Editor’s Note: A critical functionality of our Air Force aerial refueling tankers is their ability to refuel not on their own service’s aircraft, but also those of their sister service–the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as coalition fighters that use the probe-and-drogue system. This initial link-up between the Pegasus and Hornet was a huge step toward bringing the new tanker online and able to service a variety of customers when the need arises.
The air refueling was the program’s first using the KC-46’s hose and drogue system. It took place in the skies over Washington state.
According to Boeing, the flight lasted more than four hours and the tanker’s air refueling operator successfully transferred fuel to the F/A-18 at 20,000 feet.
The KC-46 will refuel aircraft using both its boom and hose and drogue systems. The boom allows the tanker to transfer up to 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute, while the plane’s hose and drogue systems, located on both the plane’s wing and centerline, enables the KC-46 to refuel smaller aircraft such as the F/A-18 with up to 400 gallons of fuel per minute, said the Boeing release.
F/A-18s are flown by both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
The KC-46 refueled an F-16 fighter from Edwards AFB using its air refueling boom Jan. 24.
The KC-46A Pegasus is intended to replace 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, and Marine Corps, as well as allied nation coalition aircraft.
The 412th Test Wing is the lead developmental test organization for the KC-46 Tanker Program.
The original article can be viewed here.
(Featured photo by John Parker/Boeing)