Boeing KC-46 tanker program completes key milestone
Boeing has announced that the KC-46 tanker program has successfully completed its Phase II receiver certification flight testing following three weeks of airtime alongside F-15E fighter jets from Edwards Air Force Base, California.
In collaboration with US Air Force KC-46 crews, Boeing officially kicked-off receiver certification testing with F-16 aircraft in April 2018. The team has since gone on to complete testing with KC-135, C-17, A-10, KC-46, B-52, and F/A-18 aircraft.
“This accomplishment is a tribute to the Boeing/US Air Force team and helps set the stage for the start of Initial Operational Test & Evaluation testing next year,” said Mike Gibbons, Boeing KC-46A tanker Vice President and Program Manager. “We are seeing great progress in both test and production and expect the positive momentum to continue as we begin delivering aircraft.”
The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.
During certification flight testing, KC-46 and receiver aircraft flew at different airspeeds, altitudes and configurations to guarantee compatibility and performance throughout the refueling process. Now, the Air Force and the Aerial Refueling Certification Agency will review all test data and paperwork before ultimately ‘certifying’ each aircraft.
“The Air Force crews were with us every step of the way during this critical testing,” said Jake Kwasnik, KC-46 test Program Manager. “It was awesome to see everyone working together as we conducted flights out of Boeing Field and also at Edwards and Minot Air Force bases.”
Six test aircraft have now flown for over 3,700 hours, supplying more than four million pounds of fuel in flight to receiver aircraft. Phase III receiver certification testing is due to be conducted by the US Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base in 2019.
A variant of Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, the KC-46 is manufactured at the company’s Everett, Washington facility. Boeing is currently on contract for the first 52 of an expected 179 tankers for the US Air Force.
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