The time has come for the United States Air Force (USAF) to see its all new tanker in whole form. The KC-46A Pegasus has been in the making for almost 15 years, and now is moving under its own power. The new tanker is based on the Boeing 767. Once inducted in full strength, it will add a massive capability in American arsenal for the aerial refueling and transport capabilities.
On December 27 2014, the plane rumbled out of its parking spot at Boeing’s heavy airliner plant in Everett, Washington for a series of taxi tests, including high-speed runs. This wide-body airliner-cum-cargo hauler-cum military aerial refueler could have its first flight as early as tomorrow.
The plane features innovative new technologies and capabilities. A three-point hose and drogue refueling system will be standard along with a fly-by-wire refueling boom. Omitted from the KC-46A design is the traditional ‘boom pod’ with its bay window and line-of-sight boom control station. Instead, the KC-46A will use a 3D video system fed to a refueling console for boom control.
The Pegasus is expected to be equipped with a modern radar warning receiver and defensive countermeasure systems. A full glass cockpit and an advanced navigation system to comply with international standards are another two important features.
The KC-46A has cargo room which exceeds the KC-135. It will be able to carry 18 pallets on a single mission. Moreover, it will be more economical to operate than the Stratotanker. Other goodies include night-vision compatible lighting and future multi-mission capabilities via in the installation of plug-and-play consoles.
The USAF is likely to add 179 KC-46As by replacing the oldest KC-135 Stratotankers. The first four units will be used as engineering test and evaluation models. The first 18 combat capable KC-46As will be delivered by the end of 2017 to the USAF. The contract is worth over $50 billion through 2028.
Source: Foxtrot Alpha