Military Aviation

Remote Vision System 2.0 could give Boeing KC-46 Pegasus autonomous aerial refueling capability

The improved RVS 2.0 that Boeing will install on the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker includes LiDAR sensors that could allow autonomous aerial refueling.

The improved Remote Vision System 2.0 (RVS 2.0) that Boeing will install on the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker includes LiDAR (light detecting and ranging) sensors that could allow autonomous aerial refueling.

On Apr. 2, 2020 in fact Boeing agreed to fix the KC-46’s troubled Remote Vision System by creating an overhauled RVS 2.0 with new hardware and software. As told by Defense News, US Air Force (USAF) acquisition executive Will Roper told reporters those changes would include the addition of 4K high-definition cameras that will display imagery in color as well as modern processors and LiDAR sensors that will help improve depth perception.

With the help of scientists and engineers from both enterprises, the USAF will lead design reviews and approve specifications to drive the partnership toward initial fielding in 2023.

Roper points out that data collected by the sensors as well as from 4K high-definition cameras could be feed into “into algorithms that allow the tanker to tank itself.”

The KC-46’s Remote Vision System has been a thorn in the side of the aircraft program since 2017, when issues with the system were first discovered. RVS is supposed to let Airmen see where the plane’s refueling boom is in relation to an aircraft it is trying to gas up. But at around 10 feet from the receiver aircraft, the RVS doesn’t focus well enough to connect, sometimes causing the operator to hit the nearby plane.

The problem will be fixed by the new LiDAR system: according to Roper in fact, LiDAR is like a backup camera on a car that also provides cues to a driver for parallel parking or assessing whether a vehicle is aligned flush to a curb.

The USAF is so confident in the prospect of using the RVS 2.0 as a stepping stone to an autonomous tanker that it included an option in last week’s agreement to fund the development of technologies that enable autonomous or semiautonomous refueling.

“We took that step because, one, we’re excited about being on the doorsteps of autonomy and, [two], we wanted to send a clear signal in the deal that this is our tanker for the future,” Roper Pointed out.

Autonomous refueling capability has been of increasing interest to the service over the past few years, as sensing and artificial intelligence technologies grow by leaps and bounds.

The KC-46A is the first phase in recapitalizing the U.S. Air Force’s aging tanker fleet. With greater refueling, cargo and aeromedical evacuation capabilities compared to the KC-135, the KC-46A will provide next generation aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and partner-nation receivers. 

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. KC-46A Pegasus 97th AMW, 56th ARS, 17-76028, Altus AFB

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Recent Posts

The story of how the B-36 Peacemaker bomber was able to survive to five cancellation attempts during its career

In early 1949, the B-36’s future was highly questionable but although the Peacemaker’s ability to… Read More

20 hours ago

Austrian Air Force selects Embraer KC-390 Millenium to replace its C-130K Hercules cargo aircraft

According to Major General Harald Vodosek from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence four KC-390… Read More

20 hours ago

Cradle of Aviation Museum unveils newly restored F-14D ‘Felix 101’, the last US Navy Tomcat to ever fly

F-14D BuNo 164603 ‘Felix 101’ had the distinction of making the final flight by a… Read More

2 days ago

USAF accepts first Boeing T-7 Red Hawk advanced trainer

The US Air Force (USAF) accepted the first of five T-7A Red Hawk aircraft from… Read More

2 days ago

[Video] That time a US Navy F-14 Tomcat shot down a USAF RF-4C Phantom II during a war game

The RF-4C was performing a simulated recce mission on USS Saratoga when the F-14 pilot… Read More

3 days ago

The story behind the Wolf Pack F-16 sporting a special tail flash honoring Robin Olds’ F-4C Phantom II

In 2021 F-16C 89-2060 was given a special paint scheme honoring the legendary triple ace… Read More

3 days ago