry, KC-46 System Program Manager. "I know the warfighter is excited about bringing this next generation capability into the inventory."