The U.S. Air Force has ordered additional KC-46A Pegasus multirole tankers, according to a statement issued Friday by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The aviation giant Boeing has received a $2,6 billion Air Force contract modification for an additional quantity of 15 KC-46 aircraft.
“The contract modification provides for the exercise of an option for an additional quantity of 15 KC-46 aircraft, data, two spare engines, five wing refueling pod kits, initial spares, support equipment, subscriptions and licenses, and G081 flat file being produced under the basic contract,” a service news release states.
Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington, and is expected to be completed by March 2023.
The company’s website said the KC-46A Pegasus is a widebody, multirole tanker that can refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures. 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.
The KC-46A is equipped with a refueling boom driven by a fly-by-wire control system, and is capable of fuel offload rates required for large aircraft. Its hose and drogue system adds additional mission capability that is independently operable from the refueling boom system.
The aircraft’s fuel can be pumped through the boom, drogue and wing aerial refueling pods. All KC-46As are capable of being configured with WARPs, and when equipped, the aircraft is capable of multi-point simultaneous aerial refueling. The Boom Operator controls the boom, centerline drogue and WARPs during refueling operations. The Air Refueling Operator station includes panoramic displays giving the ARO wing-tip to wing-tip situational awareness.
The KC-46A can accommodate a mixed load of passengers, aeromedical evacuation and cargo capabilities. Two high-bypass turbofans power the KC-46A to takeoff at gross weights up to 415,000 pounds. Depending on fuel storage configuration, the aircraft can carry a palletized load of up to 65,000 pounds of cargo. The KC-46A can carry up to 18 463L cargo pallets. Seat tracks and the onboard cargo handling system make it possible to simultaneously carry palletized cargo and passenger seats in a variety of combinations. The KC-46A is also equipped with a number of self-protection, defensive and communication features making it more survivable in a contested environment.
Meanwhile, Air Mobility Command is pressuring Boeing to speed up its fixes for multiple Category One deficiencies on the KC-46 tanker, the Air Force Magazine reported on 18 September.
The publication Air Force Magazine reported that the Air Force identified nine critical parameters Boeing must fix.