The world’s largest aircraft manufacturer Boeing has announced that its new aerial refueling tanker completed receiver certification testing with the F-22 stealth fighter jet and RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft.
“The KC-46 tanker completed receiver certification testing with the F-22 Raptor and RC-135 Rivet Joint by U.S. Air Force-led team at Edwards Air Force Base – extending the range for these aircraft,” the Boeing message states.
The KC-46 is the newest aircraft to join the U.S. Air Force’s fleet, the aircraft is capable of carrying 212,299 pounds of fuel and 61,000 pounds of cargo, 10 percent more than the KC-135 can hold.
Certification testing was performed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, US. The USAF’s 418th Flight Test Squadron and the 461st FLTS took part in testing with the platforms.
Derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, KC-46 is a multirole tanker capable of refuelling allied and coalition military aircraft. The aircraft can also carry passengers, cargo and patients.
The KC-46 Pegasus is set to bring increased capability to the Air Force tanker fleet as the service’s number of KC-135 Stratotankers decreases and its KC-10 Extenders are phased out over the next 10 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, Marine Corps as well as allied nation aircraft.
Boeing received its first two production lots, for 7 and 12 aircraft, in August 2016. The third lot, for 15 aircraft, was awarded in January 2017; the fourth lot for 18 aircraft in September 2018.
Boeing plans to build 179 of the 767-based refueling aircraft. The company delivered the first tankers to the Air Force in January 2019.
Boeing received its initial contract in 2011 to design and develop the Air Force’s newest tanker aircraft. The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.
Boeing is assembling KC-46 aircraft at its Everett, Wash., facility and recently started production of the first KC-46 for Japan.