Deliveries to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force will begin in 2021.
On Sep. 17, 2020 the first KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker aircraft has rolled out of Boeing’s paint shop with the custom Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) aircraft insignia, the company announced with a video posted on Twitter.
Boeing is assembling KC-46A aircraft for both the US Air Force (USAF) and Japan on its 767 production line in Everett. Following initial assembly, workers install the tanker’s military unique systems at the site’s Modification Center. The jets are then flight tested at Boeing Field prior to delivery.
‘From the enhanced flight deck to the modernized boom, this tanker will provide unmatched capabilities for Japan,’ said Jamie Burgess, Boeing vice president and KC-46 program manager last year.
Boeing began developing the KC-46A for the USAF in 2011 and delivered the first tanker in January 2019. Japan is the program’s first international customer. Deliveries to the JASDF will begin in 2021.
The KC-46 will be a force multiplier in the U.S.-Japanese defense alliance, certified to refuel all US Air Force, US Navy and JASDF aircraft safely and efficiently. Built to carry passengers, cargo and patients, it will be easier to maintain than previous tankers, improving reliability and lowering life-cycle costs.
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.
The KC-46A is a derivative of the commercial 767-2C, a proven airframe in service as an airliner and freighter. Boeing has delivered more than 1,150 767s worldwide.
Photo credit: Boeing