The KC-46 aerial tanker program has achieved another milestone with the two tankers refueling each other during a four-hour flight.
Boeing said in its press release that the maximum fuel offload rate of 1,200 gallons per minute was attained during the testing and a total of 38,100 pounds of fuel were exchanged.
Both aircraft took off and landed at Boeing Field, south of Seattle.
The milestone flight helps pave the way for the next phases of certification and specification compliance testing.
The KC-46 will refuel U.S., allied and coalition military 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 with up to 400 gallons of fuel per minute.
To date, the program’s test aircraft have completed 2,000 flight hours and more than 1,300 contacts during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10 and KC-10 aircraft.
The USAF’s KC-46A tanker modernization program is among the Air Force’s highest acquisition priorities. Being able to refuel military aircraft in the air is critical to the U.S. military’s ability to effectively operate globally. The Air Force initiated the KC-46 program to replace about a third of its aging KC-135 Stratotanker fleet.
The KC-46A is designed to provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie; worldwide navigation and communication; airlift capability on the entire main deck floor; receiver air refueling; improved force protection and survivability; and multi-point air refueling capability.
Photo credit: Boeing
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