KC-46A Pegasus completes first stealth refueling
By Daryl Mayer, 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 15, 2019
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio -- A KC-46A Pegasus successfully transferred fuel through its boom to a F-35A on January 22 in the skies over Edwards AFB, California marking the first aerial refueling of a stealth aircraft by the KC-46.
This test flight, part of the Phase III refueling certifications, came just before the first delivery of a Pegasus tanker to the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell AFB, Kansas. Deliveries will continue in the coming months to McConnell AFB and Altus AFB, Oklahoma.
“The KC-46 program has started 2019 on the right foot with delivery of the KC-46 to the warfighter,” said Brig. Gen. Donna Shipton, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Tankers, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. “The work continues with additional aircraft deliveries and preparations for operational testing in the coming months.”
The mission was performed under tight parameters due to a deficiency identified with the Remote Vision System that can degrade the images presented to the boom operator under some lighting conditions.
“Successful tests like this demonstrate the military utility of the Pegasus,” said Col. John Newberry, KC-46 System Program Manager, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. “This aircraft can make a difference for the warfighter because it offers capabilities beyond what our other tankers simply cannot do.”
Along with the capability to carry passengers, aeromedical evacuation patients or cargo, the Pegasus will be able to conduct missions through its 1,200 gallon per minute boom or its 400 gallon per minute drogue system. The ability to switch between boom or drogue without landing gives great flexibility to mission planners. The KC-46 also has enhanced survivability that is unmatched in the rest of the tanker fleet.
The Pegasus will continue Phase III refueling certification missions throughout 2019 at Edwards AFB. The next major milestone –Initial Operational Test and Evaluation – is expected to complete this year.